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15 Startup Founders Share Their Productivity Habits

15 Startup Founders Share Their Productivity Habits

We are all guilty of wondering how some individuals seem to be able to get so much more done in a day then we do.

As someone who studies the routines and habits successful individuals use each day, I’ve noticed the individuals in Silicon Valley seem to be constantly pushing boundaries forward. Who else is going to get your burrito delivered to your front door via a drone?

Wondering what keeps these folks going to achieve such a high output, I simply decided to ask.

I’ve spent the past month interviewing 15 startup founders to dive into the habits, tips and hacks they use that keeps them productive and motivated each day. Some have sold companies for over eight figures and many have had their products and services featured in top tier publications.

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    The interviewees and links to the amazing things they are working on:

    Will Bunker –Co-Founder @ Match.com, GrowthX Academy

    Sam Parr – Founder @ The Hustle.

    Neil Patel – Forbes Top 10 Online Marketer. Founder @ Quicksprout, KISSMetrics

    Luke Williams – Founder @ Blue Sea Studios, 2 minute revolution

    Dennis Yu – #1 Facebook Ad Expert in the world. Founder @ Blitzmetrics

    UJ Ramdas – Co-Founder @ Intelligent Change. (5 minute Journal).

    Ameer Rosic – Co-Founder @ BlockGeeks.

    Mike Brcic – Founder @ Sacred Rides, The Social Entrepreneur

    Sol Orwell – Co-Founder @ Examine.com, SJO.com

    Dave Burns –  Co-Founder @ Singularity Growth Accelerator

    Josh Fraser – Founder @ Torbit (Acquired by Walmart), Din, EventVue

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    Lea Von Bidder – Founder @ Ava

    Floyd Marinescu – Founder @ InfoQ, QCon Conferences

    Josh Fechter – Head of Growth @ GrowthX Academy

    Kumar Thangudu – Founder @ LinkTexting, GrowAmp

    Name your top 1 to 3 habits you have that help you stay highly productive and motivated each day.

    I use three specific tactics each day to prepare my body and mind. These are sitting meditation, regularly moving my body through working out, walking and yoga along with Bulletproof tea for sustained energy.

    Dave Burns

    Proper sleep pattern is critical to me. Everything you do is impacted by the quality of your sleep, why would you mess around with this? I also ensure I keep an avid curiosity by reading stimulating things and expressing gratitude by spending time with my family.

    Ameer Rosic

    I start and end each day writing down what I am grateful for in the Five Minute Journal. This helps keep everything in perspective. I also use the Productivity Planner to plan out my entire day and meditate regularly.

    UJ Ramdas

     Regularly going for walks helps clear my mind and push out noise.

    Will Bunker                  

    I use conscious focus and then relaxation. I do a block of 30-90 minutes of heads down work, and then I take a break of roughly 30 minutes. REAL focused work is incredibly powerful, and most people just never do that. I’m not a big fan of grinding, as your throughput and quality just suffers greatly.

    Sol Orwell

     I distill all tasks into a top 10 ranking of importance for the day. I then start at top and do just that task till completion before going on to the next.

    I also regularly review tasks and push them to a later date if they are less urgent. I have folders of pushed tasks that I never look at until that date, which takes those tasks totally out of my consciousness till then. This allows total focus on current top action items.

    Creating this back log of less important tasks also allows your staff to know exactly what they should work on when their time frees up. The question of them asking “what do I do?” doesn’t come up. Instead they always come to me with multiple options, and their recommendation. This exercises their judgment, and leads eventually to them being able to handle all decisions independently without consulting me.

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    Luke Williams

     For me it is critical to get a good night’s sleep. I threw away my alarm clock! Along with this I also emphasize getting regular exercise (using running or climbing) and reading regularly to always be improving my mind.

    Josh Fraser

    Gratitude to start the day; exercise sometime during the day, having a full breakfast.

    Dennis Yu

     I optimize my nutrition intake each day to avoid the energy crash that can happen. For me, this means I avoid carbs most of the time. Serotonin is a hormone secreted by carb intake and generally one you want to avoid that when you are trying to get things done.

    I also avoid alcohol. In my younger days, I abused this a little too much. However, I’ve since given up alcohol (about three years ago) because the hangover and side effects impacted my entire week.  I simply just wasn’t able to perform as effectively as I do now.

    Sam Parr

    I use meditation and then map our One-Page Strategic Plan. This informs and breaks down my daily schedule down to 1/2 hour chunks.

    Mike Brcic

    I start each day prioritizing fitness and meditation. I work out in one form or other every morning as well as meditate daily. My workouts alternate between several options so each morning feels interesting: kettle bells, weights, kungfu, a 1 hr walk, ecstatic dance, or a qi gong + pranayama set (for lazy mornings).

    Floyd Marinescu

     I walk 2-3 hours every day, write four hundred words each day and tell two people I appreciate them.

    Josh Fechter

     I use a ton of digital tools to stay hyper productive when I’m at the keyboard. My three favorite tools are Instapage.com for making marketing pages, TextExpander for speeding up any actions on the keyboard, and lastly FoxType for making sure I send emails that are polite.

    Kumar Thangudu

     I wake up in the morning, check my schedule for the day and make a specific to-do list of what I want to achieve that day. It ensures I stay focused.  I don’t only do this for each day but also for weeks and months. This is so I always have targets for a given week and a given month and work towards fulfilling them.

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    Sometimes stepping out of the office and working from a different place helps. A change of scenery keeps things fresh. I like sitting down in a nearby coffee shop to prepare for important meetings.

    Lea Von Bidder

     I approach the day with massive organization, knowing what myself and my assistant need to get accomplished. I work out every single morning before starting my day and then spend some time getting dressed up. We all feel more confident when we look good and it’s noticeable in how you approach the day.  I spend a large chunk of my day calling (actually calling with a phone) and connecting with other entrepreneurs and business partners. This helps me provide value where need be and build potential deals. I’ve made many close friends this way and I find it keeps things interesting and worthwhile.

    Neil Patel

      

    Do you have any specific morning routine you follow to prep you for your day?

    Hell yes. I wake up, make myself Bulletproof tea, meditate, do various weirdly effective journaling practices, and meet with my team. Dave Burns

    I wake up and drink 1 litter of filtered water to re-hydrate and kick start my digestion. I then turn on my espresso and sit underneath my infrared light while doing my Five Minute Journal. Ameer Rosic

    Here is the exact routine I follow each morning. Wake up. Five Minute Journal. Make bed. Cold shower. Supplements. Brush teeth. Do pullups. Stretch. Meditate. Plan out flow of the day. Eat breakfast. Head out to get some work done! UJ Ramdas

    Yes, it’s about 90-120 minutes starting at 5/5:30 am. In order: Vivid Vision review/affirmation, yoga, meditation, journaling, set daily schedule, read 20 pages, do 1/2 hour on a passion project. Mike Brcic

    Wake up, meditate in bed a bit, work out, shower, eat a healthy breakfast, read for 10-20 min and then go to work. Floyd Marinescu

    Check emails and Facebook mastermind groups I manage, eat oatmeal and peanut butter, drink coffee, and then walk for an hour and a half. Josh Fechter

    I do a serious of active stretches on my bed for a period of time. Can’t start a day with loose hips! Sam Parr

    I have a set routine to start the day. I read my favorite politics site (www.electoral-vote.com), then take a two-minute cold shower while blasting some Skrillex, take my meds (yay genetic disorders), and go for a little walk while sipping my can of coke zero. I get home, do the 5 Minute Journal, and am just rearing to crush it by then. Sol Orwell

    Setting my priorities for 20 minutes at start of day so I know exactly what to do. Dennis Yu

    I have a boot-up and shutdown list. Boot-up includes reflecting on the top item to move my company forward now or what’s been causing the most stress. The plan is then to address this immediately. I practice inbox zero and empty my inbox from top-to-bottom; clear any residual notes from yesterday; quick checks of Asana task system and Slack messages and pull top items from task folders and organize them. After this I turn on Do Not Disturb for Slack and my phone and start my focus block.  I prefer four continuous hours uninterrupted. Luke Williams

    Every morning, I wake up and do workouts with the Freeletics app on iPhone. Kumar Thangudu

     

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    Name one thing you couldn’t get through each day without.

     

    Mindfulness. Dave Burns

    Seeing my family. Ameer Rosic

    Meditation & Journaling. UJ Ramdas

    Reading. Mike Brcic

    Meditation. Floyd Marinescu

    Walking for at least 30 minutes. Josh Fechter

    Diet Root Beer. The Hustle

    The 5 Minute Journal. Sol Orwell

    Proper sleep. Dennis Yu

    Boomerang Extension for Gmail. Luke Williams

    1Pass – A tool for managing all my login info. Kumar Thangudu

    Chocolate. Ava

    Monster Energy. Will Bunker

    Purpose. Josh Fraser

    A Green juice. Neil Patel

     

    A number of tools were mentioned throughout the interview. To make it easy here they all are.

    Featured photo credit: Shutterstock 197404370 via shutterstock.com

    More by this author

    Paul Milano

    Helping others build a powerfully productive life

    How to accelerate your personal growth 15 Startup Founders Share Their Productivity Habits Possibly The Greatest Lifehack No One Talks About 5 Ways To Create A Powerfully Productive Mind

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    Published on September 28, 2020

    9 Essential Tips for Starting Your Own Business

    9 Essential Tips for Starting Your Own Business

    Starting your own business is the dream of every would-be entrepreneur. While it is a huge undertaking, the rewards of owning a business have proven to be worth it for millions of people all over the world. In this article, we will talk specifically about how to start your own business and how to make it successful.

    We have all heard the statistics about the high failure rate of new businesses:[1]

    • Roughly 20% of small businesses fail within the first year.
    • Roughly 33% of small businesses fail within two years.
    • Roughly 50%of small businesses fail within five years.
    • Roughly 66% of small businesses fail within 10 years.

    As these numbers suggest, starting a business and having a successful business are two vastly different things. Knowing how to start your own business the right way can mean the difference between long term success and failure.

    There is an old saying that people don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan. There is a lot of truth to this. Starting a business is more than just coming up with a good idea and jumping in. You need to have a plan for success, and that means you have to know how to set and achieve goals.

    From the time you get that (Eureka!) moment up until you open the doors, every decision you make will impact the business. So, it is important that you carefully evaluate every aspect of your business.

    1. Evaluate Yourself

    The cold hard truth is that good business ideas are a dime a dozen. Realistically, the chances of your idea being so unique as to be revolutionary are slim to none.

    This does not mean that you should abandon it. It just means that you will need to do more than just bring it to the market. The phrase “If you build it, they will come” works better in movies than real life.

    Be Honest – Doing honest self-evaluations are notoriously difficult. Humans just are not particularly good at accurately evaluating themselves.

    Here is a quick little experiment you can do with any group of 10 or more people. Ask them to hold up a hand if they know how to drive a car, virtually 100% of hands go up. Then, ask them to keep their hand up if they are better than average drivers. 90-95% of hands stay up.

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    So, what does this tell us?

    Because it is statistically impossible that everyone is “above average”, it illustrates the phenomenon called the “Dunning-Kruger Effect,” which is a cognitive bias in which people wrongly overestimate their knowledge or ability in a specific area. This tends to occur because a lack of self-awareness prevents them from accurately assessing their own skills”.[2]

    Because of this Dunning-Kruger Effect, it can be helpful to consult others about what they see as our strengths and weaknesses. Just assure the person that you are interested in their actual opinion and you won’t be hurt or offended if they give it to you.

    Some of the things you will want to include in your self-evaluation:

    • Are you a self-starter? Unlike being an employee, there will be no one standing over your shoulder telling you what to do or when to go to work. If you are someone who requires a lot of structure, starting your own business may not be the best option.
    • How organized are you? Planning and organizational skills are important, especially in the early stages of launching a business. Entrepreneurs that “fly by the seat of their pants” rarely succeed.
    • How do you handle risk and failure? The fact of the matter is, going into business is a risky proposition. Success is never guaranteed. Smart business people take calculated risks, but they are still risks. If you are someone for whom the thought of failure or losing money would be devastating, entrepreneurship is probably not for you.
    • How well do you get along with people? How are your communication skills? Most of us consider ourselves “people persons”, but business owners take communication to an entirely new level. When starting out, the business owner is a jack of all trades. You need to be able to interact with clients, business partners, industry partners, suppliers, staff, accountants, lawyers, regulators, and a host of others both accurately and decisively.
    • How disciplined are you? Resilience and perseverance are two of the biggest factors that will determine your success. As we stated earlier, mistakes will be made and some of them will be costly. You need to have enough resilience and perseverance to continue getting up after being knocked down. The only sure way to fail is to give up.

    If you are satisfied that you have what it takes to become an entrepreneur, it’s time to move on to the next step.

    2. Evaluate Your Business Idea

    Again, being able to honestly evaluate your own business idea is key. However, this step is generally not as hard as the self-evaluation because the criteria used in the evaluation process is more objective than subjective.

    Identify your target market – Who are the people that will be buying your product or service? For this step, it’s important to alter your mindset. Instead of thinking like a seller, start thinking like a customer.

    Can you articulate answers to the following questions?

    • What is the problem addressed by your product or service?
    • How does your product or service solve that problem?
    • Why is your solution better than the competitions’?
    • Are people willing to spend money on a solution to the problem?

    You will also want to gather as much information about the people in your target market as possible. At the bare minimum, you will want to know the following about your potential clientele:

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    • Age
    • Location
    • Income
    • Gender
    • Occupation
    • Education
    • Marital Status
    • Ethnicity
    • Number of Children

    All of this information will help tweak your product or service to better suit their needs. It is also helpful in developing a marketing strategy.

    3. Evaluate the Competition

    Generally, you can divide your competitors into three categories:

    • Direct competition – These are companies that offer the same products or services to the same target market as your business. You can think of Burger King and McDonald’s as direct competitors.
    • Indirect competition – These businesses will offer products and services that are similar to the ones you provide without being the same. Another type of indirect competitor can be one that markets the same product or service, just to a different clientele or market segment. Subway and McDonald’s would be indirect competitors.
    • Substitute competition – These are businesses that offer different products or services to the same clientele in the same market segment as you. An example of substitute competition for McDonald’s would be the local mom and pop diner.

    Once you have identified exactly who your competitors are, you will want to gather the following information:

    • What is the range of products and services they offer?
    • Are they expanding or scaling down their business?
    • How long have they been in business?
    • What do customers see as their positive/negative attributes?
    • Can you identify any competitive advantage they have?
    • What is their pricing strategy?
    • What is their advertising/marketing strategy?

    The purpose of the analysis is to identify your competition’s strengths and weaknesses to better compete.

    For example, if your competitors sell largely to companies with more than 100 employees. You may decide to target smaller companies with less than 100 employees. This means that your pricing and marketing strategies will need to be more in line with what the smaller companies expect and can afford.

    4. Evaluate the Financial Feasibility of the Business

    In developing a financial feasibility analysis, you need to have answers to the following questions:

    • What will it cost to get your business off the ground and become profitable?
    • What initial expenses will you have?
    • What ongoing expenses will you have?
    • What is the source of your start-up capital?
    • What is the earning potential of the business, and how long will it take to achieve?
    • How will you keep the business open and pay your bills until it becomes profitable?

    Once you have this information in hand, you will need to build in an extra “cushion” for all of the extra “surprise” expenses that pop up. Additionally, most people are overly optimistic when it comes to estimating the profitability of the business and the time frame needed to achieve it.

    How much of a cushion do you need? No one can say for sure. Some people will tell you to double or even triple your estimates. At a bare minimum, you should add 50% to the estimates you made.

    It can be disheartening to learn that your business idea really is not financially feasible, but it’s much better to make that discovery now rather than after the money is spent.

    5. Have a Professional Business Plan

    If you haven’t done so already, get yourself a professional business plan. When I say “professional,” I don’t mean that you need to go out and hire someone to do it. I mean that you need to know what a professional business plan looks like and take it seriously.

    Too often, new entrepreneurs neglect to create a business plan in favor of flying by the seat of their pants. This is not a good strategy. Without a plan, you won’t know where you are headed.

    “It can seem a daunting task when you’ve never been faced with writing a business plan before, but it’s a crucial task which will enable your venture to start and continue on a solid foundation. A business plan is also necessary when you’re looking to secure funding or investment. Essentially, a business plan is your vision for how the business will run, what you expect to achieve, and how you will achieve those things.”

    -Mike Gingerich[3]

    6. Use Common Sense Money Principles

    Successful start-ups keep a tight rein on expenses. As an owner, you should know exactly where every penny is spent. In all businesses, expenses tend to go up over time. But in the initial stages, you can count on having more expenses than income.

    In the earliest stage of being a startup owner, you will deal with an array of challenges. You have to familiarize yourself with the selected business landscape and look for options to expand the business venture while saving the operating costs.

    During this time-frame, trimming the operating costs is not optional; defacto is a matter of life and death for your startup. You can’t keep moving in a specific direction. It is mandatory to drift your business towards one goal with smart planning.

    7. Start With a Narrow Focus

    All too often, I see new business owners get into trouble by overreaching their goals. What happens is that people take on work outside their expertise.

    For example, a website designer will take on a client who wants SEO optimization in addition to the design

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    Assuming that the web designer is not an expert in SEO, there are several potential problems with this scenario:

    • Pricing – Without knowing or understanding the scope of SEO that’s involved, the chances of underestimating and losing money on the project go way up.
    • Quality – They may be the greatest web designer on earth, but that’s still only half of the job. Clients rightly expect the entire project to be done right.
    • Reputation – There is no second chance for a first impression. These first projects need to be done well if you want any chance of referral business. They will also determine if your first few clients become repeat customers or not.

    Remember, Amazon started out just selling books. They slowly expanded their business until you can now get virtually anything on their site.

    Be like Amazon. Start with a narrow focus and expand from there.

    8. Search Out and Use Specific Resources

    There are a lot of free resources out there that every new business owner should take advantage of. They are a great source of information, help, and most importantly, networking opportunities. Some of these resources are general, while others are targeted to specific types of entrepreneurs. Both are worth checking out.

    Here’s a partial list of resources:

    • The Chamber of Commerce – Their slogan is, “Designed for business owners, CO—is a site that connects like minds and delivers actionable insights for next-level growth.”
    • U.S. Small Business Association – They offer free business consulting services, SBA guaranteed business loans, certification for federal government contracting, and more.
    • Women’s Business Club – It is specifically for women to network and exchange ideas, but it also useful if you are marketing specifically to women.
    • BLACK ENTERPRISE – Similar to the Women’s Business Club, Black Enterprise is designed specifically for African American entrepreneurs. They bill themselves as, “The premier business, investing, and wealth-building resource for African Americans. Since 1970.”
    • Hispanic Small Business Resource GuideThis guide is filled with resources and networking opportunities for the Hispanic entrepreneur.

    9. Just Do It!

    Okay, I borrowed the phrase from Nike, but it’s good advice. It not only means taking concrete steps to start your business but also to get out of your own way.

    A lot of entrepreneurs (and regular people) are afflicted by a condition called analysis paralysis. It is when someone overthinks about a decision too much that a choice never gets made, resulting in inaction.

    If you are a perfectionist, you need to be especially careful of analysis paralysis. Perfectionists tend to wait until everything is perfect before launching their business, and many never get off the runway.

    Final Thoughts

    Accept that you will make mistakes, that you won’t make the right call all of the time, and that unforeseen obstacles will always pop up.

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    If you are truly committed to the entrepreneurial lifestyle and your business, then take the plunge. The goal isn’t to be perfect, but to build a business that changes lives.

    More Tips on How to Start Your Own Business

    Featured photo credit: DISRUPTIVO via unsplash.com

    Reference

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