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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

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    Paul Milano

    Helping others build a powerfully productive life

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    Last Updated on May 28, 2020

    How to Succeed in Business: 10 Skills Every Entrepreneur Needs

    How to Succeed in Business: 10 Skills Every Entrepreneur Needs

    Learning how to succeed in business used to be a case of being really good at one skill or area and milking it for all its value. Today, we are fast becoming a “skills economy”[1], driving trends in employment and even the way we approach entrepreneurship.

    To succeed in today’s business landscape, business owners and executives need to possess a mix of skills that enable them to stay ahead and adapt to change.

    1. Digital Savviness

    As the adage goes: “If you’re not online, you don’t exist.” Today’s entrepreneurs need to take to the internet to increase their presence and to remain relevant in an evolving business landscape.

    Companies like Amazon, Netflix, Airbnb and more are a testament to the disruptive impact of technology and the new image of what it means to be a skilled, successful professional. Think about today’s Mark Zuckerberg versus a banker from the 90s.

    Being able to quickly adapt to new technology, like cloud applications and collaborating remotely across the internet, is fast becoming the expected norm for executives.

    For businesses, discoverability on the web is becoming a quick litmus test for credibility. Potential customers and investors bank on the first page of Google to make up half their minds about making further transactions with a business. GE Capital Retail Bank found that 81% of retail shoppers conduct online research before buying[2].

    How to Develop This Skill

    For a start, begin by hosting your website and reserving all of your brand’s handles across social media platforms. While hiring a web developer might sound like the next step, consider first hosting your company’s site on more user and budget-friendly options like Squarespace, Wix, or WordPress.

    From here, you can start on some simple search engine optimization techniques that will increase your discoverability over time. Through keyword research, organic content creation, and external back-links, your site will, eventually, slowly but surely garner more traffic.

    Note, however, that an increase in search traffic does not immediately imply an increase in revenue. But it’s a start for delving into customer conversion rates in the future.

    2. Financial Forecasting

    Let’s face it, many business owners feel that time could be better spent on developing and running the business instead of planning for it financially. However, a financial forecast serves as a roadmap for shaping any kind of business and is not just reserved for the likes of listed companies providing financial guidance to shareholders.

    Largely, forecasting and planning your financial goals will give you a clearer idea of resources required and ways to measure success. It can also provide assurance to investors as a testament to the thorough research and planning you have done when included in business plans.

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    However, inaccurate forecasts can lead to livid investors and mismanagement of expenses, which could potentially result in financial teething problems. When creating a detailed financial forecast, a rule of thumb is to always start with your expenses.

    How to Develop This Skill

    Generally, it is easier to calculate and predict your expenses compared to your revenue, so noting down your expenses is a starting point to benchmark how much you might need to generate in sales to turn a profit. It is a good habit to regularly update and evaluate how adjacent your operations are to what you have forecasted.

    Building a precise set of growth forecasting will take time, but, remember, you are an investor in your own business. You must have confidence in the validity of your business concept.

    3. Video Production Skills

    The rise of visual mediums and the dopamine boosts it gives to users has long been researched and proven as providing an unfair advantage to businesses that leverage it[3].

    If you’re a heavy user of social platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and even YouTube, you’ll know that it’s pretty hard to stop once you get started on a binge-watching session.

    In fact, video marketing is seeing a non-stop rise in popularity and effectiveness when used in conjunction with social media to drive traffic and boost conversions[4]. According to research, by 2019, 80% of global Internet consumption will be video content[5]. With video marketing becoming more ubiquitous, businesses that fail to leverage the power of video are almost certain to lose out.

    How to Develop This Skill

    Some ways to get started with using videos for your business would be:

    • Creating a series of educational videos that cover useful information for your audiences
    • Live videos interacting with your community at large (these can be shot on your smart phone)
    • Using videos on landing pages to boost your customer conversions

    4. Benchmarking Personal Goals to Business Performance

    As far as you get into achieving endeavours on your business bucket list, it’s important to remember that being an entrepreneur is just one facet of your identity. Don’t forget why you started in the first place.

    Ambition usually stems from some lifestyle goals you’ve always wanted for yourself and the people you might be providing for today or in the future. Working 24/7 is a surefire route to burnout and may manifest in an unhealthy interaction between partners and employees as well.

    How to Develop This Skill

    Money can’t be your only motivation, but look into the positives of how having more financial freedom and time can impact your life. In the short term, involving your interests in your businesses can make everyday tasks feel less like mundane errands. In the long run, your business may also bring you fruitful rewards, including personal fulfilment.

    Set realistic income goals to manage expectations for your performance and your company’s revenue, especially during its earlier stages. See how projected growth can align with your personal goals and make adjustments accordingly to maintain a balance between growth and your personal values.

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    5. Leveraging Healthy Competition

    Some of the best athletes who have spent their careers neck-and-neck with each other have changed the standards in their respective sports. The notion of healthy competition applies to the business world more than it may seem on the surface.

    Innovation has always been a key driver in free markets, which were intended to boost economies and provide customers with more choices. Just like the biggest sporting rivals that build on each others’ game, you can use your biggest competitors to hone your strategies.

    How to Develop This Skill

    Turn a competitive market landscape into an advantageous one by leveraging on long-established systems your business proposes an alternative to. Learn from the mistakes of predecessors once you discover their product or service loopholes.

    For example, the Dollar Shave Club’s viral video[6] became a big hit because it hit the right buttons of consumers being tired of purchasing expensive but low quality shavers from incumbent retail giants. Going in second meant they could fill a gap competitors might not even have been aware of.

    Apart from lifting off from what could have been your second-mover advantage, solidify your place with your business’ own first-mover advantage — whether you’re tapping into a new geographical region, unexplored market sector, or introducing a business model that proves more viable than others. There’s always room for improvement in business from mature markets to newly emerging ones.

    6. Honing Pitches to Investors

    Stand out in a broad mix of budding entrepreneurs by mastering the art and science behind a solid investor pitch that can determine the acceleration of growth for your business. Get comfortable talking about your ideas and receiving feedback or questions from peers, partners, and advisors before setting out to make a good impression on potential customers and eventually investors.

    The phrase “If you can’t convince them, confuse them,” will certainly never get your business funded, especially in front of seasoned venture capitalists who have seen thousands of startup pitches. You should be able to deliver a quick elevator pitch that summarizes your unique proposition and its market viability for casual meet-ups[7] because you sometimes only have a few minutes to make a good impression and move on to another meeting.

    How to Develop This Skill

    Develop your investor pitch deck by highlighting your business’ strongest points, which will vary for every funding round. Create your deck with the investors’ interests in mind, balancing technical jargon and buzzwords.

    You can also introduce your diverse team of experts, some proven traction, or the current state of the market to demonstrate profitability and the attractiveness of the opportunity to investors.

    Ensure each slide flows into the other to develop a persuasive narrative, utilizing consistent and intelligent design principles to support your content.

    7. Developing a Strong Brand Identity

    In a world of saturated content and numerous emerging businesses that offer similar service lines, developing a unique brand identity will help you cut through the noise and stand out from your competition. From aesthetics to the body of clients you’re associated with, these contribute to how you’re perceived by prospects looking to buy.

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    Evaluating your brand identity is linked to identifying your target customers, your business goals, a proposed promised land your solution achieves, and identifying values that are aligned to these components. Brand identity serves as a guide to maintaining consistency and creating an image you want your business to be associated with.

    How to Develop This Skill

    Efforts to strengthen your brand identity are closely tied to giving marketing strategies a direction. By knowing what makes your target customers tick, their values, ideals, and behavior, you will be able to elevate your business from simply being a service or product to be utilized into a projected brand customers and partners would be happy to identify with.

    8. Automating to Your Advantage

    The need for efficiency is often the general problem new businesses aim to resolve across all markets and industries. Assure that your proposed solution is more efficient than what’s readily available in the market to instill the need for it.

    Efficiency is often achieved nowadays through digitalization and new technologies. While your product or service may not necessarily be the most innovative out there, you can apply the same automation concept across your business’ daily operations.

    How to Develop This Skill

    Shorten turnaround times and conversion rates by investing in small tools for automation where you deem fit. While it may come out of your pocket in the early stages, evaluate the holistic advantages and benefits of automating certain processes. At our office, we’ve tried using collaborative apps like Workplace by Facebook, Slack, Asana and a few other popular apps to reduce human error and friction.

    9. Managing Millennials

    Your team plays an integral part in whether your business will accelerate at breakneck speeds or be dragged down by dead weight. Hence, it is imperative to be selective and strategic when choosing your team.

    In leaner small business teams, the addition of every new teammate can impact how your organization culture evolves.

    Today, learning to manage millennials has become an increasingly sought after skill as well due to the increasing proportion of them in the workforce[8]. Some brand them as strawberries that are easily bruised and others loath their need for “meaning” and wearing t-shirts to work.

    How to Develop This Skill

    Naturally, there are many misconceptions surrounding millennials, and various businesses would do well to leverage their unique skills.

    A couple of ways to manage a millennial team include:

    Encourage a Flat Team Structure With Open Communication

    Maintain clear professional lines between supervisors and subordinates but keep communication channels open to ensure no negativity festers.

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    Offer Constructive Feedback

    Baby boomers are well known for their straightforward approach to delivering feedback. Millennials, on the other hand, don’t always take feedback in a form that could be construed as deep criticism.

    Being constructive with feedback ensures that we don’t coddle millennial workers but also tell them the things they need to hear.

    10. Maintaining a Network of Connectivity

    Instead of proposing a business that’s ambitiously and entirely disruptive to the supply or process chain in a respective industry, foster connections with other companies that cater to the same target customers as long as they provide a different service.

    By creating partnerships, both you and other businesses thrive simultaneously through creative avenues for customers to utilize your products and services for a holistically improved user experience.

    Sole market disruption isn’t always the best strategy to take. Not everybody has the opportunity, bandwidth, or financial capacity to dominate and monopolize a marketplace. See your potential for integration into other businesses and services as a good opportunity for co-collaborative marketing efforts with shared campaigns, split costs, and a strengthened customer database for everyone to tap into.

    How to Develop This Skill

    Regardless of the stage your business is in, never stop looking for ways to expand your network. Keep in contact with mentors you can look to for valuable industry advice that can help you avoid pitfalls and costly mistakes. Strengthen brand awareness by attending cross-industry events and casual meet-ups to open your business to reinvention and innovation.

    As the African proverb goes:

    “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

    Collaborating will get you where you want to go quicker and gear you up for further growth.

    More Tips on How to Succeed in Business

    Featured photo credit: Tyler Franta via unsplash.com

    Reference

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