Success and healthy habits often go hand in hand — especially for entrepreneurs. That’s because high achievers, like entrepreneurs, understand the importance of being intentional with every task, and making the most out of every day.
One common question that people ask entrepreneurs is, “how did you become so successful?” Many would tell you that focusing on small improvements within your business every day can yield big results. The same goes with forming habits; small, consistent habits can change your life.
Part of forming a habit is the consistent repetition of the behavior — and they’re not always easy to adopt. In fact, while some habits may take an individual a few weeks to form, research indicates it could take as long as 66 days before some habits become automatic.1 While this may sound intimidating as an entrepreneur, forming intentional and daily habits is one way to help you handle unexpected business challenges.
We asked nearly 150 entrepreneurs, across a variety of industries, to speak on the habits that make them most successful in their careers and in life. Read on or skip to our infographic to discover our top 10 daily habits of successful entrepreneurs.
1. They read
Being an entrepreneur can be hectic, so making time to read a book may be the last thing on your to-do list. But, if Warren Buffet can dedicate 80% of each day to reading, so can you! His philosophy is that reading allows knowledge to build up, like compound interest.2
Reading books is also an excellent way to stimulate creativity and educate yourself about your business’ industry. What’s more, reading before bed allows you to unwind after a long day and can help you fall asleep faster.3
Trevor Rappleye, CEO of CorporateFilming, commits to ready each morning. He shared,
“I read for 30 minutes a day right when I wake up. It allows me to start the day refreshed — the worst thing an entrepreneur can do is immediately open their email. Do not do that!”
2. They stick to a daily routine
Creating and sticking to a routine can help you operate more efficiently during the day. Why’s that? Setting daily expectations and repeating tasks through routines will help prepare your brain and body for what’s next, and promote optimal performance. Routines have also been shown to improve important areas of your health like stress levels and sleep.4
Maulik Patel, founder and CEO of Click Matix, swears by routines and believes sticking to this habit is the foundation of being a successful entrepreneur.
“Creating a routine has boosted my productivity more than ever before. Every morning and night I do the same tasks. Wake up, wash face/brush teeth, meditate, bodyweight exercise, and eat my breakfast. Every evening I have a separate routine involving journalling, hygiene, and planning for tomorrow. This helps keep me consistent. The best entrepreneurs make daily, weekly and monthly routines like mine, grounded in keeping themselves balanced, productive, and happy. Entrepreneurship is stressful and you’ll find steady routines become your bedrock on which you structure your life.”
3. They listen to uplifting music
We all have that one song that never fails to boost our mood. Now, imagine starting each day with your favorite, uplifting toons. Give it a try! Music has proven to boost productivity, and make monotonous tasks feel less daunting.5 Research also shows that listening to music can reduce stress by lowering the amount of the stress hormone cortisol in the body.6
Michelle Devani, founder of lovedevani, shared that making the most out of every day starts with setting a positive tone in the morning.
“As a founder who has a lot of responsibilities and obligations, I always try to make the most of every workday. And what helps me do so are my daily rituals, especially my morning routine. Starting my morning with uplifting music helps boost my mood, which helps me keep a positive outlook throughout the day.”
4. They plan tomorrow, today
Effective entrepreneurs are always ready for the day ahead. The more prepared you are, the more relaxed, confident and productive you’ll be. Instead of going over your day first thing in the morning, successful entrepreneurs plan tomorrow, today.
Making a nightly habit of preparing tomorrow’s to-do list, goals, schedule, meals, and even clothes you’ll wear, will help you start your mornings with a game plan and ready to dominate the day.
Peter Schoeman is the owner of The Dog Adventure. He shared that planning ahead and ensuring you’re prepared for whatever lies ahead is a critical ritual for successful entrepreneurs.
“The daily ritual that helped me improve my productivity is to plan tomorrow, TODAY. As part of my night routine, I make a list of my tasks for tomorrow and plan how different appointments, meetings, and so on will all be held together. This lets me pack my bag, thaw my meal prep, and overall get equipped for tomorrow when I’m awake and alert. So when I wake up and I’m dizzy and tired I don’t have to worry about it. Give this a try tonight, you’ll find it takes way less time than you assumed, that it provides you some understanding about tomorrow you didn’t have before, and it helps you catch things you might have missed.”
5. They meditate
It’s no secret that entrepreneurs need to be able to think quickly and make big decisions on a dime. Staying mindful through meditation practices can help you increase your focus and have clarity that leads to improved decision-making. Studies show that even just brief bouts of mindfulness training significantly improves visual-spatial processing, memory, and executive functioning.7
Meditation is a common practice among successful entrepreneurs — including Darryl Higgins, who is the founder of Athlete Desk. He recommends mediation as a way to not only relax you but keep you focused on the task at hand.
“Being an entrepreneur requires me to multitask and manage my business to keep it running. That is why doing meditation every morning before I start my day helps keep my mind relaxed and focused so I can execute my tasks better.”
What’s more, mediation also improves sleep and energy levels — which is essential for entrepreneurs who live face paced lifestyles and rely on optimal productivity. If you’re new to meditation, here’s a simple guide to help you get started.
6. They start their day with exercise
We all know that exercise improves your physical health, but starting your day with movement can also enhance your creativity, memory, and overall cognitive skills. Many studies suggest that the parts of the brain that control thinking and memory are larger in people who exercise than in people who don’t.8
Many entrepreneurs have baked this into their morning routines to help them feel energized, positive, and ready to take on the day. If your schedule doesn’t allow for a morning trip to the gym, consider pairing your morning coffee with a 15 minute walk, or incorporating desk exercises into your workday.
Andrea Heuston is the founder and CEO of Artitudes Design, and incorporates exercise into each and every morning. This not only helps her stay physically and mentally healthy, but allows her creative juices to start flowing.
“The very first thing I do in the morning is work out — usually, that means taking a walk outside or on a treadmill, and for at least an hour. That time is sacrosanct, vital for my mental and physical well-being — and my family and team know it. In fact my executive assistant knows not to book any early morning meetings unless it’s urgent or a client crisis. My walk not only gets me started off on the right foot and energized for the day ahead, but my best ideas also come to me when I walk so it’s a very productive time.”
7. They stay current
When running a business, there are several different factors that can impact its growth and performance. Staying current with industry trends and daily news will help you know all the happenings in the market and the world. In turn, you’ll be able to make better and more informed decisions on behalf of your own business.
Heather Mason, who is the founder and CEO of Caspian Agency begins her day catching up on current and relevant events.
“I start every morning by reading the trade publications in my industry. You have to stay current with whatever is happening in your sector, and doing this first thing in the morning gets the creative juices flowing for the rest of the day. I then check Twitter, the New York Times, CNN, and the Wall Street Journal to get an idea of what’s happening in the world more generally. It’s important to understand the market forces that affect our sectors and to get a secondary perspective.”
8. They make time to unplug
The average person spends at least 3 ½ hours a day using the internet on their phone.9 For entrepreneurs, time spent in front of a screen is likely higher. Unfortunately, research shows that the more time you spend on a social media site or online, the more likely you are to develop depression.10
With this in mind, it’s a good idea to unplug from your phone or laptop for a few hours each day to reconnect with your thoughts, and the world around you. Taking time alone with your own thoughts and away from the screen may also promote creativity, as well as improve your ability to cope with daily stressors.
Even busy entrepreneurs take time to unplug from the hustle and bustle. Don’t believe us? Malte Scholz, CEO and Co-Founder of Airfocus, commits to going offline for one hour during his work day.
“Entrepreneurs don’t even realize how easy it is to become overwhelmed and if they become too exhausted it is easy to make mistakes that may jeopardize the entire business. To avoid such scenarios, I have found a habit that helps me rewind quickly and clear my mind from all work-related things. I like to go completely offline for one hour during the day. My job requires me to spend a lot of time in front of a screen and I often feel very tired at the end of day. One way to relax is going completely offline and spending time with my family and friends. I try to turn off literally all devices I have except for one phone number that is reserved for a few of my closest people.”
9. They journal
Journaling is a great way to practice gratitude, reduce stress, and improve your mental health. For entrepreneurs, it can be extremely beneficial to put thoughts to paper to help with decision making and creativity. You can also put pen to paper to write down goals, brainstorm ideas, or to-do lists to help motivate yourself.
Furthermore, writing can help unwind emotions caused by stress throughout the day and help you disconnect from your surroundings for a short period of time. Highly successful entrepreneurs see the value of writing as it helps remind them of the bigger picture instead of short-term stressors or inconveniences.
Valentina Lopez, who is the co-founder of HappinessWithout, attributes her productivity and daily business success to journaling.
“Being an entrepreneur has taught me to focus more on what matters including my personal and business goals, and I learned that social media can be a huge distraction from those. So, instead of mindlessly scrolling online, I resort to journaling. I spend 15-30 minutes a day writing and listing down everything that’s on my mind – ideas, plans, future goals, bad habits I want to improve, and everything in between.
This habit has helped me become mentally and emotionally aware of myself and my surroundings, helping me handle my own business and team better. In fact, I’m able to accomplish more tasks because of journaling compared to when I check my social media first thing in the morning. Journaling lets me breathe through writing and has been a great help in my productivity.”
10. They pace themselves
Last, but not least, successful entrepreneurs adopt the ability to manage their time effectively throughout the day. Time management is what separates effective and efficient entrepreneurs from stressed and overwhelmed ones. Ultimately, how to manage your time and proceed with daily and weekly tasks makes a big impact on your ability to accomplish long-term goals.
High performing entrepreneurs will make a daily habit of prioritizing important or harder tasks first, and tackle the small things later.
Jay Bregman, CEO of Thimble, preaches the habit of pacing oneself. The development of this simple habit can help you reach your goals and stay calm in the process — even if the world is falling apart (enter COVID-19 pandemic).
“Pace yourself. There are 168 hours in every week. Use them as smartly as possible. This does not mean doing everything. It means acing the right things, ruthlessly, and that’s it.”
If you’re a new entrepreneur, incorporating these daily habits can go a long way toward reaching both your business and personal goals. Turning a beneficial daily task into a habit can improve your productivity, ability to achieve your goals, and improve how you cope with daily stressors — all critical for those who live the lifestyle of an entrepreneur.
To ensure your business is built to last, commit to making small improvements each day — and you might just be shocked at what you’re able to accomplish.
- National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine. Importance of Creating Habits and Routine.
- Blinklist. Reading Habits of the Wealthiest People in the World.
- Sleep.org. How to Fall Asleep Fast.
- Northwestern Medicine. Health Benefits of Having a Routine.
- Inc. Listening to Music You Love Has Surprising Health Benefits.
- Research Gate.Effects of Music Listening on Cortisol Levels and Propofol Consumption during Spinal Anesthesia.
- Science Direct. Mindfulness meditation improves cognition: Evidence of brief mental training.
- Harvard Health. Exercising Can Boost Your Memory and Thinking Skills.
- Washington Post. Our iPhone weekly screen time reports are through the roof, and people are ‘horrified.’
- Forbes. Research Links Heavy Facebook And Social Media Usage To Depression.