Breakfast of Champions

breakfast imageFree time is a luxury independent retailers can rarely afford. Whether for pleasure or illness, running a business doesn’t stop with life’s hurdles, and it often demands more than the hours between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. There is one window of time, however, when e-book author Laura Vanderkam suggests business owners can make great strides in the name of personal and professional progress. In accordance with her theory, “If it has to happen, then it has to happen first,” Vanderkam’s latest publication, What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, dishes up a side of tips for success to go with your morning coffee.

Before making any changes to your typical morning routine, take stock of your current one. Some business owners simply swing their heels off the bed, grab the keys and head out the door, while others catch up on the latest headlines. In order to take steps in the right direction, first understand which way your feet are pointing by defining your morning rituals. Next, make a point to allow yourself more time to warm up in the morning. The thought of waking up earlier may sound daunting, but even five added minutes to the morning can decrease stress and help boost productivity throughout the day. Being in less of a hurry makes it easier to keep a level head during business hours, and affords you more time to tackle new projects. It can take several weeks to solidify a new habit, so be patient if rising early doesn’t come naturally at first.

The true value of having extra time around breakfast is that it opens your schedule to allow for personal upgrades. Based on what you found when taking account of your old morning routine, make adjustments to strengthen weak areas that will help your business. Use the coffee-brewing portion of each day to go over financials and research industry trends. If there are issues within your company that need attention, use this time to investigate solutions. Devote a few minutes every morning to broadening your knowledge of business practices, security technologies, product trends and management strategies. Whether the goal is to solve a problem or simply protect existing strengths, this morning checkup empowers business owners to stay in peak condition, in person and in profit.

The price of procrastination is often higher than anticipated, and so is the cost of starting a day unprepared. Mornings are the ideal time to plan out what you will accomplish in the best-case scenario. Of course, the unexpected interruption can get in the way, but you are still likely to achieve more if you start each day with a plan. Whether it’s in the form of a list, a reminder note, or a smart phone alert, establish goals for the day and approach them as though nothing could disrupt the process. Even if only a percentage of the items on that docket are accomplished by the end of the day, chances are the day was still be more productive than it would have been without setting goals.

Whether you’re like Apple’s Steve Jobs and ask the mirror what you want to do today, or more like Microsoft’s Bill Gates, spending every morning evaluating the competition, whether you mimic Unilever CEO Paul Polman’s 6 a.m. treadmill workout, or former PayPal head Jeff Jordan’s 5 a.m. desk routine, mornings are windows of opportunity and business leaders can find success by opening them.