A day in the life of an entrepreneur is never usually a quiet one. It usually starts with checking an overflowing inbox immediately upon waking up, spending the day putting out fires, taking conference calls over dinner and then perhaps ending with a moment of peace and quiet at night before waking up to start all over again.
I know; I’ve been there too.
Of course, I love the entrepreneurial journey and live for the chance to test my creativity. In high school, I started my first profitable company that connected companies with webpage owners to place banner ads. Once I got real interest from established companies – ranging from popular websites to advertising agencies – it lit a fire that could not be extinguished.
At University, I had similar ventures and started a software company with a professor to teach stock traders virtually how to trade. Through this journey, I created a hosted PBX system to run our communications systems. More and more, my obsession and appreciation for voice over IP (VoIP) and hosted PBX grew. Shortly after, I focused my attention full time on VoIP and started Easy Office Phone upon graduation.
Having successfully started multiple companies, I’ve realized the importance of staying innovative – even through the busiest times. Not only does your product or service have to be innovative, but so does your thinking and motivation. Thankfully innovation can come in all forms and at all times throughout the day. In looking at the typical busy day of an entrepreneur, here are five key times to think creatively and find some innovation.
Good Morning – Put Down the Phone.
Mobile devices are an integral part of our lives and an essential tool to running a successful business. However, in today’s age, it is far too common to turn off the morning alarm (often already on the phone) and immediately start checking emails before even getting out of bed.
It’s important to slowly wind up in the morning and prepare properly for the day ahead. This includes a well-balanced meal, catching up on world events in the newspaper and maybe even a morning workout to de-stress.
Office Life – All That Glitters is Not Gold.
In the office, the tendency is to roll your sleeves up and start working on the immediate issues. Whenever approaching a situation, however, it’s important to not only ask, “How do we solve this?” but also, “How can we make this better?”
Many entrepreneurs feel that in order to succeed, their ideas have to be the most innovative and new one out there. Throughout my experiences, however, I’ve discovered that asking how to make things better can also lead to an enhanced and progressive product or service. Take Facebook for example, it’s improved social media platform trumped the rest and is now innovating advertising strategies in the social world.
Take Lunch – Preferably Outside and Active.
According to a new survey by the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, people that take lunch breaks to enjoy leisurely activates (such as a walk), “felt considerably more enthusiastic, less tense, and generally more relaxed and able to cope…even compared with their own moods from a morning before a walk.”
Taking a break during the day allows the brain to recharge and tackle concerns with better innovative resolutions. Instead of going back to the same “what works” solutions, new ideas can appear. In addition, team activities during lunch can help promote camaraderie and a better working environment, leading to group brainstorming and fresh solutions.
Running Errands – Keep Your Eyes Open.
With running a business on your mind, it’s easy to get tunnel vision outside of the office. However, I’ve noticed that keeping an ear to the ground and having open conversations can lead to innovation, even in the most unexpected of places – perhaps the doctor’s office or in line at the local coffee shop.
By interacting with individuals outside of those you already see in a typical day, you open yourself up to new viewpoints and experiences. The other day, I was picking up lunch, and I overheard the shop owner talk about the new accounting software they had implemented. There was one particular timesaving feature he mentioned that sparked my imagination, and we’ve since added a similar capability to our own internal billing system.
Late Night – Recharge and Invigorate that Entrepreneurial Spirit.
Now that another challenging day has come and gone, it’s a great time to reflect on the key events and lessons learned from that day. Again, taking a break from technology to truly unwind can help recharge your brain. By enjoying my favorite personal activities at the end of my day or on days off, such as gardening and working outside, new ideas or ways of approaching things often spontaneously pop into my head and I’m able to revisit old issues with a new outlook.
While stressful at times, running your own start-up is also incredibly rewarding. It’s important to remember why you love the entrepreneurial journey and reinvigorate your spirit to push forward. Taking time to slow down throughout the day and draw innovation from unexpected places can give you the daily jolts you need – and crave.
Adam Simpson is the CEO and co-founder of Easy Office Phone where he oversees the creation of new sales channels including a North American Dealer Program, plays a leading role in software development, manages the company’s network infrastructure, and builds dedicated teams of sales, support and engineering staff. Under Simpson’s leadership, Easy Office Phone has grown rapidly and steadily into a highly respected provider of Hosted PBX service to clients throughout Canada and North America, since its launch in 2005.