About a month ago I had my 32nd birthday – marking almost a decade of being an entrepreneur (I started my first business at 22). Things have certainly changed in my entrepreneurial and personal life since my twenties. I’m smarter now, but also more risk averse (a natural phenomenon when you start a family).
In my thirties I’ve become a better planner and delegator as an entrepreneur, but I also find it nearly impossible to work the same hours I did in my twenties (I used to work several sixteen plus hour days a month in my twenties). No doubt, progressing from your twenties to thirties certainly has its pros and cons as an entrepreneur. But like a fine wine, entrepreneurs get better with age.
In this article I’ll share 5 habits I’ve developed in my thirties that have made me a better entrepreneur than in my twenties.
1. Became an avid reader: Naturally, as I’ve matured, my intellectual curiosity has grown. So two years ago I made a New Year’s resolution to read 25 books in a year. It was my only resolution that year. And I did it. Each year since, I’ve added 5 more books to that number.
Reading is vital to your success, both personally and professionally. Read a diverse range of books. I read about psychology, business, war and various fictional novels. I find that the diversity in subject matter triggers great ideas for presentations and makes me a much better writer. As the saying goes, you must be a great reader if you want to be a memorable writer. The challenge is making the time to read the books. Instead of watching T.V., read ten pages. Before turning the lights out, read five pages. Make the time (it will do wonders for your vocabulary too).
Socrates once said “Employ the time in improving yourself by other men’s writings so that you shall come easily by what others have labored hard for.”
2. Started writing frequently: I rarely blogged in my twenties. I just didn’t see the value in it. My perspective has changed now though. Whether it’s just a journal or a blog, or a full blown site dedicated to your musings, start writing at least twice a week.
Consistent writing has brought me great clarity. And it also helps me articulate my points better in the boardroom and during presentations. You may think you’re not a good writer, and that may be true, but like anything, the more you practice the better you get.
3. Established a healthier diet: You’re no spring chicken. While you’re not old, those extra calories are going to start impacting your energy levels and overall performance as an entrepreneur. In my twenties, particularly until about 28, I could eat whatever I wanted without gaining a pound. And my energy levels were great. But those days are done. If I eat unhealthy foods, I see it in my work performance. Garbage in, garbage out. Eat healthy to get the edge as an entrepreneur.
A tip: I don’t eat carbs before noon – they make me groggy. Cutting them out of my breakfast has drastically improved my energy levels in the morning.
4. Established a morning workout routine: In my twenties I would workout at night – often very late (around 9pm). Can’t do that anymore. It took a while to get used to, but I now workout in the mornings. This new workout schedule has improved my productivity at work.
Starting your morning with a workout gets your metabolism fired up and puts your mind in the right place to do battle as an entrepreneur.
Winning your mornings is so critical, and starting it out with physical activity is the key.
5. Diversified my projects and time spent: I was pretty one dimensional in my early twenties. I focused on building my first business and everything else came a distant second. While necessary at the time, behaving this way made me miss out on a lot life had to offer, including great new business opportunities.
As I’ve matured, I’ve learned the value of diversifying my time spent on projects. I’ve also realized that taking the time to do more exploratory meetings for possible synergies and new opportunities is incredibly valuable, despite the fact that there are never instant rewards from doing this. Build your pipeline of entrepreneurial and investment opportunities by actively meeting entrepreneurs from various industries and following up on grass roots ideas.
Don’t hide behind a desk. No matter how fun and profitable of a business you’re running, always look to start new ones. That’s the definition of a serial entrepreneur.
Different stages in our lives as entrepreneurs demand unique routines and habits in order to excel. In our thirties we often have a young family to juggle with our business ventures. We have responsibilities never imagined or understood in our twenties. By necessity, we are now less self-focused, which creates challenges as an entrepreneur (I’m literally concluding this article as I hold my baby in one hand and type with the other). But we also have a little more wisdom than we did in our twenties, which gives us an edge. And by adopting these 5 habits in my thirties, it’s made me a better entrepreneur than I was in my twenties.