Last year we put over 300 students through The Foundation, an online mentoring program guiding entrepreneurs to start and scale software companies, from scratch, as quickly as possible.
A small handful of students were outliers. These students were making a minimum of $2,000/month after six months. And the top student had over $20,000 in sales… in under six months… for a product that wasn’t built yet.
I wondered, “What separated these outliers from everyone else in the program? Why did they make so much progress, so quickly?”
So I interviewed these top students on their mindset, habits and patterns. What I realized is that all our top students shared a very similar morning ritual.
This start almost every single day with these three tasks.
1) Review WHY They Want To Build A Business
At the Foundation we believe knowing the ‘how-to’ is much less important than knowing WHY you want something. The power is in the why. Not the how.
Each of these students had a clear reason WHY they wanted a business. And almost all of them start each day by reading this first.
This doesn’t take a lot of time and it’s the most effective habit we’ve found to help you stay focused on your end goal when things in your business get hard.
Here is a quick-start guide to building your own ‘Why’:
1. On a sheet of paper write three categories:
- Things I want to have.
- Things I want to experience.
- How I want to contribute to the world.
2. Set a time for two minutes and list as many things in each category as possible. Don’t let guilt get in the way, if you want an expensive car, write it down. Do this for two minutes for each category.
3. Now, review everything you wrote down. Set a timer for five minutes this time. And, on a new sheet of paper, write down how having a business will help you achieve all of those things. What will your life be like after you create your business? Who will you become as a person? How will you act? Write it all down.
4. Now take what you just wrote, edit it to what resonates the most with you, and type it in on your computer so it’s about a half page to a page of content. Make sure it encompasses the most important things you desire in your life and WHY you want them. This should take about 5 minutes.
5. Lastly, print this sheet of paper. Frame it, place it by your bed, and review it every morning.
This will give you a daily dose of inspiration to take action… especially on the days you don’t want to.
Our most successful students read this document every single day.
2) Spend The First 60 Minutes Of Their Day On The Highest Leverage Activities
At The Foundation, we believe long term results come from consistent action over time. Not exhausting yourself over a few days, but spreading out your energy over time, consistently.
Have you ever heard of the 20 mile march? This jist of it is this:
In 1911, two groups of explorers raced to reach the south pole first. This was a treacherous journey with no phones, no satellites, temperatures of -20 degrees… and no room for errors.
The first group was lead to death. The second group made it exactly on time.
What was the difference? The first group tried to march as much as possible during the good weather days. And rested on the bad weather days.
The second group only marched 20 miles every day. Rain or shine. That’s all they did.
With this commitment to a clear, incremental goal every day, the team easily made their goal.
So don’t focus on long, hard, crazy work bursts. Simply do 1-2 hours of uninterrupted work every single day.
– Write out what you’re going to focus on for the next hour
– Clear all your distractions: Turn off phone. Turn off email. Turn off Facebook and IM. Don’t let anyone talk with you. Only work; nothing else
– Set a timer for sixty minutes
– Don’t stop until the timer goes off
When it comes to spending time on the highest leverage activities, our students spent nearly all their hour getting to understand the pains of their customers. Not building a Facebook following. Or brainstorming ideas. Or writing articles.
They spent almost all their time on the phone with prospective customers to learn everything they could about the market. As they understood the pains of their market, then they transitioned to sketching solutions to their problems, preselling the software,
Do this daily and you’ll make more progress in six months than you could dream of.
3) Spend 5 Minutes Reflecting On What Worked And What Didn’t
At The Foundation, we believe success and failure are both only temporary. And they don’t matter. What matters is learning and progress.
To improve each day, our top students took 5-10 minutes after each work session to reflect on what worked and what didn’t. This lead to incremental improvement in their work everyday and over the course of even a week would drastically improve their effectiveness in moving their businesses forward.
Reflecting allows you to step outside of yourself and have an objective look at the work you’ve done, especially if you do it right after you finished your work when everything is still fresh in your mind.
Here’s what you do:
After your timer goes off, ask yourself these three questions:
– What did I learn?
– What will I do differently moving forward?
– How can I be more effective with my time?
Building a business is hard and it’s a large reason why most people choose to be employees.
But, if you have a clear reason why, you take one hour of uninterrupted action each day, and you reflect on what you learn daily, you’ll make more progress in six months than most do in a couple years.
Andy Drish is the co-founder of The Foundation where they help entrepreneurs ‘Start From Nothing’ and build a successful business in six months.
To see a real life case study of this in action, check out how Carl quit his job at Tesla Motors six months after joining the Foundation… even though he didn’t have a business idea when he started.