For many small business owners our days are filled with action. Important meetings, pressing deadlines, urgent priorities, and then those surprise situations which push themselves to the top of the list. How we start our day has a massive bearing on how we continue. By creating a productive morning routine as a structure which never changes we can run our mornings on autopilot. This is productivity without the pressure and it has massive positive effects which snowball the benefits into the rest of our business growth.
Studies show that our will-power is strongest first thing in the morning. We are more alert, more focussed, more positive and more willing to roll up our sleeves and get stuff done in the morning than we are at any other point of the day. This is the perfect opportunity for the small business owner who needs to make the most of every moment to stay ahead of the curve. I love my mornings. I get so much of my most important routine work done in those first couple of hours of the day. For me, this is the structural maintenance stuff that I need to keep everything humming along while I grow. The basics that must be attended to or else I would land myself in hot water.
I have encountered two horror stories recently in the area of accounting. A business consultant friend of mine told me the first troublesome tale. They were working with the owner of a big company without routine processes to maintain their accounting which landed them with a Xero account that was bursting at the seams. Over 2000 unreconciled transactions which needed to have accounts set up, reconciled and invoices matched. It was a management disaster that took them months of unproductive time to sort out, and some additional headaches with the ATO.
The second sad story came from a client of mine who needed help with organising her business accounting. I sat speechless as she showed me through three years worth of start up business transactions spread over three different bank accounts, with two of them mixing personal transactions in with her business ones. I helped her create a basic structure for her chart of accounts and advised her to make the management of her accounting part of her daily routine. I then sent her off to her accountant to square away the items I’m not qualified to help with. She had a massive admin task on her hands, and again the stress was multiplied with the ATO chasing her up for overdue returns.
Now I am no accounting expert and I lean heavily into the support of my accountant for the management of my taxes. But I am the only one who can be responsible for managing my daily business transactions and maintaining accurate, up to date business records. We must start out as we aim to continue. There are ongoing business admin tasks that can quickly become chaos if they are not managed regularly, but I have found that there are plenty of jobs which disappear to almost nothing like fairy floss dissolving in your mouth if you do them daily.
I know plenty of people who rave about the benefits of self care time in the mornings. Yoga, meditation, work out, reflections and gratitudes are high on the list of “Great Ways To Start Your Day” for lots of business gurus. I agree these things are a priority, but I personally start my day on my phone, flicking through several apps to manage my accounting, social media, emails and team members. My morning routine goes like this:
- Open my calendar to review what I have scheduled for the day
- Hootsuite on my phone to push scheduled content through to Instagram
- Open Xero on my phone to reconcile transactions from the day before
- Open Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram on my phone to check and respond to Social Media notifications
- Open GMail on my phone to take a quick scan of anything urgent I should attend to when I first sit at my desk
- Open Meetup on my phone to check event notifications and messages from members
- Open Slack on my phone to check in with my team
- Then, I go outside for a run or some yoga, or head to the gym
- Make a delicious healthy breakfast that will see me through to the afternoon, if not all the way to dinner
- Open my computer and get into emails. I was in there the day before so there’s no build up
This routine literally takes me about three hours, and sets me up to manage the tasks which build up to overwhelm if we don’t stay on top of them. My assistants have very clear Routine Documents which spell out exactly how they are to start every day too, and then each of their routine items are scheduled in RTMS, our business process software. Nothing is missed, payments are never late, tasks never get out of control, people are contacted regularly, and all is well with the world.
You can set up your perfect morning too by following these three steps … And if you do number four, you will be able to delegate some of your morning work to really get some momentum going:
- LIST the routine things you need to do on a daily basis to keep on top of them
- SCHEDULE that list for every work morning
- TIME the list: how long does it take you to cover your basics? This is how long you need for your Morning Routine
- DOCUMENT how to do each step of the items in your morning routine that need to be done but not necessarily by you