Everyone knows that business owners end up wearing a lot of hats. A day in the life of an entrepreneur might include sales calls, marketing meetings, client lunches, press interviews and dozens of other things that advance the progress of the business.
But entrepreneurship isn't all about big, forward-thinking strategic moves. There are a lot of smaller tasks that startup founders take on, and whether or not they expected to be doing them, all of them are necessary to keep the business going. Nine entrepreneurs shared the most surprising items they include on their daily to-do lists.
Take brainstorming walks. "One of the habits that has served me well over the years is taking long walks [during] lunch with an employee every day. I find that talking in the same direction together connects people. It is less intimidating, and is a casual yet effective way to brainstorm. Many of our creative ideas came out of these talks. It's also good for our health!" – Aytekin Tank, founder and CEO of JotForm
Dress for success. "We have always been told that you need to dress for success. We did not realize how tedious that task would be on a daily basis. You always have to make sure your shoes are shined, your shirt is pressed and that you are ready for anything, because you never know who you are going to meet or where you are going to be. We are constantly networking and meeting amazing new people, and consequently, we always put our best feet forward, literally." – David Czinn and Josh Kahn, co-founders of Fruigees Organic Fruit Snacks [See Related Story: What Is Entrepreneurship?]
Look backward to move forward. "I thought being an entrepreneurial CEO meant focusing on the future and planning for tomorrow. However, I found it just as important to look backwards at what worked, or what didn't work yesterday, last week and last month. Looking back yields benchmark data so you can set accurate goals and forecasts, as well as learn how to do it better, faster and more profitably." – Christine Barney, CEO and managing partner of rbb Communications
Wash the dishes. "An entrepreneur means you are proactive. At the beginning you are CEO, sales representative, operations and dishwasher. Every task is an important task, and I learned to love washing the dishes with the rest of my team as much as I love making strategic decisions or brainstorming ideas for new product. Everything you do has value." – Mariquel Waingarten, co-founder of Hickies
Deliver a daily dose of inspiration. "The task I do every day is updating the dry-erase board upon which my office captures our 'Word of the Day' and 'Quotable Quote of the Day.' The first, I write from my dealings with clients and Opposing Counsel. The second, my paralegals and secretary write when inspired by events in our cases." – Kathleen Reagan, an attorney, professor of law at Concord Law School and founder of QueryHorse.com
Do housekeeping. "As an entrepreneur, I didn't think about all the daily tasks I would be doing to keep the company going. I still make my own coffee. [Until recently], I was cleaning the bathrooms here at work, taking our company recycling to the recycling center, taking out the garbage, etc. A few things have changed in the last few years, but I'm still very much involved in the day-to-day operations of the company." – Holly Bartman, founder of SuperflyKids
Watch the budget. "I didn't expect to be as deeply immersed in all of the minutia involved in operating a business — as many as 20 different daily tasks. In particular, I didn't anticipate watching our marketing budget every single day, measuring how each channel is performing and adjusting funds accordingly." – Joe Noonan, founder and CEO of Homespun Design
Engage in employee management and problem solving. "I did not envision I would spend the better part of each day meeting with my co-workers and solving problems. Surprisingly, this is what I do best and really enjoy." – Damian Rodriguez, president and COO of CDR Global
Find your balance in the juggling act. "Coming from the corporate world, I didn't realize as an entrepreneur that you have to strike the right balance between aspiration, ideation and execution every single day. It's like you're an improv performer in a one-man show, where you write, direct, produce and perform. When the day ends, you prepare yourself to start over and do it all again tomorrow." – Andrea Simon, CEO and founder of Simon Associates Management Consultants