How routines and rituals can help your startup

Ask any entrepreneur for their recommendations on how to live a more efficient startup life, and you'll notice one thing rapidly - there's always some sort of routine or ritual in there. Whether they help you to focus, or help you to unplug (a vital part of startup life that's often overlooked), rituals act as a way to step back, take stock of where you are, and come back ready to own it.

Matt Doyle is the founder of Launchcloud, creators of online and offline forms that help you catch and use data more effectively. He's also one of our Virgin StartUp mentors. This month he talks about his startup rituals, and why you should try your own.

"I’ve been watching all the Christmas adverts on the TV and it got me thinking about how much we overindulge at this time of year, in pretty much everything. It makes me grateful that I always set time aside to fit some exercise into my life so at least I get chance to take a few long walks, escape from the madness and work off the extra food. Walks with Becky, my wife and business partner, have become a ritual which gives us alone time, space and exercise all in one go.

I think rituals like these are really important, both personally and from a business point of view, and that’s really wanted to talk about in this blog post.

The benefits of a ritual

To me, a ritual isn’t always going to be something I enjoy; although those long walks really are a blessing. The point is that a ritual should enhance your life in some way, whether it’s at home or at work. In some ways there isn’t actually a boundary between these two places anyway. Let’s face it, if you’re unfit then it makes you feel lethargic at home and it means you aren’t performing as well as you can from a business point of view. Building up a ritual of exercise benefits you on both fronts.

Before you think I’m some sort of personal training guru obsessed with exercise, which trust me I’m definitely not, I have to say this isn’t just about exercise. I remember raising the question of ritual with Richard, at an event I attended before I became a Virgin ambassador.  He was on a panel with Jimmy Cregan, the guy behind Jimmy’s Iced Coffee. I asked them both about the importance of rituals and whether they have any.

They both spoke about the need to fit space into your life, and how this should be a ritual everyone has. Richard spoke about his passion for kite surfing and Jimmy talked about long walks along the beach. Both of these rituals in their lives allow them time to clear their minds and improve their clarity of thought for all those important business decisions.

Ritual, not habit

At this point I think it’s important to say that I believe in developing rituals rather than habits. A ritual is something that you know is going to have benefit for you or business, whether you enjoy it or not. It’s something that you can adapt or change depending on what you need from it.  A habit can often have negative connotations. It’s seen as something you do without real thought; something that you feel you have to continue doing, no matter whether it’s beneficial or not. I think that’s a really important distinction to make.

Using rituals to your advantage

I want to end this month’s blog by showing you how important developing rituals can be for your business. Every Monday, without fail, our team at Launchcloud goes offline. We go back to the pen and paper and we talk. It’s amazing how much clarity you can get just by removing yourself from the noise of technology for a short space of time.

We agree our priorities and talk about our challenges, and how we’re going to overcome them. Having this ritual means that we all start every week knowing exactly what we need to do and where we need to be by the end of that week. This doesn’t mean that we can never take time out to re-think during the week; that’s what I mean about rituals being adaptable.

Even writing this blog is now a ritual in my life, and I have to say it’s one I really enjoy. I value the opportunity to be able to share my thoughts with all of you. Hopefully, you’ve found this month’s thoughts useful. Enjoy the holiday season and I’ll catch up with you in 2016!"


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