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What's The First Thing You Do Every Day?

First Thing

First Posted: 08/15/11 02:27 PM ET Updated: 08/15/11 08:24 PM ET

While there are only 24 hours in a day, most busy entrepreneurs could probably use twice as many. Running your own business is hardly a 9-to-5 gig, and when your name is on the door, it's almost impossible to just punch in and punch out. For better or for worse -- and usually for the better -- being an entrepreneur is a lifestyle, not a career.

But without a little structure and a consistent routine, a startup or fast-growing business can quickly spiral out of control -- and the fun and carefree entrepreneurial life can become anything but.

Every entrepreneur has their own style, and what works for the dot-com kid who pounds Red Bull all night may not work for the book publisher who prefers to rise at dawn and go for a run.

It can't hurt to take a page from other entrepreneurs who have found success -- and a path for getting there. So we asked our Board of Directors how they start their busy days. As you may have guessed, they're e-mail addicts just like the rest of us. But they also like to read, exercise, spend time with family, even go for a motorcycle ride. Here's an inside look at their morning routines.

Lexy Funk

Co-Founder And CEO, Brooklyn Industries
"The Contrarian"

"I usually wake up around 4 a.m. There is that dreadful moment of, 'Do I check my BlackBerry, go online and answer e-mails or read a book on Stalin and bore myself back to sleep?' Literally, it's the same dilemma every day. Of course, in the office, the first thing I do is start talking and meeting with people at Brooklyn Industries."

Clint Greenleaf

Founder And CEO, Greenleaf Book Group
"The Cowboy"

"Work out. There's no way to get through a day if you're not able to handle the rigors of running a business. And the best way to do it is to get your body ready by working out."

Eric Ryan

Co-Founder And Chief Brand Architect, Method
"The Soap Guy"

"Check my e-mail on my iPhone when I get up, and then create to-do list for the day from my master list of priorities when I get to my desk."

Tate Chalk

Founder And CEO, Nfinity
"The Matador"

"The very first thing I do every day is have a cup of coffee with my wife, Grace. We take a couple of minutes to get caught up on what is happening in her life and about nonsense stuff that has nothing to do with anything. It's a great break before I get started for the day. And although I can't always give her the most time during my day, I can give her the first time. That I can control."

Phil Town

Investor And Author Of Rule #1 And Payback Time
"Rebelman"

"I read. I wake up in the morning and reach for the computer, check e-mails and then start reading. If you're going to be successful in our brave new world, you're going to have to know what the heck is going on. And you're going to need both a micro and a macro point of view to have a clue about when to invest how much on what in your business."

Warren Brown

Founder, CakeLove and Love Cafe
"Cake Daddy"

"Exercise or commit to a time later in the day when I will. Without exercise every 36 hours or so my mind gets fuzzy. Really."

Julie Jumonville

Co-Founder And Chief Innovation Officer, UpSpring Baby
"The Mad Scientist"

"I sit down and eat breakfast with Grace (10) and Reece (7) and walk them to the bus stop every morning. Fifty percent of the time my son Reece is the one cooking pancakes and they are so yummy."

Bob Parsons

Founder And CEO, The Go Daddy Group
"The Renegade"

"Have a cup of coffee and go for about an 80- to 100-mile motorcycle ride. During the ride, I plan my day. It clears my head. Sometimes I think of nothing and I have my best ideas right after I think of nothing -- they just seem to pop into my head."

Gary Whitehill

Founder, The Relentless Foundation And New York Entrepreneur Week
"The Sheriff"

"First and foremost, I get my learn on by executing on the six things I have written on the bottom-left of the whiteboard hanging in my bedroom that are daily to-do tasks. They include reading 40 pages in the book I am currently engaged in, reading my daily RSS feeds (63), and reading The Wall Street Journal."

Steve Strauss

Columnist And Author Of The Small Business Bible
"The Mr. AllBiz"

"Like most people, I think, I try and pound through the e-mails and get them out of the way. There have been times when I have felt like I e-mail for a living, so I find it important to get them done early in the day so I can concentrate on other, more important, things."

Danielle And Jodie Snyder

Co-Founders, DANNIJO
"The Sniper And Lil' Snipes"

"We usually check e-mail, read WWD, and get in a quick work out to clear our heads."

Jennifer Hill

Startup Advisory And Venture Lawyer, Gunderson Dettmer LLP
"The Advocate"

"Take five minutes to prioritize the three things that I want to accomplish by the day's end because they directly impact my goals. The key to success is to focus your energy on the most important items, instead of endlessly trying to reduce a mile-long to-do list."

Rob Adams

Director, Texas Venture Labs at the University of Texas
"The Validator"

"Get up early and do something productive. That means up by 6 and some combination of e-mail, reading what's happening in the world, exercise and a healthy breakfast."

Elizabeth Busch, Anne Frey-Mott And Beckie Jankiewicz

Co-Founders, The Event Studio
"The Clipboard Queens"

"The first thing we do every day is answer e-mail."

The original version of this article appeared on AOL Small Business on 7/9/10.

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