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15 entrepreneurs share their morning rituals

Updated: Feb 18, 2022

Morning routines are everything. They set the tone for the entire rest of the day. Whether you rise at 5:00am and pursue a dedicated regime of meditation, exercise, news-reading and hearty breakfasting, or whether you sleep until 9:30am before answering emails in bed; your morning routine will define how your entire day pans out.

And everyone has one. Even if you don’t think you have a morning routine, the fact that you don’t think you have a morning routine is, in itself, a morning routine. But if you’re looking at your daily morning state of affairs and thinking it could do with some improvement — possibly you’re looking to be more productive in your working day, or perhaps you simply want to make the most of the daylight hours — you’re in luck.

We asked 18 entrepreneurs about their morning routine; and their answers are sure to inspire, motivate and see alarms everywhere being set considerably earlier.

Will Bowlby, Co-Founder of Kricket

What time do you wake up? Usually 7:30-8:00am, though I still appreciate a lie-in from time to time!

What do you listen to? Quite often I’ll put on a podcast in the morning. I find Gardeners’ Question Time or the Food Programme [BBC Radio 4] quite cathartic! Sometimes I’ll start the day with classical music, or my more ‘relaxed’ restaurant playlist.

How do you get yourself motivated? The first thing I do is take out the dog. Then my morning starts with a black coffee, a smoothie and some vitamins. I’ll go to the gym a couple of times a week if I’m lucky; otherwise, I like to take my time and wake up slowly!

What do you have for breakfast? A boiled egg on sourdough with butter and marmite most mornings. Special occasions call for a grilled bacon and cooked tomato sandwich.

Robert Rowland, Co-Founder and COO of United Fitness Brands (owners of Boom Cycle, KOBOX and Barrecore)

What time do you wake up? 6:00am, usually; unless the dreaded insomnia hits, [in which case] it’s about 4:30am.

What do you listen to? Music wise, it’s pretty varied; so it can range from classical, to blues, to jazz in the a.m. Usually, though, the soundtrack is the cats wanting breakfast early!

How do you get yourself motivated? The very first thing is always a cup of tea; then it’s a read of the paper, and the perfect morning is usually rounded out with a run along the river which clears the cobwebs and generally puts a big smile on my face. I try to avoid checking emails and messages until a little later in the morning, as using a morning routine to set up for the day is really important. After a run, I then try to do some meditation to get my head in the game and get focused for the day.

What do you have for breakfast? Breakfast is a pretty erratic one; it’s often skipped altogether. Otherwise, [it’s] toast with peanut butter, granola with cherry yoghurt; or one of my favourites is an egg fried with Indian spices on toast, with lashings of butter.

Tobias Cox, Co-Founder of MULO

What time do you wake up? Between 6.30am and 7:00am. I don’t sleep with my phone, or have an alarm clock, and try to wake up naturally as much as possible.

What do you listen to? For the last year, I’ve listened to 15 minutes of meditation in the morning. It helps create an equilibrium from the outset of the day, and I’ve found it a useful tool to assist with focus.

How do you get yourself motivated? I try to fit in a run at the start of the day, as I find it difficult to squeeze in exercise once the day has begun. Most of the working day is office bound, so I always run outdoors.

What do you have for breakfast? Oats (in various forms, depending on the season) and multiple cups of green tea.

Finnian Gill, Co-Founder of John Paul Jones

What time do you wake up? Unlike many people, I have very few qualms about working late in the evening. I have an overactive mind: so as the day goes on, my motivation and energy increase. Because of this, I [use] the mornings to recharge, [so have] a consistent 8:00am wake up. Not to mention the need to offset the obvious late nights that come with working in the alcohol industry!

What do you listen to? Again, mornings for me are about calm, quiet and taking stock. It’s the only hour of the day that you have with yourself, and that’s very important. Ignore that time, and [you’ll] burn out. Then, when you’re ready, bring the noise.

How do you get yourself motivated? Always reading the news: national, regional and sector specific. You never know what small piece of information might open a door: a new restaurant opening, a new trend forming or even just staying up to date with the world [in which your consumer lives]. It’s all invaluable. Oh, and no coffee before 10:00am at the earliest; it stops my body being able to wake up on its own.

What do you have for breakfast? Light, healthy and colourful, going hard on vitamins like fresh mango, blueberries, [and] pineapple.

Grayson Hart, Co-Founder of Puresport CBD

What time do you wake up? I usually wake up at 6:15am. Soon after, I have a coffee – [to which I] add my Puresport Boost CBD Oil, which is a great way to start the day boosted naturally. The CBD helps take [any] spike or jitters away from the caffeine and balances it out.

What do you listen to? I listen to music at the gym.

How do you get yourself motivated? My wife Chelsea and I head to our favourite Crossfit Gym in London Bridge called Arc Athletic, where we do a 60 minute workout which starts at 7:00am. This is such a great way to start the day; it gets the endorphins going and gives a sense of accomplishment. I find my mind is much clearing for starting the day with exercise!

What do you have for breakfast? My go-to breakfast before work is a homemade smoothie with bananas, frozen berries, spinach or kale, oats, peanut butter and some protein powder. I often add a dose of Puresport CBD Oil to my smoothie too, for that extra dose of clarity and productivity to kick the day’s work off!

Timothy Armoo, Founder and CEO of Fanbytes

What time do you wake up? I wake up around 8:30am.

What do you listen to? I have a Kanye playlist that includes all his unreleased tracks. I think it’s called Yandhi Unreleased on YouTube.

How do you get yourself motivated? The Kanye playlist — nothing better. I believe you’ve got to prime your brain at the beginning [of the day], and this gets me into the mood.

What do you have for breakfast? I don’t eat breakfast; [I have my] first meal at 1:00pm.

Mark Wogan, Co-Founder of Homeslice

What time do you wake up? Usually about 6:00am, but not at the weekend.

What do you listen to? I listen to Chris Evans on Virgin. It’s a great show!

How do you get yourself motivated? I try to exercise every weekday morning. I do Versa Climber Classes at BXR three times a week, and weights or Pilates.

What do you have for breakfast? I have three double espressos before I leave the house and don’t eat till lunchtime.

Lewis Robling, Founder of Cocabana and Head of Adventures at Puresport

What time do you wake up? Usually at 6:30-6:45am, it gives me enough time to prepare my morning (just about palatable) green smoothie! But the time I wake up varies every now and then depending on training and work schedules. Lately, I’ve been training for a long distance running event; so there have been a few 5:00am starts thrown in there to get an early morning run in!

What do you listen to? This varies, too! Music wise, I’ll rotate between high energy tunes if I need a boost, or some relaxing acoustic vibes. I’ll have a few audibles on the go: books like Atomic Habits, Bounce or Ross Edgley’s The Art of Resilience. Podcast wise, I pretty much stick to The Plant Proof podcast with Simon Hill. I’m a bit of a nutrition nerd…

How do you get yourself motivated? I get such a boost from my morning smoothie. It has celery, kale, green apple, lemon, ginger, blueberries, an array of green powders, our Puresport Boost Oil (which has CBD, Lions’ Mane and ginseng) and sometimes garlic. The garlic is only thrown in if I’m not seeing anyone for three hours…! This smoothie gives me more energy than any coffee does!

What do you have for breakfast? Following the smoothie, the one staple I have is my breakfast (always served in my Cocabana coconut bowl)! Think superfood chocolate porridge vibes. We have oats, cacao powder, chia seeds and flax seeds, with oat milk as a base. Then I top it with cacao nibs, sliced banana, almond butter and whatever else I fancy. One to try if you haven’t already, for sure!

Robert Ettinger, Chairman and CEO of Ettinger

What time do you wake up? I have always been an early bird, and wake up at 5:00am.

What do you listen to? I listen to Radio 4 for the news, weather and Farming Today, which I find fascinating.

How do you get yourself motivated? [When I wake up,] I drive to the Hurlingham Club, [which is] very close to my office, for a 6:00am swim.

What do you have for breakfast? Once in the office, it’s a working breakfast. Fruit and muesli whilst going through emails, and then catching up with our international customers who are eight hours ahead. By 8:00am, when the rest of the Ettinger team arrives, I’m pretty sorted and ready for meetings and whatever the rest of the day brings.

Shivraj Bassi, Founder and CEO of Innermost

What time do you wake up? I wake at 5am every day. I find it quite calming to get up and make the journey into the office when most other people are sleeping. The roads tend to be emptier, and it gives me a chance to collect my thoughts and prepare myself for the day ahead.

What do you listen to? I’m a big fan of podcasts, and have a whole range that I tend to listen to as I drive into work. Some of my favourites include Today In Focus and Politics Weekly by The Guardian, Hardcore History by Dan Carlin (I’m a self-confessed history geek), The Memory Palace, Serial and various business and marketing related podcasts.

How do you get yourself motivated? After I get to the office — but before I crack open my laptop — I’ll start my day with a workout. That could be weight-lifting, cardio or often a mixture of both. For me, having a great workout is the best recipe for having a good day.

What do you have for breakfast? Healthy! A mixture of seeds, berries and oats (along with a couple of tablespoons of any one of the Innermost protein blends), some fruit and a whole load of water. I’ll tend to switch between The Fit Protein and The Lean Protein depending on how my goals change over time. I’m a big fan of breakfast; and after my morning workout, it’s much needed.

Freddie Garland, Founder of Freddie’s Flowers

What time do you wake up? 6.45, as I have a 2 year old!

What do you listen to? I listen to a combination of Radio 6 and LBC on my 45 minute journey to work. It’s a great time to get ready for the day ahead and think about things to be done.

How do you get yourself motivated? I have a black coffee every morning on my journey in, and then love to chat to people when I get [to work]. Hearing about what people are up to really gets me in the mood for the day.

What do you have for breakfast? Black coffee on the journey [to work], then a banana when I get in: followed by Alpen Fruit ‘n’ Fibre about 20 minutes later.

Jeremy Poland, CEO of Nutri-Genetix

What time do you wake up? Usually between 6-6:30am. I don’t set an alarm because I prefer to wake up naturally. It’s far less stressful than being ripped from your sleep by an abusive alarm! I always wake up thinking about work and because I am in a transition phase from being asleep to being awake, I find it the perfect time to reflect on priorities and think about any problems that need solving, particularly complex issues.

What do you listen to? I really enjoy listening to the podcast What You Will Learn by Adam Ashton and Adam Jones. They do book reviews in 30-120 minutes and cover all the business classics, like Thinking Fast, Thinking Slow; The Lean Startup; 7 Habits of Highly Effective People; etc.

How do you get yourself motivated? I like to get in 45 minutes of exercise between 7-8:00am on at least three weekdays. I have always been a solo trainer in the gym – I just plug in my headphones and do a CrossFit style HIIT or weights workout. I’m a big coffee fan [too], so when I sit down at my laptop, without fail I’m accompanied by an oat-milk latte.

What do you have for breakfast? Genetically-personalised NGX BodyFuel! I have a shake after my workout, either with coconut water or just water. Because it’s a powder that contains 27g of protein and my personal amount of micronutrients, it’s easy, healthy and keeps me full until about 12pm.

Sean Holman, Co-Founder of The Other Saint

What time do you wake up? Usually about 6:00am; sometimes a little later, if the kids let us lie in. I haven’t set an alarm clock in years.

What do you listen to? Normally one of my kids screaming to get up; shortly followed by Danger Mouse or Inspector Gadget. When they are settled, I will have a quick scan online of BBC, the FT, Al Jazeera and The Guardian, just to see what’s happening out there. Plus a little look at LinkedIn and Instagram.

How do you get yourself motivated? The school run, by bike or car. CrossFit at least once a week; if that fails, a few Ibiza classics and lots of tea (as I’m not that fussed by coffee). Then a quick dash to the office. I get organised and get started, which is the hardest bit; but once I get going, I won’t stop until the evening.

What do you have for breakfast? Tea, tea and then some more tea. If I’m feeling healthy, banana pancakes: if not, simply cereal or marmite on toast.

Labi Akinola, Co-Founder of Elite Evolution

What time do you wake up? 6:00am if I have clients in the morning; but on average, 7:00am.

What do you listen to? Upbeat music like Afro House, Funky House or Soulful House.

How do you get yourself motivated? Positive words of affirmation, and creating bite size to-do lists in the morning that I know I can complete. I also like to train in the morning, with our signature workout, E300, which is 100 sit-ups, press ups and squat variations.

What do you have for breakfast? Toast, spinach [and] mushrooms. However, I have been doing daily intermittent fasting, [when I’ll] have my first food after 1:30pm; usually with a banana.

Charles Bennett, Co-Founder of Golf Guru

What time do you wake up? I need eight hours of sleep to feel and perform the best the next day, so I usually wake up at around 7.30am to make this happen.

What do you listen to? I’m a bit of a night owl, so I usually listen to most of my ‘inspiration’ in the evenings whilst driving to the gym, cooking or relaxing. Before work I try to keep my mind as free from outside information as possible so that I can be fully focussed for my first meetings and let my mind have a breather (except when I need to play some loud music to get me up!).

How do you get yourself motivated? I usually need two things to get me in the zone in the morning: 15-20 minutes outside, and a fresh orange juice (I still don’t drink coffee, to everyone’s surprise). Doing this gives my mind the time to naturally distil my thoughts into [my] priorities for the day.

What do you have for breakfast? I typically have breakfast after the first hour of work, which will be something quick but healthy like cereal or avocado on toast. I’ll then have some fruit or a smoothie after another hour and a half of work. This way, [I’m forced] to get away from my screen but also maximise my productive morning brain.

Dimitri Oosterlynck, Founder of GIMBER

What time do you wake up? Early in, early out. At 5:00am, the buzzer on my watch gets me out of bed to start working.

What do you listen to? For two hours, until 7:00am, I mostly enjoy focused work to the sound of a silent world: except [for] birds chirping and the rumbling of a fridge. These are my most focused hours of the day.

How do you get yourself motivated? My morning coffee is a daily run in the fields surrounding my house, with pumping music in my ears. Every day, I stop halfway to give my cow, Paula, a big hug. Strangely, she takes away all my stress.

What do you have for breakfast? Oats, raisins, nuts, rice-coconut milk and fresh, unpasteurized honey; 365 days a year. Since I switched to this, I don’t have any cravings and feel a tremendous focus until noon.

Patrick Kidd, Founder and Managing Director of Patricks

What time do you wake up? 6:30-7:00am; my three young kids usually come in and jump on us! [With] three kids under six, my mornings aren’t as rock ‘n’ roll or stereotypically entrepreneurial as they used to be! That said, we do dance a lot.

What do you listen to? We all listen to Triple J radio station (no screen time for the kids), and a bit of a flick through Instagram/emails while I sip my coffee. Instant coffee, too. I know it’s controversial and can freak out coffee connoisseurs, but I love it!

How do you get yourself motivated? Coffee, surf check, stretch (YouTube video tutorial), mindfulness exercises in the shower, moisturise, cologne; and then I’ll choose [what I’m going to wear]. Good clothing makes me look and feel good, as well as setting the tone for the day.

What do you have for breakfast? Black coffee. I usually fast till 11:00am.

Mark Ward, Founder of Regal Rogue Vermouth

What time do you wake up? Around 6:30am; or earlier, if I’m lucky with the sun, as I don’t have blends or use curtains. I love to wake up with the day.

What do you listen to? It’s always alternative music from various sources, or the odd podcast or interview with someone interesting. I’m not a fiction lover, so true insights into people’s worlds and lives is far more engaging for me.

How do you get yourself motivated? I wake up ready. I love the mornings, and I’m up and out of the house by 7:00am with a sea swim or exercise class in my area, a bike along the beach and then home for breakfast. Last year, from Feb ‘20, I swam in the sea a minimum of five times a week, and maintained it until Feb ‘21. It changed my day, and made each day easier to navigate.

What do you have for breakfast? With so many good farm shops and producers in Sussex, I generally always have varying mushrooms on locally made bread toast with a rare loose leaf green tea. I can’t drink coffee, so my go to has always been green tea. With Australia [being] one of our main markets, I’m always checking in with them from 6:30am, and then I’m ready for the EU from 8:30am: but those first two hours to myself set me up for the day.

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