There are two angles from which can approach your business.

The first and most obvious is in terms of the products + services, processes, systems and structure that help it run like a well-oiled machine. You can set these up in a way that maximises the time you want to invest and / or in a way that generates passive income.

Most people focus on this angle.

The second less obvious angle is to work on your day to day mindset and lifestyle that gives the machine the power, energy and vitality to run.

Mindset and lifestyle — although more abstract conceptually — create a more concrete base upon which your business can launch & grow.

They are the critical tools that most fledgling entrepreneurs don’t invest in at the outset.

But — ironically — they are the tools that ALL SUCCESSFUL ENTREPRENEURS CREDIT WITH THEIR SUCCESS.

You and your startup will be successful to the degree that you integrate and implement these mindset and lifestyle tools consistently.


Because they — and they alone — will help you stay in the game until you get the results you’re looking for.


Mindset & lifestyle help you stay in the game until you get the results you're looking for. Click To Tweet


But just before we start…

The word ‘tools’ in the digital age tends to imply some kind of app or multimedia, but any system, process or idea that helps us achieve the results we’re looking for is a tool.

I love Tim Ferris’s definition of tools from his book Tools of Titans: “Routines, books, common self talk, supplements, favourite questions, and much more.”

In the spirit of this I’m going for pure simplicity and impact — things you can do right now that cost you nothing so you can implement and integrate them ASAP.

I’ve included a system, a routine, a perspective shift, another routine, and a brilliant question that will help you focus on what matters most and fast track you towards the results you’re looking for.

Here are the 5 Startup Tools You’ll Want When You More Beyond the Corporate Safety Net…


#1: The System. Your Startup Calendar

When you transition from corporate employee to CEO of your own life and work you’ll need a Startup Calendar.

Your startup calendar is your guide to staying cool, calm and collected while you focus on what matters most.


Your startup calendar is your guide to staying cool, calm + collected while you focus on what matters most. Click To Tweet

When you’re starting up on the side you can feel squeezed from all sides: work, social, friends, family and relationships.

And when you’re starting up full-time you’ll bring those same habits and routines into your startup life, despite all those promises you made yourself about how would would do things ‘if…’

Using a Startup Calendar is one of the most powerful startup tools because ti requires you to define what is most important to focus on, schedule it, and then fiercely protect that schedule.

  • When friends invite you over for an impromptu afternoon BBQ you’ll know that it’s your dedicated Marketing slot so you’ll know you can join them at 5pm and not before.
  • When your partner wants to take the SUP boards down the river for a paddle on Sat morning you’ll know that every 3rd Saturday you spend interviewing your target audience – because getting under the skin of their pain is what will make your business fly. 

Scheduling your work — and your down time — is a powerful strategy because it creates clear boundaries that help you switch gear effortlessly.

You can’t argue with something written in black and white {or digitally evident on iCal/ Google calendar with reminders and alarms to keep you on track}.

It empowers you to prioritise and spend time on the things that matter. It also brings order and organisation to your corner of a chaotic world.

I dedicate an entire lesson to your perfect Startup Calendar in The Freedom Philosophy Classes because it’s just that important.

#2: The Routine. Your Morning Routine

And I’m not talking about your caffeine fix and a sprint for the bus.

Your morning as an employee — if you’re like most people — is a cross been the 110 meter hurdles and a horse race, literally trampling over people to pile on to the tube carriage, or cutting people up and sneaking through the amber light just before it turns.

You might even race through breakfast and the gym and make a quick dash for coffee, even if you arrive 3 mins late.

If this is your morning routine, stop that right now.

Slow it down, take your time, and — most importantly — make more time.

Create more space to relax and focus, vitalise your body, mind and spirit, and start strong.

It could be as simple as drinking a glass of water, a 3 min meditation, a 20-minute workout, a nourishing breakfast, and a leisurely walk to wherever you’re going.

The important thing is to:

  1. Define how you’d like to feel (peaceful? happy? energised? creative?)
  2. Define the activities or things that make you feel that way (swimming? yoga? running? grapefruit?)
  3. Allow enough time to experience those things before you get into your busy-ness

My morning routine changes based on my location, what projects I’m working on, whether I have a corporate contract or am working full time on my business, or whether I’m in a relationship.

It changes based on your needs right now.

Start thinking about how to leverage your morning for powerhouse potential and check out The 7 Steps to Your Perfect Morning Routine or The Pic ‘n’ Mix Morning Routine for More Happiness & Productivity to spark your imagination.

#3: The Perspective Shift. Time to Experiment.

An experimental mindset is critical for staying in the game until you see the results you’re looking for.

Everything you do in your life and work has a set of results.

What you eat. What you drink. What you say. How you exercise. How to present your work. How you sell yourself.

We usually categorise results into one of two buckets: success or failure.

But this is a very trite way to view the valuable information we receive in both cases, and perpetuates the idea that there are only two ways things can go: succeed or fail.

Since most of your ideas — and likely your first — will fail, it’s vital to see everything you do as an ACTION with a SET OF RESULTS.

To get into the flow of this, think of a recent perceived failure. Grab a journal and free write:

  1. What exactly did I do? (step by step)
  2. What were the results? (bullet all the soft and hard results: data, feedback, reviews etc)
  3. What worked, what didn’t? (bullet list)
  4. What are the key learnings you’ve gained about a) yourself? b) your idea? c) your approach to business? (bullet list)
  5. What changes in your life & work can you make from TODAY?

And that’s how to take an experimental approach to your work.

Think of yourself as a mad scientist. (You’ll feel mad most of the time anyway.)


All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

#4: The Second Routine. A Strong, Fit Body.

If you don’t have a solid, regular and impactful training routine that you’re committed to, it’s time to make it a non-negotiable.

Staying physically fit, strong and healthy is a strategic imperative for your life and work.

It’s the foundation, the baseline of your productivity and creativity and gives you the ability to run the sprints and the endure the marathon of entrepreneurship.

Physical stamina & strength creates a strong support system for your emotional and mental strength and can keep you afloat when you feel spiritually challenged, too. They each support and lean on each other, and together create more than the sum of their parts, so leverage them.

Mostly, your body loves to process mental stress physically. It just does. So it needs to move during the day. If exercise isn’t part of your morning ritual or daytime one, then make it part of your evening one. You’ll learn in 5 Ways to Free Up Your Mind When Your Stressed Out that stress and anxiety is just part of the startup package.

You’re so spoiled for types and styles of training programs there might almost be too much to choose from, but choose a daily class from your local gym, an online program you can do from anywhere like Amanda Bisk’s FBFM (my personal training program for last 18 months), sign up for a yoga series, or get a jogging buddy.

Keep it simple & drama free. Just do it.

Commit to one daily for 12 weeks and keep a daily journal to record your results.

#5: The Question. Your Impact

Ask: How is the world different because I was here?

Idea validation, another critical step skipped by the majority of fledgling entrepreneurs, is also a dynamic way to step into your personal power.

Personal power a strong leadership credential that can give greater meaning and purpose to your work and your life.

Again, idea validation is two-pronged.

  1. Does it solve a problem or fantasy that people have? (i.e. will they buy it)
  2. Does it leave the world a little different than you found it? (i.e social impact)

It’s #2 that will keep you showing up better than yesterday. Every day. Across many ideas, projects and businesses.

As I wrote about in How to Be Successful, it’s becoming more and more important to be a good human who does good business. And this question will help you become that and do that.

It gives you focus, helps enrich the bigger vision you have for your life and work, and acts as a regular sense check to keep you on track.

Grab a journal and write a stream of consciousness for 30 mins.

Ask: How is the world different because I was here?

Just see what comes. Email me with what happens. I’d love to know.

So which of these tools is your favourite? Commit to at least one for 12 weeks and record the results on all levels of your life and work. Drop me an email and tell me how it goes!


How would you like the clarity to flesh out your ideas and the tools to create a concise plan that propels you towards your startup vision?

Stephanie Holland Marketing Consultant

Hey, I'm Stephanie. And I'm your greatest ally.

I've mastered the art of turning an idea into a vision that can be reverse engineered into the immediate next steps, and this is what I share with you.

Find about more about my one-off, 4-week and 8 week strategy sessions, or send me a note and we can connect for a 15 min call to discover how I might be able to work with you to bring your idea to life.

Find out more


Image: Christopher Campbell

Other posts in the Startup Strategy series:

3 tricks for finding time to startup on the side

12 reasons to take a leap of faith and work for yourself

5 tools you'll need when moving beyond the corporate 9-5

4 steps to starting a business before you escape the 9-5

Forget a business plan; write a business clarity plan instead

Stephanie Holland
Stephanie Holland

I'm a strategist & traveler obsessed with thriving on all levels and helping fellow entrepreneurs launch their ideas with more ease, vision and likelihood of success.