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The UAE attracts thousands of dynamic entrepreneurs every year, but what makes some more successful than others? Apart from having a fantastic idea and the determination to see it through, the world’s top business leaders often share a similar routine to stay one step ahead. These include:

  • Starting early
  • Using free time wisely
  • Planning ahead


By emulating successful entrepreneurs, you stand more chance of turning your business into a success. And the great thing is, it’s easy to do. It just requires a little organisation and commitment.

There’s no time to waste, so let’s look at three simple steps you can take to energise your daily routine.

Start your day early

It’s no surprise the world’s most successful entrepreneurs are all early risers. Billionaire Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson wakes up at 5am, Kohl CEO and former Starbucks President Michelle Gass gets up at 4:30am, and Apple CEO Tim Cook starts the day at 3:45am.

Early birds really do perform better, with better attentional performance and faster reaction times, according to a recent study published in the academic journal Sleep. In contrast, night owls’ biological clocks may result in their normal working day being compromised.

How an early start can give you an edge

Getting up early can work wonders if you are serious about becoming a successful entrepreneur, especially in a country as dynamic as the UAE.

  • Rising just two hours earlier every day gives you 14 extra hours in the week and 62 per month
  • Imagine the huge business advantage you can get simply by starting a few hours earlier


Sir Richard Branson says he wakes up early to “work through my emails before most of the world logs on”. He cites the importance of being “accessible and available” to his company offices in other time zones. Whether you’re head of a multinational or an up-and-coming entrepreneur, the key is to be connected when others are not so you can get things done faster.

Use your free time constructively

Time management is critical for business leaders. This doesn’t mean working all hours of the day. Indeed, working too many hours inhibits performance, resulting in output rising at a decreasing rate. The secret is to allocate your time more effectively, and use downtime to relax the body and mind.

Many CEOs admit to working at least a few hours on 79% of weekend days and 70% of vacation days, resulting in lack of free time, poor work-life balance and serious health risks. In contrast, the most successful CEOs still find plenty of time to relax, exercising for about 45 minutes every day and sleeping an average of 6.9 hours a night. This is substantial given the demands of the role.

Finding time to exercise is particularly beneficial as it releases endorphins that trigger positivity. This can help you think creatively and find new ways to overcome business challenges. In fact, the more exercise you do the better your job performance, thanks to the subsequent improvements in both health and mood.

How to make every minute count

To emulate the world’s top business chiefs, it’s important to make time for health, fitness and rest, and more importantly, to use this time constructively. 

  • Exercise regularly – a single session of aerobic activity can have a positive effect on your mindset for the day
  • Get enough sleep – losing just one or two hours sleep each night can affect your ability to function
  • Take time to relax – consider meditation to improve attention and performance


Plan for success

A fundamental reason for starting a business in the UAE is to benefit from the government’s vision to create one of the world’s most progressive economies. Entrepreneurs who want to share in the Emirates’ success require a similar high level of planning.

Just as the UAE government has plans that reach right up to the year 2117, the world’s top business leaders plan a long way ahead to create a clear path to success. In fact, nearly one quarter of CEOs’ time is spent on strategy and 75% of their time is scheduled.

However, planning ahead isn’t just about long-term strategy. The most successful entrepreneurs make new plans every day to stay one step ahead of the competition. They set goals, achieve them, set new goals, achieve them, and repeat. It becomes a healthy obsession.

How to plan effectively

The most successful companies – and the people who run them – have clear mission statements, corporate strategies and short/long-term goals.

Start with a mission statement articulating your vision for the company. With this in place, it’s a good idea to carry out a SWOT analysis to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to help you get a clear idea of where your business sits in the market.

It’s important that you and your team are crystal clear about where you want to be and how you are going to get there.

This means you need to:

  • Develop clear corporate strategies to achieve your mission
  • Define realistic goals that you and your team can achieve on a daily, weekly, monthly or even yearly basis in support of your strategies
  • Commit to your goals but don’t be afraid to change them in response to market and customer trends


Success doesn’t happen overnight. Indeed, most successful business leaders fail at some point along the way. But importantly they learn from their mistakes.

By learning from the world’s best, you can minimise your own mistakes and drive your business forward more quickly to achieve your corporate mission. Ask yourself what you can do better, and start the process today.