Spotlight on Charles Burns- An Insight into the life of a business owner.
We spoke to The Apprentice’s Charles Burns- founder of Allergi, about a typical day in his life.
How do you start your day?
I’m a big believer that the early bird catches the worm, so I get up at 4 am. I live where I work so I don’t have to commute anywhere. I come downstairs, make a coffee and I get straight to it. If you love what you’re doing, which I do, I don’t need anything else. I check the news, but I would advise that you don’t become consumed by it, this allows you to be proactive rather than reactive. If you’re an entrepreneur trying to make something happen, you need to be a person of action, rather than spend your whole day reading and researching other things going on.
People are often way too concerned with what others are doing, whether that is social media or looking at your competitors. Stay in your own lane, paddle your own canoe.
Some days I get up and check my emails, respond to LinkedIn messages. Sometimes I have other things to do - I naturally am aware of what I need to do depending on the day. I need to have everything in harmony, to make sure everything is getting done and that my mental health is not suffering. I’m very self-aware and I like to make sure that I’m working at 100% productivity. This might mean I’m doing my emails, and decide that I need to take a break and go and do something creative like my social media campaigns. I like to be cross-functional. What I find is that whenever things become routine, they become mundane. So I don’t like to think of my day like that, as I find it can become robotic. As long as I get the things done in my day that I wanted to get done, I don’t stress about what time they get done. Therefore I look at my day as a structure rather than a routine. I work 7 days a week, but I don’t burn myself out because of the way I work.
I’ve cut my meetings down to a maximum of 2 per day, at 15 minutes each. If you set up a meeting for 60 or 90 minutes, that becomes the length of your meeting. You’re getting the same productivity out of it but allows more time in the day to be productive. I adapt depending on the situation, but that’s the general rule for how I plan meetings.
Nutrition has a huge impact on how we’re feeling each day, so I eat plant-based and gluten-free to allow me to look at my food as fuel to help me perform better throughout the day.
I try to switch off at around 6pm from all technology, including my phone. I watch limited TV, as I don’t find value in watching dramas personally. I will watch sports (my favourite team being Manchester United) and some documentaries that I find interesting. I spend time with my friends and family, maybe go to a restaurant. As I run a global business, calls can occur late depending on the timezone we are operating in.. Removing all technology and blue light early in the evening gives me a chance to wind down before I need to go to sleep (I’m an avid reader), ready for my 4 am start. I tend to read a book about a topic that I find interesting and helpful- such as business. I always take notes wherever I go, I use a notepad and pen so I don’t have to use my phone before bed and don’t get distracted.
What is the most challenging part of your day/job?
I’m very emotionally intelligent, and good at understanding people, which is one of my strengths as an entrepreneur. I work to get the best out of people. However, if someone steps out of line, or their skillset isn’t what the business needs right now, the hardest part of my job is being the one to tell them that.
How do you pick yourself up after a down day?
A tough situation might be something not going the way I wanted it to go, but that’s about managing my own expectations. If you’re putting too much emotional value on achieving a goal, then you’re destined to be miserable. So I make sure to not put too much pressure on a single outcome and manage my expectations. Even bigger than that, is to be self-aware. If I feel like a phonecall is boring me, or I can’t do any more emails, I’ll shift gear, maybe go and have a coffee, or go to the gym. I find that this puts everything into perspective and is a more positive way to live.
Do you have days off?
Not really, going away and being leisurely doesn’t work for me personally. I find it easier to do what I want every day. If I go away, I’ll take my laptop and if I want to work I will and if I don’t, I won’t. I don’t put the pressure on myself, I do what comes naturally to me and listen to my body and mind. If I know I need 3 days off, I’ll cancel my meetings and do that, the last thing you want to do is burn out and feel bad for a month. I would never say my lifestyle is perfect, but it is perfect for me, and that’s a crucial element for us all to figure out.
The only thing that matters is what is important to you.
For me, talking to my therapist is really important, it keeps me in check and allows me to chat about what’s going on in my life and my head and make sure my internal thermometer is properly calibrated. With all the success Allergi has had, is having and will continue to have, recalibration is of paramount importance to me. I’ve removed anything that doesn’t bring me enjoyment and fulfilment, whether that be people, places or pursuits.
Thanks again to Charles for coming back and chatting to us at Spotlight. You can find Charles here, and Allergi here. You can also take a look at Charles' Youtube channel for further information and advice. You can check out more of our blogs here.