My Working Day – Sarah Yates – Co-founder of Sea Arch Drinks

As the leader of a company, you are there to set an example and to lead and inspire a team of individuals to achieve a series of business goals. But how do these business leaders go about their daily routine? We spoke to Sarah Yates, Co-founder of Sea Arch Drinks, about her working day.

What time do you usually wake up?

I wake up very early at about 5:30 am but I don’t get up straight away. I will check my phone for news, emails and social media as we have working partners and customers in different time zones around the world.

What do you typically have for breakfast?

I usually eat a selection of frozen fruits with natural yoghurt, and a little granola, I try not to eat too much early in the day, preferring to save my calories for later when I seem to need them more. Weekends, however, are for crispy bacon and egg sandwiches with lashings of butter and ketchup!

What is the rest of your morning routine?

I may have a couple of Zoom meetings scheduled, otherwise, it will be about highlighting what is most urgent and addressing that first. I will talk over with my partner Geoff, (who is also my husband), about what’s happening imminently and if things are moving along as they should, how we are dealing with any ongoing issues, and sharing any news.

What is the first thing you do at the start of your working day?

Have a cup of good, strong English Breakfast tea. I grew up in a house where a cup of tea was essential to the day’s activities whether that be work or play. I see no reason to deviate from that, it gives me a chance to gather my thoughts and plan for the day ahead.

How do you prioritise your day’s work?

I will always have a ‘to do’ list, but the day will often prioritise itself with urgent deadlines and meetings dictating the order of things. Geoff and I will have a work meeting early in the day to ensure we are both on the same page re. our short-term and long-term plans. We look after separate areas of the business, he’s more product development and logistics, and I’m more marketing but there are several areas that overlap of course. For example, we are working on upgrading our website at the moment which we both want input into along with our creative agency. The day’s plan has to be fairly fluid, as things come in all the time which need immediate action. I have to be both reactive and proactive in how I prioritise my day.

Do you plan meetings or are they a waste of time?

Not a waste of time at all, meetings are essential to the successful running of just about any business I think and very important to us. Meetings with current customers and potential customers. Also, as our business model is based around outsourcing most of what we do, we have our team scattered across the country and even across the world.

We have team members in PR, e-commerce, distribution, bottling and canning, the list goes on, all of whom are important members of our business. Regular meetings help to build relationships with them so we can pre-empt any potential issues and listen to their expertise and ideas when forward planning.

Do you have a working lunch or is it good to take a break?

I always like to take a break. Working from home means that I only have to walk upstairs to get to my office, so if I don’t go out for a walk or to the gym at lunchtime, I could quite easily spend days not leaving the house at all. It has been known, and I can honestly say it’s not good for the body or mind (I’m usually too tired at the end of the day). Sometimes my partner/husband and I will enjoy a homemade soup and a sandwich together and not talk about work at all, or at least try!

When does your working day finish?

I think for any entrepreneur it can be very hard to really finish the working day. I will usually close my office around 6 pm, but this depends on workload and deadlines. Our children are grown up and have left home, so we don’t have any commitments or pressures there. However, even when I’m physically off my laptop and phone my head will still be buzzing with company activity and of course, social media never sleeps!

How do you prepare for the next day’s work?

I have a list running on paper (can’t give up paper and a pen) which gets continually amended as things are added, changed or deleted.

What’s your favourite piece of technology?

Zoom, Teams; any of those video conferencing platforms that allow us to connect far and wide. We live in beautiful South Devon, the inspiration for our alcohol-free spirit, both product and brand; the online meeting has meant we can live here, but still stay connected with the team and customers who are spread all over the country and around the world.

How do you switch off?

I may walk along our beautiful coast in and around Torbay where we live, and take in all that beauty and inspiration. I love it summer or winter, rain or shine, it’s always inspiring and invigorating!

I also love to switch off by watching TV – enjoy a good true-crime series – something absorbing and far removed from my own life. A current favourite TV programme is Gogglebox – so many laughs and truths, love it!

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

My wise old dad would always want me to see the other side of any situation or argument. He would often say “do you see why that person is reacting in that way or thinks like that?” He taught me the importance of empathy –understanding and relating to how other people feel.

This is really important in business, I think. From listening to what customers are saying and respecting their opinions, to understanding where partners and team members ‘are coming from’ when they have a certain stance on things. This really encourages more fruitful relationships I think and improves the chances of future success.