The Simple Thing That Can Earn, or Lose, the Respect of Others

Rediscover the lost art of punctuality and watch your life improve.

learn more about Adam Toren

By Adam Toren

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

There is one small trick that only takes five minutes, but it can change your entire life as an entrepreneur. It's a very simple concept but one that will require discipline, dedication and accountability to yourself and others if you want to make the most of it.

How can five minutes change your life? By showing up to every commitment you have five minutes early. That's it.

There is an epidemic of time wasters in life and as an entrepreneur you can't afford the overhead of tardiness in others or from yourself. Being on time is more than just a habit: it's a character trait. People who are habitually late are demonstrating a variety of qualities that don't work well in entrepreneurship.

Related: What Your Flaky Behavior Is Really Telling People

How you do one thing is how you do everything and that's why tardiness is such an issue in my eyes. If you're late, you're showing me that you possess one or more of the following undesirable habits or qualities.

1. You're inconsiderate.

Time is valuable and my time is incredibly valuable to me. If you show up late you're essentially saying you don't care if our meeting runs late and cuts into my next meeting or my time with my family. That's frankly unacceptable and shows me you aren't a thoughtful person or considerate of the ripple effect your tardiness has on the rest of my day.

2. You're flaky.

If you're always running late you look flaky. You have an overbooked calendar or inability to hold yourself to your own schedule and manage your life.

3. You're disorganized.

If you're running late because of a lack of planning, losing track of time or another meeting running late, you're showing me you aren't organized enough to manage your time, so I'm not sure I want you to manage any of my business.

4. You're not a leader.

Being late because of your last meeting running behind shows me you don't know how to hold others accountable for their time wasting. Leadership requires accountability to yourself and holding others accountable. If your meeting is set to end at a certain time, make sure you stand up and end it on time.

Related: Adopt This Mindset and Never Be Late Again

5. You're egotistical.

It might sound like I'm being egotistical taking such a firm stance on tardiness, but I've found throughout my career that people who are habitually late are often late because they have an egotistical attitude that goes beyond being inconsiderate. They see being late as a power move. Basically, their mindset is, "I'm a pretty big deal and important enough that you can wait." This is unattractive in a potential business relationship and I've found relationships don't go well with these types of people.

I live by a rule that you may want to adopt: if you aren't five minutes early, you're already late. The people I've found in my personal life and in my entrepreneurial journey who are really worth my time are on time and on deadline -- that's made my life much better. I want to be that kind of person, too, and show up to my commitments, be they meetings or project deadlines.

The great thing about being an incredibly punctual person is that it also provides you with the benefit of the doubt for the rare occasions where acts of god or truly extenuating circumstances come into play. If we've been doing business together for years and you've been a habitually on-time and on-deadline person, then for the rare times you need an extension or are running 10 minutes late, I'm happy to wait because I know it's out of character for you.

Show yourself and others that you have the qualities of a leader and an entrepreneur and start showing up five minutes early, or as you'll call it from here on out, "on time," to everything from now on. It's a great sign of respect, thoughtfulness and organization that the right people will notice and appreciate in you.

Related: The 6 Worst Opening Moves for Starting a Business Relationship

Adam Toren

Serial entrepreneur, mentor, advisor and co-founder of

Adam Toren is a serial entrepreneur, mentor, investor and co-founder of He is co-author, with his brother Matthew, of Kidpreneurs and Small Business, BIG Vision: Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market from Self-Made Entrepreneurs Who Did it Right (Wiley). He's based in Phoenix, Ariz.

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