Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary is remembered for saying, “If you want to get rich, start working 25 hours a day, 7 days a week.” He’s not wrong in thinking that. Unless you give 110% of yourself every single day, your business won’t stand a chance. It is not only a full time job, it is literally your life. One survey from New York Enterprise Report found that small business owners work twice as much as regular employees. It also found that 33% of small business owners reported working more than 50 hours per week, and 25% said they work more than 60 hours a week.
Any small business owner will be able to relate to the fact that a regular 9-5pm schedule is not what owning your own business is about. Especially in the beginning when you are starting from the ground up. The fantasy of working your own hours, setting your own work schedule basically goes out the window the minute you step into the realm of entrepreneurship. You are the captain of your ship and you’re going to do everything you can to make sure it doesn’t sink. And if you are really starting from the ground up and have a small team, than in most cases you are shorthanded and it is literally all hands on deck. It can become frustrating, nerve wrecking and at times overwhelming. “When you’re an entrepreneur, the hours you work are a meaningless measure,” said Christine Baker, co-founder and director of Strategic Nudge. “You work until you achieve what you need – whether that’s your first product launch, first customer sale, first year of $100,000 turnover or whatever. If that takes 20 or 70 hours a week, so be it.”
So it’s important to remember a few things in the initial stage of this wonderful, daunting journey. From the numbers above, it is clear that you are not alone if you feel overwhelmed by the time spent on your new venture. These extra hours you are putting in; is something shared among other entrepreneur’s and startup owners who are grappling with trying to maintain work life balance.
Is it sustainable and will it take a toll on your physical and mental health? Research says that consistently working long hours can in fact decrease productivity and your physical and mental health. Popular opinion may suggest that you try and put in 60+ hours a week but science disputes this. Everyone has their own limits and potential to go long runs without taking a break. It’s important to monitor your physical and mental wellbeing, rather than trying to copy what someone else is doing or advising. The important thing is to remember that unless you take a break, recharge and reset yourself; you will not be bringing your best to the table day in and day out.
A few tips on how to keep yourself on your toes and reset when the long hours feel overwhelming:
- Rest and regroup – This is one of the hardest things for business owners to do. But your mental state of mind will not be able to focus for endless hours on the same set of problems and needs to reset. Walk away, call a friend or watch a movie. Do something to help you turn your attention away for awhile, when you return to your work you will be able to focus better.
- Sleep – Get your 8-10 hours in. Sleep is one of the things that will take a hit when you start your business. You are eating, breathing and thinking constantly how to scale up but unless you recharge physically you will not be able to go the extra mile.
- Health is one of your assets – Your health, now being the Founder and CEO of your new venture, is just as important as one of your company assets. Without it, your company will not survive. Take time to make that annual checkup or see that doctor when your health is not 100%.
- Make time for people – Make time to connect with your loved ones and friends. It cannot be all work and no play. You need to make sure you are not forgetting about the support system that got you to this point in your life; they are an incredibly important part of your journey. Make time for them.
- Don’t let your business take over – My last piece of advice: do not let yourself be overtaken with your business in such a way that it becomes everything your life is about. Make a schedule, chalk out time for your short term and long term objectives and create a task list to achieve them. In the end, it is a job, a form of employment, a source of income and you need to learn to turn it off when it needs to be turned off and get back in the game when it is required.
In the end; you are here because you believed in a concept, a product and most importantly in yourself. You are going to get up each morning with the drive to do better, to create something people will buy and remember. That energy is what drives us to work more than 60 hours a week, not take breaks and keep charging forward. That is not a bad thing, as long as we can sustain it and create a system where we give ourselves opportunities to reset.
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