What is the ideal number of hours to work a week?

As a new entrepreneur I am finding that I can spend 24/7 on my business. I know time away is good but every startup also has limited resources and a limited runway. What is the idea amount of time to spend working on your business as opposed to other parts of your life each week?

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11

Dear Jack

The ideal length of time to work on your business is whatever time it takes.

According to Wikipedia and other dictionaries “Passion (from the Greek verb πασχω meaning to suffer) is a very strong feeling about a person or thing. Passion is an intense emotion, a compelling enthusiasm or desire for something.”

I became a C level executive in 2000, and in 2006 I left to start up my own 3 businesses (OK started 1 and then 1 thing led to another!). I can tell you I have never in my life worked longer hours ever since 2000. Despite the very lucrative package I was on, I earned less per hour of work than when I was a salesman in 1988! This has continued on, and now with 3 businesses and a few non-exec interests, plus other hobby work such as this site, I am still at it on a Sunday afternoon :-)

As a leader in a business you will set the pace. If you are not passionate and work the hours needed to make the business a success, then you cannot expect the staffers to be passionate about your business. I was the first in the office (usually around 7 am) and I was the last to leave (more often than not about 20:00). I was doing reports, appraisals, preparation, etc. over the weekend, and often had conference calls at all hours of the night since I had a team spread across the globe. Yes it was 24/7. One day I decided if I am going to do 24/7 for other people, why not do it for myself without all the corporate BS that goes with it.

Here we are 2016 and nothing has changed. I still do what I love to do. I still do 24/7. I still do not earn per hour as much as when I was a carefree salesman! Aside from my family, my work is my life. The day I do not feel passionate about my business, would be the day that I put the business for sale.

Why do I do it? Because I am passionate about what I do. I do not have shareholders to answer to, and best of all, I do not have to put up with a whole lot of corporate politics and nonsense.

This is not a criticism of you but a sincere advice. If you do not feel the “passion” for your business, I recommend you stop and look for something that you do feel passionate about. If you are doing this just to make money, then you will always be counting the hours and probably resent the time you spend at your work.

Time Management advice is great for training courses, conferences, and Middle Managers, but for business owners and board members it is a mere theoretical idealism.

I agree with Ali, and his take. Basically make something you love, an action such as teaching or coaching or strategizing...make work revolve around the things you love most in life. Easier said than done, but you have at least a direction to go towards and you work at it day by day, in little steps. If you truly love something, time has no meaning and everyday is about the work that you love in which your family and life benefits somehow. Maybe its writing or creative thinking as a business. Whatever it is, don't think of work as just work, but as integral into your life, when you care about the work, your life is shaped but how much you care for truly important things..that's to keep in mind

I am with you on this Ali. Good response.

8

For me it depends on the timing of your adventure (or venture). I'm at a different stage of my career having given 24/7 to a very successful job so it depends on your drivers and what you personally want to get from what you do. My advice is simple - be flexible and kind to yourself. I give some clients almost 24-hour access to me because of the work we are doing but I would not do that for many. Sometimes I think and work better in the evening and carry on or even start again but other days I finish earlier because I can. For me there is not a straight forward answer and everyone is right when they talk about themselves but it's down to you to discover your own life priorities and these will change frequently which is why being flexible is critical. If anyone talks about work/life balance, I have to walk away because to me you have a life and work is part of it as are the other elements you mentioned. Sometimes the work piece will occupy more but it isn’t a separate entity.

7

I would say as many hours that are REASONABLE for the business you are conducting, particularly if it is international and there are time-difference to be taken in to consideration.
For example, I had to work a 42 hour week as basic since I was working in international commodities, and dealing with operations both New York and further West to the mid-states (GMT-6) ; at the same time dealing with the Far East which could be GMT +7. so there was only a 2 hour time frame which I could speak to the two continents at once, so to speak.

On a small front, as you say Jack, it can move in to 24 hours a day if you are a very small business, particularly if you work at home, where your office is where you live. It is very easy to allow the business to take over your life. To that end I would say at the very most 9 hours.

Certainly in the initial stages you are going to need a lot of time, particularly with reference to setting up and marketing the business/company, which is not only expensive but time consuming.

Sleep deprivation and not getting socially involved can have serious consequences, and under a lot of pressure can cause issues like epilepsy, migiraines and at the worst end, a full nervous break-down.

6

Hi Jack,
Whilst I agree with the other answers, I would like to add that I believe personal development is an essential part of running a business which is often overlooked in favour of activities which more obviously contribute to the bottom line. Spending time working on your personal goals - making an emotional connection with what you want to achieve from your business can help to inspire and encourage you on days which might not go so smoothly. In my view, success requires the right mindset as well as skill set!

"Spending time working on your personal goals", It's definitely an important point. If we get lost working so hard, everything is failed effort down the road. Just my point, I agree with you on this personal balance. And actually days ago I was hardly reminded about it. Love for you Elaine.

6

I totally agree with a part of what everyone has stated. 24/7 seems to be what is needed at times, but to remain efficient, I suggest taking time off in order to refresh yourself, mentally as well as spiritually. Spend time with family and friends. I am not saying to take an entire day off, just the majority of one day where you can rest. Do something you enjoy doing and remember that life is short! We all want our businesses to grow, but what does it profit if you die tomorrow. Make the very most of every day you are given!

Even the Creator rested on the seventh day aa reminder to all.

Jack, I liked the reminder of our Creator amazing work. Love it. Hugs.

6

Hi Jack,
This is an interesting question and there are probably lots of different answers. i think it depends on your situation and what you hope to accomplish. I am a recruiter that is dedicated to software sales professionals. Most days I start around 8am and work until 8pm or 9pm. Saturdays are often 3- 6 hours of work. My company is about a year old and I am determined to grow my business. I am a big believer the harder I work the luckier I get. It is also something I am passionate about which makes a big difference to me.

6

Hi Jack,
It's a great question, however it's not the hours of the day that counts, it's what you can within the hour of each day.
It's all of question of balance and economics, with the most precious thing you have.
Your time.
You can't get it back and you can't go to the bank to get some extra time.
As they say if you don't take a lunch break you can work 25 hrs each day. (well not so.)

Now that I have your attention, there are a number of things you really should consider.
1) Balance is important, it reduces stress, and keeps you grounded.
2) Do only the most important things first. (and not the urgent). you will be surprised how many "urgent" things can actually wait.
3) Divide you work into bite size projects. within a time frame, and stick to it if possible. you can always put something down and pick it up later.
4) Set goals.
5) Work smarter rather than harder.
Use technology and automation where possible.
6) If you take work home only take enough for no more than 2 hrs worth, or consider getting into the office 1 hr earlier. (even if it's a home office.)
7) Try to do no more that 10 hrs work each day.
8) Depending on your work, plan to work only 1/2 day Saturdays and 0 Zero work on Sundays.

Jack, it's not that you can't work longer it's more a question of burnout and fatigue, which can lead to poor decision making and ill health.
If that happens you will be forced to take the time off to recoup,
so in fact this becomes a false economy and a un-productive method.
rgds,
George.

5

LOL as I always say, "a day to an Entrepreneur is 36 hours". Running a Business takes a LOT of work. You can't perceive it from the perspective of being an "employee". An employee comes into work, does their job and goes home after 8 hours. Keep in mind that a lot of times somebody comes and punches in behind you to pick up where you left off, which means that job is being tended to from 7am-11pm.... or 24 hours non stop if there's a 3rd shift worker.

One thing with running your own Business is you have to realize that everything you're trying to take on and do yourself is a full time position in other established Businesses. Which means they have somebody tending to each of those things exclusively all day long. It's easy for you to take on 7-10 full time positions all by yourself and can be easily spread too thin. Just 3 responsibilities in your job takes up the whole 24 hour day with no sleep or breaks.

So the thing you need to focus on is pricing your services and or products to cover the costs of those employees so you can afford to hire them. A lot of times new Businesses start off by charging less than everyone else in town and trying to work their way up to more expensive prices..... but once again..... that's an "employee" outlook on things because you're use to getting a new job starting at the bottom of the pay scale and getting raises as you go. If you think about it, an electronics retailer doesn't lower the prices of their computers and t.v.s whenever they hire somebody and raise the prices as they get more experience..... Their prices stay consistent, you need to think that way about your own Business as well. If the things you provide have a consistent value in the economy, STICK TO THAT VALUE!!!! there's a REASON the "established" Businesses charge as much as they charge, n that's so they can pay all their employees. Don't run yourself into the dirt trying to do EVERYTHING on your own, there just isn't enough time for you to do "everything" because when you become focused on tackling one thing everything else is neglected.... when they should be tended to at the same time.

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