Last week, I read an article about a CEO who recently got divorced, which means he now leaves the office every other week at 3PM to be with his kids. He describes the divorce as a blessing in disguise, however, as he'd found it quite challenging to relinquish the reins, and occasionally leaving the office early now gives him a way to start balancing his work and personal life.
This article made me wonder about that balance. Actually, a question I repeatedly get from future entrepreneurs is about how I, with kids, family, and a house, found the time to start my own company. "Don't you work insane hours?" I am often asked.
My answer is that of course starting your own company requires a significant time investment, but whether you think it is a lot of hours or not really depends on your point of reference. Are you comparing it to a part-time job or a regular job with normal working hours? Well then, yes, you would probably have to work more than that. On the other hand, do you compare it to a career position, for instance within management, in a large company? The hours are likely relatively comparable.
If you are considering becoming an entrepreneur, you really should not be intimidated by the fear of long working days. You are working with something that you are (hopefully) really passionate about. It is your "baby". That in itself makes a big difference. Also, remember that, at least in some fields such as technology, it is more flexible than your typical corporate career position. Usually, as an entrepreneur, you can manage your day as you like; what you do when and where. For me, it helps reducing the level of stress at home. For example, if we are running a little late in the morning, or I need to see the doctor with one of my kids, it does not cause any major problems because I don't normally have to be at work at a specific time (unless of course I have a meeting, travel, or similar). The work that I will miss in those hours is work that I can just do at a different time.
The entrepreneurial life that I have chosen also means that I spend some of my time at different networking events. In my book, that also counts as work. It must be taken seriously and is something I do to expand my skills and my network, and I look at it as mandatory personal and professional development. As an entrepreneur, it is extremely important to meet people from both small and large companies who can provide input on, for example, development, go-to-market strategy, and finance. You simply need inspiration and help from other people than the very few colleagues you might have around you in the beginning of your startup adventure. Besides, it also helps you overcome another challenge that may arise, which is that life as an entrepreneur can be quite lonely. I have not personally struggled much with this because I founded Queue-it with two co-founders, but if you are all by yourself, it will certainly be an issue to consider.
Once you are an entrepreneur, I think you will look at your day in a completely different way. Your working hours/day blend very much with your spare time, but you are also the boss and get to choose when and where you work. You work with something that you are really passionate about and counting the actual work hours are less important to you. I am often asked how many hours I work, but honestly I do not know.
If you want to read a couple of my tips to future entrepreneurs have a look at my blog posts "Seven Tips for Older Entrepreneurs-To-Be", "To All Young Entrepreneurs" or "Five Tips for Future Female Tech Entrepreneurs".