The Unpopular Secret of Self-Made Millionaires

Self-made millionaires: whether you love their type or hate them, there is no contest to the fact that they are admirable, so much so, that most people have vied for their work ethic for eons. From self-discipline and decisiveness to the ability to make decisions in a fix while eliminating risks, there is definitely a lot to learn from them.

So here is the one unpopular secret of self-made millionaires that doesn’t often make it to the shiny magazine covers and tell-all newspaper articles— the answer to the age-old, million dollar question: “How many hours do entrepreneurs work?”

Schedules of Entrepreneurs

The first and most essential thing to remember is that the lives of entrepreneurs are very flexible. This doesn’t mean that they don’t have schedules and deadlines. In fact, being an entrepreneur requires discipline, dedication, and a whole lot more time than most people can spare.

The difference between a successful entrepreneur and regular company employees is that the work of the former requires endless problem-solving. Even in what is regarded as “off-hours”, they have to mull over important business decisions, take calls, crunch numbers, hold impromptu meetings, and tend to emergencies at odd hours. Essentially, the workday never really ends in the typical fashion of 9-5 jobs.

So how many hours do entrepreneurs work?

Right off the bat, there is no universal answer to this question. Ask any business person and they’ll tell you that straight to your face, and it would be the cold, hard truth. The reason why there is no definitive magic number of hours that will guarantee success is because of the sheer difference in types of entrepreneurs.

For example, a person who is aiming to set up a small-scale business, like a local manufacturing unit or a localized internet-based service will have a smaller workload to take care of than somebody trying to set up a multi-million-dollar business. Additionally, someone investing and trying to expand and scale their business into something bigger will have an entirely different kind of expectation at work.

The same logic applies to entrepreneurs at different stages of their business plan. When starting out as a beginner trying to set up a stable company, an entrepreneur will need to multitask and handle a huge variety of tasks on a daily basis, which often means that the concept of fixed work hours barely exists. On the other hand, business people who are seeking to grow or are already established in the industry, generally have a lighter workload since tasks are delegated to trained teams and there is an established procedural workflow in place already.

That said, there are pretty accurate estimates and ballpark figures as to how many hours a typical entrepreneur works. The leading global business magazine Forbes, in an article titled ‘Do Entrepreneurs Really Work 60 Hours A Week?’ suggests varied work hours for entrepreneurs. In the first year of setting up a business, an entrepreneur can expect to work anywhere up to 100 hours per week. With the passage of time and growth of a start-up, the hours tend to reduce to about 80 hours weekly, until it becomes a proper establishment, which can mean working anywhere between 8 to 10 hours daily. 

As you can very well see, ultimately, it all boils down to the workload and personal choices of individual people. Taking cues from real life examples of successful entrepreneurs, there are reports that legendary businessman Grant Cordone believes that to become a millionaire, one must put in no less than 95 hours per week, which is essentially 14 hours a day. On the other hand, the founder of Crew and Unsplash, Mikael Cho doesn’t like the very concept of set working hours at his companies. Yet others like Christine Baker champion moderation by saying that efficiency and productivity are more important parameters of success than the hours clocked in.  

As is clear by now, a workaholic approach can make for a very one-dimensional life. Further, it can also border on unhealthy, since the official recommendations of many scientific studies suggest that the typical workdays for professionals should be no longer than 8 hours and the time spent by a person at work per week should be well within 60 hours. Any more than that and the average person would be at significantly higher risk for chronic health issues like cardiovascular disease, stress, fatigue, burnout, and even depression.

Balancing work and personal life

By now, you must be wondering how entrepreneurs strike the delicate balance between their work, and personal and social lives. The reality is that the lines between the three are very blurred, to say the least. For entrepreneurs, the life of working is something that brings them joy and adds meaning to their lives. Further, their job allows them to socialize within their own circles of like-minded people and make important contacts in the process. Truthfully speaking, no other profession in the world could have given rise to quotes like: “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.”

However, all this doesn’t mean that entrepreneurs are total recluses either. The ability to break away from the needs and calling of their work is something that requires restraint and discipline in itself. Most people do happen to prioritize and make time for family, friends, and social engagements because, at the end of the day, it is the optimal work-life balance that keeps one stable and prosperous.

Final Thoughts

Being an entrepreneur is hard work and it is not a job for the faint-hearted. More than a job, it is a non-stop hustle— a lifestyle that really doesn’t care for the hours put in, as long as the work gets done. As Shark Tank star and serial investor Daymond John once said about the ultimate secret to success: “Work. Bust your butt. Get up before everybody, go to sleep after everybody, and bust your butt. That’s it.”