You don’t need to sacrifice your life, overwork, not sleep and suffer to build a successful startup. I bootstrapped a successful company working 6-7 hours a day, not stressing, and having lots of fun.

  • If there’s one thing I wish I could impart on the average TechCrunch/HN/whatever reader, it’s the point above.

    I’m friends with an (older) serial entrepreneur who was successfully sold four companies in a row. FOUR. In a row. He has never worked more than 40 hours per work, and never stays in the office past 5:30.

    You own your company (or job). Don’t let it own you.

    • The business type doesn’t matter, it’s the approach that counts. Per my comment below, as long as you organize yourself to work smart (vs needlessly long), you can achieve more in less time. It’s about maturity in work style and discipline. Eg if you consolidate hard work into 6 hours of your day, vs scattered around 12 hours of procrastinating+work.

  • It depends on how technically demanding the startup is. Building simple website vs. building and maintaining complicated app are obviously going to take very different amounts of time. Your situation does not apply to everyone.

    Try building a site like Facebook with one person only working 6-7 hours a day and see how far that gets you. It took team of Harvard programmers months of working around the clock to build the initial Facebook.

    • Who said I’m only one? I have a team of ten, 3 of whom are developers. Of course I can’t compare my startup to Facebook, but we are making over 1M a year in revenue. Oh, and unless something really urgent or catastrophic is going on, I send everyone home at 6. I found this keeps everyone very motivated.

      The OP

      • I forgot to say, my business has its complexities, and we deal with some demanding clients, so I would like if I said I don’t have a stressful day every now and then, but I never, ever, slept in the office, worked on a weekend (or had my staff do it), lost or gained weight because of my job, or had day of rage, as many founders claim in many comments in this site.

      • I’m the guy you’re replying to. Many of the people here, including myself are either founders who are doing it on their own or with one or two other people.

        That’s why we have to work so much, because we don’t have team of 10 people, including 3 developers to help us build and maintain our sites/products.

        Try to see outside of your own situation; that might help you understand why other people have to work so much.

        • I started alone, working a part time job for 4 hours, and working the remaining 4 on my own company. I’m non technical, so I had a really ugly looking website, and was using third party b2b services for everything.

          As soon as I could I resigned, and hired my first employee, a part time developer. I’ve been growing ever since, and adding more people to the team. And in all this time, I’ve never worked more than 8 hours a day.

          I’m not saying other people should do the same, all I’m saying is that I don’t believe stressing out will either make you more successful, or prove you are more dedicated. It seems like there’s a culture of sacrifice, on which everyone is competing to see who is more busy or more burn out. In my experience, chilling down, and maybe going a little bit slower, can pay off as well. It has for me. In my opinion, unless you are the President (and even if you were), a surgeon, or maybe a reporter, there’s nothing so urgent that can’t wait until tomorrow.

          • Some businesses don’t have the liberty to grow slowly as yours did. Sometimes, if your website, app, etc. is not ready for prime time then you’re screwed because those users will not come back. When Instagram launched, they go 22,000 downloads on the first day.

            Now, imagine if their app wasn’t ready for prime time and those users trashed them, which would have lowered their ranking in the app store. That would have made it so that they could never become popular because all those negative ratings would lower their rankings and make people less likely to download their app.

            I’m not saying that every company will get 22,000 users on the first day, but my whole point is that some companies have to be nearly flawless in order for them to become successful. Sometimes the Lean Startup approach makes people believe that they can get away with avoiding hard work.

            Lean startup is only meant to gauge interest in startup ideas; after interest has been established, then people need to put in the hard work necessary to make a successful company.

            • I totally agree. Some kind of businesses require a different approach. Although, to be quite honest, even though they got an amazing exit, I don’t respect Instagram that much. They made an amazing consumer app, with no business model whatsoever, it worked well for them in the long run, but that generally isn’t the case for that kind of startups.

              However, in spite of the opportunity to basher Instagram a little, I can understand a Lean approach may not be ideal for every kind of company, and your example reflects that perfectly, and I understand why you may need to work a lot more than the amount of time I do.

              Still, what I am trying to say is that I see a lot of people bragging about how much they work, and about the terrible sacrifices they are making. Of course, it’s true, starting a company requires you to give up some security, and often free time, but it doesn’t mean you have to abandon your whole life, destroy your body, kill off any relationships, and hit yourself with a whip. And if you do, at least know it’s not a reason to brag. That’s all I’m saying.

            • Are we forgetting history? How badly has Twitter fallen down over the years? 100 times? 200?

              Wow, lots of question marks.

      • Is your company in some niche space where you have some special insight into that prevents some johnny come lately 20yr old coder from going head to head against you?

        I know of a few companies like that that are low stress/high income but most people aren’t in the privileged position of having such domain knowledge.

        • That 20 year-old still needs to build traction and get someone to buy his software. It doesn’t matter how good is code is, he still has a long, long road ahead in an established market.

          • Right. I think our biggest strength is our marketing, which we have been building since day one, and is what has allowed us to position ourselves quite well in our niche. My company is basically a marketplace, so the entry barrier for Johnny is a little higher than just being a good coder. Besides, it’s not a winner takes all space, so he’s welcome to join it.

  • OP: Thank you. Your statement is one of the the unmentioned rules I often want to add when describing my startup to people. I’ve launched solo, but looking for a cofounder-level partner. My startup is in an increasingly packed space, yet I know we can do what we need to do to kick ass and rise to the top within sane working hours. Working smart/with focus is all that’s required.

  • To me the only justification for working longer hours is when working on tasks, etc. that are not yet justifiable to hire someone. We usually push ourselves 30% extra (the founders) to fill in skills gaps – when the workload reaches something close to 60-70% of an FTE – then it’s time to hire. Until then hiring is too risky a proposition – this is the single biggest contributor to the extra hours founders work IMHO.

  • I’m another entrepreneur who doesn’t believe in the stressed out 12 hour days and weekends. I’ve done that for other people and it’s entirely unrewarding, so why would I want people to do that for me?

    I think the biggest reasons this happens are 1) Investors who push for unrealistic timelines 2) Greedy founders who only think about $1B exits (see #1) …

    If your goals are more modest, and/or you bootstrap, you can slow your pace and enjoy the ride.

    • Reaching for a $1bn exit is not at all greedy. What do you mean by that? So being ambitious and setting the bar high for yourself is now being called greedy? Please. If you have little to modest ambitions, that’s fine but don’t call people who have set higher standards and goals for themselves names like greedy. Smh.

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