Is there such a thing as true work life balance? There is much said about achieving things in perfect harmony but especially when setting up a business there are so many questions that need answering.
Work life balance can mean different things to different people as we all have individual circumstances the main question surely must be how many hours do you need to work to be successful?
Francois Badenhorst attempts to redress the balance.
“I promise you,”
“your competition isn’t beating you because they are working more hours than you. It’s because they are working smarter.”
After a debate in the BusinessZone newsroom, we launched a Twitter poll asking our readers a simple question: How many hours do you believe an entrepreneur should work when building a business?
The response, overwhelmingly, was ‘as many as it takes’; just over a third said 60 hours plus per week and only 13% said a normal working week of 40 or fewer hours. Admittedly, a Twitter poll isn’t exactly scientific – but the question clearly resonated. Are long hours an inevitable part of building a business? And at what cost does success come?
The British government’s working time directive states that you can’t work more than 48-hours on average, averaged over 17 weeks. There are numerous exceptions to this, of course, most relevant to entrepreneurs is: “where working time is not measured and you’re in control, eg. you’re a managing executive with control over your decisions.”
Control over your decisions is a key point here. The problem of working hours in startups is actually a dual one. For funded startups, with VCs that have a vested interest in a lot getting done in as little time as possible, the pressure to work long hours can be overwhelming.
But clearly the problem of startup working hours is more complex than that. Many founders work herculean hours without being compelled by an investor.
The success I have achieved has led me to be in a position to do what I want and provide a great life for my children and partner.
Mark Pearson, the founder of MyVoucherCodes, for instance, put in the graft on his own accord. “I didn’t have investors, I self-funded my business with minimal investment. The pressure was from myself and my ambition, when you begin to see something working and becoming successful it can be like a drug, you want to keep doing it and see how far you can push and how much you can achieve.”
“When I first started my business, and for the first few years, I was working very long hours, as I’m always a big believer in working harder and smarter than your competition if you want to win,” Pearson explains.