An excerpt from chapter 3 of

START, LOVE, REPEAT

How to Stay in Love with Your Entrepreneur in a Crazy Start-up World

© 2017 by Dorcas Cheng-Tozun

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Let’s get to the bad news right away: it is normal and expected for entrepreneurs to work ridiculously long hours.

In one UK survey, entrepreneurs reported working 63 percent longer each week than the average worker.[i] In the US, more than 40 percent of founders surveyed said that they are on the clock for fifty or more hours a week.[ii]  Many entrepreneurs I know regularly work up to and even beyond eighty hours a week.

The constant connectivity enabled by smartphones, tablets, and laptops sure isn’t helping. A recent study by the American Psychological Association’s Center for Organizational Excellence found that more than 50 percent of working adults check their email before and after work, on weekends, and even when they’re home sick. If your entrepreneur is male, the tendency to log in after hours is even greater.[iii] One reason could be the telepressure—or, “the urge to respond immediately to work-related messages, no matter when they come”—that many American professionals experience today.[iv] Entrepreneurs, whose companies are their babies and whose homes are often their offices, live with telepressure in spades.

When you look more closely, it’s easy to see how the hours add up. Entrepreneurs officially work at least fifty hours a week, probably more. Then they go home, laptops in one hand and smartphones in the other, and keep working. They’re making phone calls, responding to emails, strategizing in their free time. And then there’s the travel.

Studies haven’t been done on how much entrepreneurs travel, but almost every entrepreneur I know has to travel. As our world becomes smaller, this will probably become more and more commonplace. Investors may be scattered around the globe. Suppliers will be in one corner of the planet, distributors in another. IT support could be outsourced to one country and accounting to another. Customers might be spread across six continents. In 2016 alone, Americans logged 457.4 million person-trips for business.[v] Ned estimates that he’s flown 1.5 million miles for the business over the past ten years, which, in some circles, is considered pretty run-of-the-mill. Perhaps your mate has traveled just as much, if not more, for his or her company.

It’s no wonder, then, that venture capitalists have been accused of having an age bias when selecting their investees. Young, single entrepreneurs, unencumbered with any other responsibilities, are the ideal workhorses. Michael Moritz, a venture capitalist with Sequoia Capital, one of the most prestigious investment firms in the world, has famously said that he’s “an incredibly enthusiastic fan of very talented twentysomethings starting companies.” Why? “They have great passion. They don’t have distractions like families and children and other things that get in the way.”[vi]

While few in the investment community would dare say it so baldly, the vast majority retain sky-high expectations of an entrepreneur’s commitment, regardless of personal circumstances. Married or not, with kids or not: the company founder who wants to be taken seriously must prioritize the business—heart, soul, body, and mind.

 

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[i]. Jack Torrance, “Entrepreneurs Work 63% Longer than Average Workers,” RealBusiness, August 13, 2013, accessed January 12, 2015, http://realbusiness.co.uk/article/22838-entrepreneurs-work-63-longer-than-average-workers.

[ii]. Leadem, “More than Half of Founders Say They Never ‘Switch Off.’”

[iii]. “Americans Stay Connected to Work on Weekends, Vacation and Even When Out Sick,” American Psychological Association, September 4, 2013, accessed November 19, 2015, http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2013/09/connected-work.aspx.

[iv]. Mandy Oaklander, “Answering Emails After Work Is Bad for Your Health,” TIME, November 6, 2014, accessed November 14, 2014, http://time.com/3560203/stress-work-email/.

[v]. “U.S. Travel Answer Sheet (2016),” U.S. Travel Association, accessed May 22, 2017, https://www.ustravel.org/answersheet.

[vi]. Noam Scheiber, “The Brutal Ageism of Tech,” New Republic, March 23, 2014, accessed February 5, 2017, https://newrepublic.com/article/117088/silicons-valleys-brutal-ageism.

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© 2019 by Dorcas Cheng-Tozun