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Why Entrepreneurs Shouldn’t Be Working Every Waking Hour

Businesswoman at the office working late.Businesswoman at the office working late.
Woman working overtime at the office looking at papers.Portra Images Getty Images

The Entrepreneur Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in America’s startup scene contribute answers to timely questions about entrepreneurship and careers. Today’s answer to the question, “What are some of the biggest misconceptions about startup life?” is written by Kelly Gibbons, founder and managing partner of Main & Rose.

It seems that over the past few years, the life of startups has risen to a level of perceived glamor that rivals the buzz around famous musicians and artists. This is only exacerbated by shows like Silicon Valley and Shark Tank, which paint the lifestyle to be not only constantly fast-paced, but also filled with celebrity encounters and millions of dollars.

As an entrepreneur, I can’t help but laugh at these shows. So much of what they portray as “normal” startup life is anything but. Here are my three favorite stereotypes about working in a startup, and why they’re absolutely not true:

There’s no structure

This is absolutely not true—at least not at any startup that has a serious desire to survive the year. While things are definitely more hectic than at a traditional organization, they aren’t supposed to be chaotic. A great startup founding team knows the importance of starting with a plan, and staying organized throughout the life of the business.

You can travel whenever you want to

Ah, wouldn’t we all love to be digital nomads? Yes, as an entrepreneur who runs a virtual office, I can travel when I have the time. But I tend not to unless it’s a paid vacation.

Why don’t I? For one, I’m traveling quite enough just for business. As the founder and managing partner of a personal branding firm, I spend a considerable amount of time visiting potential clients and investors. Once I get home, I want to appreciate being there. I’ve also been able to build up quite a support community around me, and I wouldn’t trade that for the world—certainly not for unreliable beach Wi-Fi when there’s a proposal due the next day.

 

You have to work every waking hour

This is a tougher one, because it’s not that uncommon for people to feel this way. It seems that entrepreneurs—especially ones who are new—feel that there’s some universal rule that if you aren’t working on your startup constantly, you don’t really care.

Honestly, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

If you want your startup to survive, that means you have to as well. Take care of your physical and mental health—that means spending time with your family, working out, and saying no to the client who asks you for deliverables on the weekend. It’s really okay.

We’re conditioned from the very first day of school, all the way through being an employee (which most of us are before founding a business), to believe that there will always be someone superior to us determining how we spend our day. But the most beautiful thing about being an entrepreneur is that you dictate your own schedule. So take control of your life. You’re the boss; act like it.

If you’re considering working for a startup, founding one, or are supporting an entrepreneur, do your research. Make sure you really understand what you’re getting yourself into. That also means learning what you’re not signing up for—like 14-hour days. The whole attraction of startup life is taking back control, whether you’re the owner or an employee on a small team. Work how you want to work, and build a better environment for future employees in doing so.