Time Management

A 40 Hour Work Week . . . Really?

A 40 Hour Work Week . . . Really?
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The nine to five Job. It’s the hours of the traditional work day, but does your professional day really always start at nine and end at five? If you're an entrepreneur it's impossible!

Around the clock.

The typical work-day for the entrepreneur is undefinable. It never ends. Your brain is always on over-drive. Yes, you may not always be in the office but your mind is forever racing with different thoughts covering a myriad of issues: payroll, rent, new office space, customer retention, hiring, firing and so much more.

I find it funny when my corporate friends who are sitting in their beautiful high rise office buildings in midtown Manhattan say to me that they have an entrepreneurial spirit. Do they genuinely believe they are entrepreneurs while they enjoy their beautiful office space that is being paid  for by their employer? Have they ever had a sleepless night thinking about how to make payroll? 

Related: 5 Lessons for First-Time Entrepreneurs I Learned the Hard Way

The typical corporate work day.

I have friends who work nine to five who describe their day as follows, perhaps you have experienced it for yourself.

9 -- Arrive at the office right on time.

9 to 10 -- Get settled at your desk and have some coffee. Speak with co-workers about their evening activity from the prior night.

10 to 12 -- Do some work, but periodically check your Facebook page for any new friend requests.

12 to 12:30 -- Start preparing for lunch which is coming up in a half hour. That includes looking for online menus or discussing with friends the best place for a restaurant that has a great menu with specials.

12:30 to 1:30 -- Lunch has arrived, let's eat!

1:30 to 2 -- Quick bathroom break followed by a call to a significant other to tell them which restaurant you just tried for the first time.

2 to 4 -- Critical work hours. Maybe an office meeting that starts a few minutes late where the biggest takeaway is the need for another meeting the following day for a follow-up.

4 to 4:30 -- Blood sugar level is a bit low so there's a need for a quick snack or water cooler break to get hydrated.

4:30 to 4:50 -- Last minute conference calls to vendors, clients and strategic partners.

4:50 to 4:59 -- Clean up in order to be ready to walk out the door on-time.

5 -- Work day is complete, time to head home.

Of course, I’m being a fit facetious here but I don’t think it's all that far from the truth. Here’s a shocking business statistic: if you or anybody on your team wastes just one hour per day -- and please understand that I’m also guilty of this -- it equates to six weeks of wasted time per year! Isn't that incredible? That’s a lot of vacation time. My advice: just work hard when you are at work. Of course, we all need some down time to handle personal matters but do so sparingly because you can’t get those hours back.

Related: How to Manage Time With 10 Tips That Work.

Team players have it easy.

Let’s use a sports analogy to compare the life of the entrepreneur to that of a corporate employee.  Professional athletes who play individual sports like tennis or golf must perform each week at the highest level to earn a paycheck -- let’s forget the concept of endorsement money for the sake of argument. Compare this to professional team sports like the big four of football, basketball, baseball and hockey where athletes have huge contracts with guaranteed money regardless of their weekly performance.

Entrepreneurs must perform daily and our scoreboard is our P & L, our balance sheet and our year end tax return that will quantify whether we earned more or less money than the previous year in black and white.

Thankfully, as an entrepreneur, we have the DNA make-up to lead this crazy lifestyle. Most of my career was spent in the payment processing industry helping business owners with their credit card processing needs. During this time, I needed to develop a sales force of over 600 independent salespeople, many of which worked on full commission. In my opinion the commissioned salesperson is the ultimate entrepreneur who must perform every day to earn their money and will work as many hours as they need to do so. They deserve to make lots of money and kudos to those who have taken this path!

Related: Compensating Salespeople.

Time is what you make of it.

Let me share an example from the smart phone industry to further highlight how time can affect different levels of entrepreneurship.

Person number one may enjoy working at the cell phone store from nine to five. This worker is perfectly happy going home at the end of the shift and will be ready to come back the following morning.

Person number two is an entrepreneurial individual who aspires to buy a store in their town. They want to become known as the “local cell phone store” for their community where all families frequent to get their first phone.

Person number three is not happy being a "corporate employee” or owning just one store -- but wants to create an empire and own stores all throughout the state and eventually the country. 

Persons two and three are both true entrepreneurs, however, they have a varying degree of aspirations. How much of their time they devote to fulfilling those aspirations will make all of the difference.

Whether an entrepreneur, a corporate employee or anything in between, we all have the same hours in the day that week. But the clocks of the entrepreneur and corporate employee are very different time machines!