For the past 14 years, I’ve worked between 8 and 16 hours a day. Many weeks I worked 6 days a week; sometimes 7. Finally, earlier this week, I realized that I have been doing it wrong all along. All work and no play makes Robert unproductive and stressed out.
Why have I been doing this to myself? Because I thought I had to. For as long as I can remember I have heard stories of entrepreneurs working insane hours to become successful. I believed that I had to as well. However, I realize that that is no longer the case – it is possible to work less, be more productive, and make more money.
My epiphany came during the recent Advanced BTS I attended. I came to understand that I had taken on a label – “entrepreneur” – and that to me, that label meant sacrificing everything in life to build a successful business. I’m happy to report to you that I was mistaken.
The Definition Of Entrepreneur
A quick look at Wikipedia reveals that the definition of entrepreneur has changed many times since it was first used in 1803. Nowhere does it say you have to sacrifice anything in life to build a business! Rather it speaks to an entrepreneur being:
A risk taker
A pursuer of opportunities
Someone that starts a new business
A person with a need for high achievement
A shatterer of the status quo
Let me re-iterate – nowhere in any definition does it say that in order to be an entrepreneur, you must work 12+ hours a day. In fact, I will go so far as to say that if you are working 12 hours a day, you may be doing it wrong.
My first business was an IT services company. I was a one-man operation, and I did everything – all the service, marketing, sales, operations – everything. And it showed. I burned myself out on a regular basis. Like clockwork, every 3 weeks I would get sick for 3-4 days and have to rest. This cycle went on for close to 2 years.
In my second business – Atlantic Dominion Solutions (the current official name of Dempsey Marketing) – I decided to do it differently. Within a year-and-a-half I had 9 full-time employees. Hiring people was easy. What wasn’t easy was standing back and letting them do their job.
However, I made a critical mistake – in the rush to grow the company and take on more clients, I only hired developers. This resulted in a case of one chief and a ton of indians. In addition, one bad hiring decision made by yours truly led to the complete loss of an entire years worth of profit! A hard-learned lesson indeed.
What I should have done was make 3 key hires: account manager, sales person, and an HR person. Instead, I took on all of these roles, in addition to speaking at conferences, holding developer classes, and much more.
The key to working less in your business is building a team. This is one of the most important lessons taught by Richard Branson, the man who founded The Virgin Group, which is comprised of more than 300 companies!
Read more: Robert Dempsey, Dempsey Marketing