Work A Day

Thirty-seven years. That’s how long I’ve been a worker, in one form or another.

That’s way too long. Let me clarify: that’s way too long to work in a conventional ten-hours-per-day-weekends-off arrangement. Spending a fixed amount of time per day creating wealth for someone else sounds so Dickensian. Visions of 18th century English cotton mills and coal mines come to mind. I shudder at the horror.

And yet we still keep this as the standard model. This worked (pardon the pun) when everyone’s input to the workplace was more-or-less equal.

For drones, this is acceptable. But if you created something brilliant, or applied insight to solve a problem or became supremely popular with clients and customers, your worth was aggregated with everybody else. Sure, bonuses and awards help, but you’re still rewarded by a paycheck reflecting your peers’ ability, not your own.

So perhaps it works for most folks…but definitely not all.

If we lived in a task or goal-oriented world, this would not stand. If you have a specific goal and achieve that with two hours of work per day, why must you stay for another six? Isn’t a half-day of focused activity better than a whole say spent mostly cruising Amazon? Get your work done, and go do something else.

This is why people – ambitious and adventurous people – create a job for themselves. This used to be known as starting your own business, but I like to think about it differently. First, create a job. Find others to come along for the ride. Then remove yourself from your job and have others run things (profitably) for you. That’s when you’ve created a business.

Eyes Up

Media types love this time of year. They have an opportunity for retrospective commentary and then indulge in prospective commentary.

All that is fine, but feels to me utterly disengaged from the world.

If we’re in business, we are already operating in 2016. If we run a household, we already have our plans for next year. Budgets are refined from this year, the new plans are ready to go, the goals are out there. Prioritize might shift from December to January, but the planning started months or years ago.

My point is that this holiday period isn’t an end to anything, it is just a short break before we continue to meet our personal, business and entrepreneurial challenges. Here’s to discipline, planning and prioritization.

Entrepreneur?

Me? I have spent most of my life working in task-oriented environments.

I am most comfortable with clear-cut goals, measurable achievement and stated milestones. The tools to get where you’re going in this system are checklists, to-do lists, required reading, examinations of skill and knowledge, prescribed times in position and records of all this guff.

Now. My question is whether being an entrepreneur means leaving that model of work behind? Does being entrepreneurial necessarily mean living with chaos, or is it something else? Is owning and working a self-directed business entirely about working free-form?

I guess at bottom, the question I am asking is:

Are entrepreneurs born or made?

Work

Entrepreneurs and business owners have a reputation for working hard, by which I guess people mean they work long hours. Whether that is factually true or not, I have no idea, but what I do know for certain is that I spend an inordinate amount of time at work. Sixty hours a week or more most weeks. Notice, not my own enterprise; another person’s.

Deep within me is a wellspring of thought that says:

Work hard, work long. It’s virtuous. Hours count.

I rationalize that as the echo of a mildly ascetic protestant upbringing, a kind of non-papist monkhood.

This is not smart. A quick search of academic research, business education and common sense points to the opposite: that a well organized and focused short working week maximizes one’s productivity health and satisfaction. Thirty-five hours stands out as around the right time.

Here’s the challenge. How can we own a business (or multiples) and yet still work less than forty hours a week? We know that leisure, sleep, family time and regeneration generally are crucial, but the demands of business will always creep into our thoughts.

We’re designing the perfect solution for this to all pan out.