- Arielle Charnas, founder of Something Navy, said she works from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- An insider asked the founders if it was possible to run and scale a startup working four hours a day.
- Most said it wasn’t possible, with a few exceptions, such as for founders who have side jobs.
Arielle Charnas, the influential founder of Something Navy, has an extremely short workday.
A recent Insider article about her company’s mishap included details Charnas said on Instagram earlier this year that she worked from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. – in stark contrast to the founders portrayed by the likes of Elon Musk, Jack Ma and Marissa Mayer. .
An insider asked over 50 founders via email if entrepreneurs could be successful by working just four hours a day. The consensus was that most could not afford to work half a day.
“It’s almost always more time consuming than the typical 9 to 5,” said Kyle Clements, who founded equipment rental company Quipli in 2021.
There are some exceptions. The founders said that while most people who want to scale their businesses quickly need to put in a full-time job, it is possible to start a business or run an extra bustle for a few hours a day.
You can start with a few hours a day
Many founders start out as part-timers working 9 to 5. This is the case of Justin Silverman, 32, who works at his marketing agency Merchynt while maintaining a full-time job as a partnership manager at a software company. He said he didn’t need to spend more than four hours a day growing his business.
Ocean Ronquillo-Morgan, a 24-year-old software engineer, spends about three hours a day on her side jobs. She is able to tackle both roles because her corporate job is located in California, but she works hours on the East Coast.
However, scaling takes longer, especially for some founders
Amy Spurling, 45, started her HR-tech platform, Compt, as a part-time job, but left her management job when it was time to officially launch her company. Today, he usually works 40 to 45 hours a week.
Spurling said that while it depends on the type of business, it’s hard to grow a business by putting in a few hours. She added that this is especially true for venture-backed startups.
“To get venture capital backing, you have to demonstrate certain growth patterns,” she said. “If you don’t fit that pattern, it’s going to be very difficult to get funding.”
Some strategies can make a 4-hour day possible
Silverman said the four-hour workday would not be possible without the automation software it uses to find leads and send emails. It also delegates some tasks to employees, hires independent contractors when necessary, and uses partnerships with other companies for passive development.
For example, he has partnered with the New York State Restaurant Association to offer Merchynt services to its members. “Now we’re reaping the benefits of growth as they increase membership,” he said. “If you rely on partners to help you grow, it eliminates a lot of the work you would otherwise have to put into your business.”
Boundaries can help prevent burnout
Spurling said that while it often feels like there are never enough hours in the day and there’s always more to do, it helps to set boundaries to avoid burnout. She said she won’t work after 7pm on weekdays or weekends, doesn’t respond to emails outside of business hours, and logs out of work when she’s on vacation.
“My team will end up burning out if I don’t model the behavior they need to have as well,” she said.
Silverman said he sometimes has to sacrifice social gatherings to work on his company, but has learned to prioritize moments with friends and family. “I don’t have to go to happy hour on a Thursday afternoon,” he said.
Ronquillo-Morgan said that as her business began to take off, she noticed that her sleep had drastically deteriorated. Now he devotes Saturdays and Sundays to spending time with friends, relaxing and recharging his batteries.
But even when the computer is off, the founder’s brain is always on.
“I can’t even tell you how many declamations I wrote in my sleep,” said Spurling. “It’s important to disconnect, but that doesn’t mean your brain is shutting down.”