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Four-day week will not work for entrepreneurs

13 August 2018

Four-day weeks may boost productivity among established businesses (“Hard work may not pay after all”, August 6), but the opposite is usually true among those starting new ventures.

In our experience, the most successful start-up founders tend to work almost 24/7 with complete dedication and focus. The eternal lack of resources, the uncertainty, products that don’t work and staff turnover mean that the workload and pace of activity is relentless.

We believe one reason founders are able to cope is due to a high proportion of what you might call “brute force” tasks involved in starting a business (for example, business development calls, emails, managing staff and so on), which are time-consuming and monotonous, but not as cognitively demanding as creativity and idea generation.

While there is a limit to the time you can spend on creative activities, with the former an individual can spend as much time as their willpower allows. These tasks must get done in order to push the business forward, and with limited resources, if the founder doesn’t do it, nobody will. Those who succeed are therefore able to push through a high volume of work, both creative and more mundane, without giving up or get fazed by the impossible workload.

Of course, successful founders would say that the hard work does “pay”; however, it’s important not to romanticise the start-up lifestyle. We hear anecdotally that around 70 per cent of top graduates now aspire to entrepreneurship, but it takes a special kind of dedication and resilience to make it work. And it’s unlikely to involve a four-day week.

Alexander Mann
Concentric,
London SW1, UK

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