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19 Entrepreneurs Share What Hours They Work

startup work hours

If I had a penny for every time an entrepreneur joked about long hours, maybe I could fund your next startup.

But what hours do entrepreneurs really work? Answering that question might provide some psychological relief: if you feel ashamed or guilty of not working long enough, it might be reassuring to hear that not everyone is putting in marathon days. If you feel worn out and overworked because of your hours, you might discover that you’re not alone. 

We asked tech entrepreneurs to share their hours, and we got a host of responses across the board, falling into a few distinct categories: two or three shifts, “normal” hours, late night, early start, evenings and weekends, and 12+ hours. Here they are: 

Two or three shifts 

“My work days are usually split into two shifts – 11 am-5 pm, then 9 pm-3 am. In between those shifts, I like to hit the Crossfit gym.”

- Justin Zhu, CEO and cofounder of Iterable

“During the week, I’ll work 6:30 am-5 pm and 6-10 pm (travel time in between). On the weekends, I’ll check my email here and there, and work during my daughter’s three-hour naps.”

- Len Gauger, founder and CEO of Message Blocks

“My day starts with a yoga class, then I typically work 8 am to 5 pm, at which point I take a break to play with my pup outdoors. Somewhere between 6 and 10 I usually put in another hour or two, but it’s usually the more mindless activities like organizing merchandise (which I rather enjoy).”

Antonia Townsend, founder of Enclosed

“I usually work from home from 9 am-10 am, and then at the office from 10 am-7 pm. I’ll go out to dinner and then work from 10 pm-2 am, depending on workload.”

- Blaine Vess, CEO and founder of StudyMode

“I work 9-6, break for workout/dinner, and then 9 pm-midnight again. Some days I have grad school, so I will be in school from 6:30-9:30.”

- Mikhail Avady, CMO of Smartup

“Normal” hours 

“I work usually from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm. I’m generally one of the first in the office, since most people come in at 10 or 11 am.”

 – Tania Ryseck, business development associate at nVisium

“I work 9-6 most days. I never work weekends, and extra hours are generally confined to travel or when we’re at a trade show.”

- John Peebles, CEO of Administrate

Late night

“Well, everything starts out with the intention of 9-6, but somewhere around 8 or 9 pm I realize it’s going to be a long night.”

- Brian Winters, VP of services at Adcieo

“I work seven days a week: I wake up at 6 am and go to sleep at 1 am, sometimes midnight if I am lucky.”

- Jerry Castanos, CEO of 3D Heights

Early start 

“I usually wake up around 6:30 am, walk the dog, and go for a run. When I get back, I spend 20-30 minutes answering emails and questions from students that came in overnight. I try to get to the office around 8:30 am so I can get some work done before students and my team arrive. It’s the quietest time of day and I can work very efficiently. . . . I’ll leave the office around 7:00 pm, but like a typical startup, leaving the office doesn’t mean the work is done.”

Jeremy Snepar, CEO and cofounder of New York Code + Design Academy

“With the new baby, I’m up in the middle of the night so I’ll send ~10 emails between the hours of midnight and 6 am while helping her get to sleep. A lot of them are international prospects/clients :) I wake up around 6:30 am and go for a paddle board ride or bike ride (listening to Audible during the trip), come home and grab breakfast, then my day begins. I’m on and off with the team until they leave and usually do 2-3 dinners/week with associates, clients, and entrepreneur friends.”

Kyle Porter, CEO of SalesLoft

“In office on the beach in Venice, CA, from 7:30 to 4:30 and telecommute during off hours.”

- Ben Pappas, CEO of Call Creator Plus

“I’m a morning person (I know, obnoxious). By 6 am, I’m typically at my laptop in ‘heads down’ mode. I use the app Concentrate to turn off distractions, and use the first 1-2 hours of the morning to focus on things that need real thought. After my two-year-old daughter wakes up at 7:30, I spend time with her, then hit the gym, get ready, and walk the 0.9 miles to the Rise office, which is in the Mission area of San Francisco. Our office and team are awesome, so I sometimes lose track of time, but try to get home by 7:30.”

- Suneel Gupta, CEO and founder of Rise

Evenings and weekends 

“I still work full-time as a biomedical equipment technician in Kenosha, Wi (55 hours a week) and spend my mornings and lunch break, weekends, and a good portion of my evening working on the site.”

- Ryan Schlipp, owner of The Unprofessional Football League

12-hour+ 

“HAHAHA the life of an entrepreneur is neverending. Initially it felt like 24/7, now I’m down to 7 am-7 pm for the most part.”

- Laura Meck, managing partner at Small Business Secret Weapon Company

“5 am-10 pm”

- Mirta Desir of Smart Coos

“As of today, we are an eight-person team that often works remotely and internationally. I’m based in Shanghai, but have team members in San Diego, upstate New York, New York City, and Paris. In terms of the hours worked, I personally put in around 10-12 hours a day separated into 2- or 3-hour chunks beginning as early as 7 am and ending as late as 1 am.”

- Brett DeColyse, cofounder and CFO of Embark.org

“At Roojoom, located in Tel Aviv, I work pretty much from 6:30 am-12 am so that I can connect to all of the important time zones from Europe all the way to California and even Australia.”

- Marni Mandell, head of business development at Roojoom

“Our business is over 50% overseas so, to accommodate meetings with Copenhagen, Dubai, and Sydney, my hours are all over the map. I generally put in a core 8 am-8 pm and then take early calls at 5 am and late calls at 2 am as well as weekends to meet clients’ various time zones. As a tech platform, customers can come from anywhere and you need to be ready to meet them when they want to talk to keep them happy.”

- Brandon Ancier, director of customer happiness for Tint

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About the Author

Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and positive psychology. Since 2011, she has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact kira@tech.co.

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