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Adii Pienaar

Now working on Receiptful. Co-Founder & ex-CEO of WooThemes. Author of Brandiing. New Dad. Ex-Rockstar.

Startups Shouldn't Kill You

Everyone is working to hard. I include myself in that statement: I work too hard most of the time. Heck, in my average week I make compromises with regards to my health, my home life, my marriage and all of my friendships. All for the sake of working harder.

But what's the rush? What's chasing me / pushing me to work this damn hard?

While reading "Why Working So Hard Might Be Doing Your Startup More Harm Than Good" last night, I was reminded of a conversation I had with a friend during a visit to San Francisco last year. It went something like this:

  • Friend: So do you guys also pull crazy all-nighters and massive hack sessions, with minimal to no sleep, over at WooThemes?
  • Me: Nope. Why would we do that?
  • Friend: That's the way startups work. You hustle all the time to get your stuff out quicker.
  • Me: Nah, that doesn't really make sense to us. We prefer doing things in our own way, at our own pace. That way our jobs generate the most happiness.
  • Friend: *confused look*

I know that GaryVee has made the term "hustle" massively popular and every startup founder / business owner / entrepreneur is supposed to hustle their faces off. I understand that: I've worked incredibly hard along with my cofounders and the rest of the WooTeam to get to where we are today. Nothing happens without hard work & a fierce commitment to chasing one's dreams & goals.

The thing is I'm not an entrepreneur and neither did I cofound a company to hustle my face off all the time. Entrepreneurship & owning my own business is about so much more than just hustling all the time:

  • Loving my job;
  • Financial security & freedom; and importantly
  • Flexibility to allow me to spend more time with family / friends.

I'm not saying that it's impossible to be happy when you're simply hustling all the time. For some entrepreneurs that's fine and if you are happy with all those compromises that it eventually leads to, then who am I to fault you? I do however believe that the constant hustle that is being associated with startups by default these days, has created a distorted view of what it means to start your own business, being your own business and having some fun.

Your startup really shouldn't kill you. If anything it should be an enabler for you to be happier, healthier and work less (at minimum do the work your most passionate about).

I've not stopped working very hard, because I'm ambitious and I love my job. I am however trying to get a much better balance between my work & personal life. Ultimately this freedom is one of the main reasons I ever wanted to be an entrepreneur. Not to hustle my face off.

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