When you tell people you’re an entrepreneur, do you think about what you are saying?
At a superficial level, it is not a tough question – but chances are you don’t think about it. You might run a startup, and you’re likely working pretty hard, putting in a lot of hours.
Newsflash: You’re not the only one.
Every so often you meet someone who puts it into perspective what it means to be truly grinding.
Recently, I saw Gary Vaynerchuk’s video, “August.” In that piece, Gary depicts a very clear reality. There is a huge divide regarding how entrepreneurs push it in the month of August. Now, let’s be honest, and acknowledge that he is right on in pointing out there are only two ways to spend the month of August.
The first is to be pushing yourself three times as hard as you normally do, to gain ground on your competitors, to get through development, to get content up, or to get yourself otherwise ahead of the game for the fall. The second is to be at the pool with your friends and family enjoying yourself.
They aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive, but for most, it is impossible to do both. Everyone needs a break – it’s all about timing your break, though.
There is only one context in which I think that you should be spending your summer at the pool: if you just had a big win. If your company is killing it, growth is solid month-over-month, you’ve been grinding for months, and you need a break, then take the time off. As Gary points out, you won’t be alone, and you probably won’t fall behind.
That being said, if not falling behind is your metric of success, than you need to rethink what you are spending your time on. I can guarantee that Zuckerberg and Kalanick did not set out with the hope of moving along at an average pace.
If you are working, when everyone else isn’t, then you’re going to continue to gain ground, and that is why Facebook and Uber absolutely took off after their launches.
Let me be clear — calling yourself an entrepreneur means that you are absolutely in love with the grind. It means that you are willing to sacrifice things you might love (just a little bit less), because you are obsessed with your business, with changing the way other people spend their time, buy things, and engage with the world around them.
It is more than mere coincidence that the people who are winning what they do, the response usually sounds something like “I breathe, eat, and live my business, 24/7, every single week.”
It’s more than just coincidence that recent wins are the result of people who likely spent last August hunched over their desk or in meetings.
The reality is that when you see that video, you will have one of two reactions. The first is to do nothing and go about your month as planned, and the other is to completely rethink how you are going to spend what’s left of these 31 days, and how you are going to approach the months that follow.
Being an entrepreneur means that you have to know how to budget resources, including your time.
Take a moment and pause what you’re doing. First, think about your goals for the next month, where you want to be, and what you need to do to get there, and what stands in your way. Second, develop a strategy of what you are going to do, that you can do, at any hour, to start moving in the right direction. Third, and most importantly, write these goals down. It has been proven you are significantly more likely to achieve or exceed these goals if you write them down.
After doing this, remember that there are going to be a huge number of people (including your competitors), who are resting. They are taking a couple of weeks off, and just coasting. That’s your chance — and if that doesn’t motivate you, then you’re not an entrepreneur.
The world we live in is remarkable in that you have a unique opportunity to do amazing things without needing anyone’s permission. The ultimate indicator of whether what you are doing is valuable or completely useless is the market. God bless it.
More broadly, think about your time and think about the time you waste. As a teenage entrepreneur, I fully recognize that I waste a lot of time. This being said, my biggest moments as an entrepreneur have always coincided with my restructuring my time, and making a change that benefits my productivity. So go out there and push it. The only limit to your success is how far you will go to achieve success.
It is important to remember that there is no clear correlation between time and success. It is far more important to work smart than it is to throw hundreds or thousands of hours of unplanned hours of work on your company. Map out each quarter, month, week, and day, so that you can complete short and long-term goals that will better position you for success.
There are definitely people who can be more effective on a per hour basis than others, and don’t need to spend as much time working as others. Set goals, stay focused, and find your rhythm — because after all, every entrepreneur has their own journey.
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At age 16, I founded PrepReps, a marketing company that connects high school and college influencers with clothing apparel and tech brands. A week after my 17th birthday, I was featured in AdAge in an article titled “Meet the 17-Year-Old Running a profitable agency out of his dorm room.” I was named one of the “Top 5 High School Entrepreneurs to Watch in 2016”, and have given keynotes at marketing conferences for CPG and product companies. When I’m not on the grind or at school, I’m spending time with my friends and family, my dog, Jagger, wake-boarding, skiing, and playing tennis.