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Arielle Charnas said she works 4 hours a day. But is it really possible to run and scale a successful startup from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.?

A young woman is working at a laptop on sofa at homeMany founders start their businesses as side hustles.

Ekaterina Goncharova/Getty

  • Arielle Charnas, the founder of Something Navy, said she works from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Insider asked founders whether it’s possible to run and scale a startup working four hours a day.
  • Most said it’s not possible, with a few exceptions, such as for founders who have side hustles.

Arielle Charnas, the influencer founder of Something Navy, has an unusually short workday.

A recent Insider article about calamity at her company included the detail that Charnas said on Instagram this year that she worked from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. — a stark contrast to the founder grind portrayed by the likes of Elon Musk, Jack Ma, and Marissa Mayer.

Insider asked more than 50 founders over email whether entrepreneurs can be successful working just four hours a day. The consensus was that most can’t afford to work half a day.

“It’s almost always more time-intensive than a typical 9-to-5,” said Kyle Clements, who launched an equipment-rental-software company called Quipli in 2021.

There are some exceptions. The founders said that while most people who want to scale their companies rapidly must commit full time, it’s possible to start a business or run a side hustle for a few hours a day.

It’s possible to start with a few hours a day

Many founders start their businesses as side hustles while working a 9-to-5 job. That’s the case for Justin Silverman, 32, who works on his marketing agency, Merchynt, while maintaining a full-time job as a partnership manager at a software company. He said he doesn’t need to spend more than four hours a day growing his business.

headshot of Justin Silverman, founder of MerchyntJustin Silverman is the founder and CEO of Merchynt.

Courtesy Justin Silverman

Ocean Ronquillo-Morgan, a 24-year-old software engineer, spends about three hours a day on her side hustles. She’s able to tackle both roles because her corporate job is based in California but she works East Coast hours.

But scaling takes more time, especially for some founders

Amy Spurling, 45, started her HR-tech platform, Compt, as a side hustle but left her C-suite job once it was time to officially launch her company. Today, she typically works 40 to 45 hours a week.

Amy SpurlingAmy Spurling, founder and CEO of Compt.

Amy Spurling

Spurling said that while it depends on the type of business, it’s difficult to grow a company while putting in few hours. She added that this is especially true for venture-backed startups.

“In order to be venture-backed, you have to show certain growth patterns,” she said. “If you don’t fit into that pattern, it’s going to be very difficult to get funding.”

Certain strategies can make a 4-hour day possible

Silverman said a four-hour workday wouldn’t be possible without the automation software he uses to find customer leads and send emails. He also delegates some tasks to employees, hires independent contractors as needed, and uses partnerships with other companies to grow passively.

For example, he partnered with the New York State Restaurant Association to offer Merchynt’s services to its members. “Now we reap the benefit of growing as they grow their membership,” he said. “If you rely on partners to assist in your growth, it removes a lot of the work that 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 a day and always more to do, it helps to set boundaries to avoid burnout. She said she won’t work past 7 p.m. on weeknights or on weekends, doesn’t respond to emails outside of work hours, and logs off from work when she’s on vacation.

Ocean Ronquillo-Morgan, side-hustle founderOcean Ronquillo-Morgan has several side hustles.

courtesy of Ronquillo-Morgan

“My team will end up burnt out if I don’t model the behavior that they also need to have,” she said.

Silverman said that at times he’s needed to sacrifice social outings to work on his company, but he’s learned to prioritize moments with his friends and family. “I don’t need to go to a happy hour on a Thursday afternoon,” he said.

Ronquillo-Morgan said that when her business started growing, she noticed her sleep drastically decreasing. Now she sets Saturdays and Sundays aside for spending time with friends, relaxing, and recharging.

But even when the computer is powered down, a founder’s brain is always on.

“I can’t even tell you how many pitch decks I’ve written in my sleep,” Spurling said. “It’s important to disconnect, but it doesn’t mean your brain shuts off.”

Read the original article on Business Insider