The “Working Hard” Myth

Late nights. Crazy hours. Working weekends. People inside and outside of the tech industry see that founding a startup has to include long hours and a ton of hard work. While it does include a ton of hard work and lots of time, there is a preconceived notion that you have to give up being a good father or mother, be socially isolated, and succumb to a sub-standard life outside of work to be successful. I’m now on my 2nd company and I fully reject this idea on the basis that founders waste about 50% of their teams time on doing stuff that has 0 impact on the business.

Startup Failure

There is a lie that we (Founders) tell ourselves that sounds like:

“If I just work hard enough the fundraising round will close. “

“If I just work hard enough the customer will decide to move forward”

“If I just work hard enough the product will get higher ratings”

“If I just work hard enough…” . I’ve said this to myself countless times. Why I come back to this phrase is because I’m comfortable here. Hard work got me through school. My experience in engineering taught me that hard technical problems took a lot of time. I was told hard work will eventually lead to success.

Unfortunately, hard work doesn’t always equate to success in the tech startup space. Think about how many startup founders admit their startup failing because “They didn’t work hard enough” or “They didn’t try hard enough”? Can you think of one?

Early days of my first startup

In the early days of TrackR, I found myself stretched between an endless convertible note round, low cash OEM deals, programming the product, dealing with manufacturing issues, recruiting, managing team members, and running marketing. It shouldn’t be shocked that I didn’t do most of them all that well (especially the managing part). However I lied to myself that I was doing an okay job at all of them and everything was progressing well.

During this time we almost ran out of cash about 5 times.

Almost running out of cash is talked about as an entrepreneur merit badge but it’s mainly the outcome of poor management and planning — which during the early days of TrackR, there was none. We didn’t have any systems. We didn’t have any accountability other than when I felt like it. We didn’t have any defined goals. And all our “KPI” numbers were pretty much every number that we could possibly look at.

This lack of focus and “startup life” hard work culture wore down on the team and got nothing done.

A different approach at Shine

Starting fresh, I saw a huge opportunity to implement systems from the get go that would enable our team to focus. At Shine, I’ve been running on EOS (Read Traction) from the get go. We have our quarterly goals well defined, decide on what numbers we care about as a team, and enjoy planning what we are going to do each week. This has been an incredible practice that our team is getting better at every week but I’ve noticed that I’ve been able to get much more done with a lot less time.

It could be that this is second go around at starting a company but I doubt it. It feels like this system, the planning, and the focus on only what matters is give our team incredible speed with a lot less effort.

What system are you running your company on?



Surfer, Kiter, 3x Entrepreneur in the consumer space. Currently advising, investing, and consulting.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Chris Herbert

Surfer, Kiter, 3x Entrepreneur in the consumer space. Currently advising, investing, and consulting.