How Many Hours Do Business Owners Work? According to Studies, It’s a Lot

Thinking about starting a business but worried about how busy you’ll be? Or, have you already started a business and are wondering how many hours you should be clocking in? Either way, knowing how much other business owners work may be helpful. So, how many hours do business owners work?

Read on to learn averages and why entrepreneurs work the hours they do. Plus, get valuable tips to help you cut back on hours worked (while also getting more done!). 

How many hours do business owners work?

Want to ditch the 9 to 5 and become your own boss? Great! But first, there’s something you should know. Business owners put in long hours … a lot of long hours. 

Let’s start with some examples of successful entrepreneurs. Patriot’s founder and CEO Mike Kappel regularly clocked 70- to 80-hour workweeks when he started his first business. Self-made millionaire Grant Cardone shared that he works 95 hours per week. And, serial entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk says new entrepreneurs must put in at least 18 hours a day for the first year. 

Sound extreme? For business owners, long days are the norm—not the exception. In fact, 43% of business owners say that always being on the job is their biggest challenge in entrepreneurship. Similarly, 39% said that balancing work and family was theirs. 

So, how many hours do small business owners work on average? Let’s compare a few studies. 

According to a study by Inc.:

  • 33% of small business owners (SBOs) work at least 50 hours per week
  • An additional 25% of entrepreneurs log more than 60 hours per week
  • 70% of small business owners work at least one weekend on a regular basis

Another study by The Alternative Board found similar results:

  • 19% of small business owners work 60+ hours per week
  • 30% work 50 – 59 hours per week
  • 33% work 40 – 49 hours per week
  • 14% work 30 – 39 hours per week
  • 5% work 30 – 39 hours per week

And, the long hours don’t stop there—they bleed into vacation time, too. SCORE found that:

  • Only 57% of small business owners take vacations
  • 67% of small biz owners who do take vacations will check in to work at least once a day

Not to mention, 62% of entrepreneurs said the stress of ownership is worse than they imagined. But here’s the upside of it all: Most business owners love it, stating it’s “more rewarding than I could have ever imagined.” In fact, 44% of SBOs want to clock in a minimum of 40 hours. And, 73% reported having more flexibility with their hours than when they were working for someone else. 

How many hours do small business owners work? Infographic with stats from the article.

Why so many hours?

Business owners generally work longer hours than most employees because they have multiple roles in their businesses. This is especially true for entrepreneurs without employees. 

When you own a business, you may have to handle tasks like:

  • Setting business goals
  • Conducting a market analysis
  • Strategic planning
  • Creating your business plan
  • Marketing to customers
  • Answering emails, phone calls, and chats 
  • Keeping up-to-date on federal, state, and local laws (e.g., labor laws)
  • Sourcing and working with vendors
  • Handling accounting and taxes
  • Applying for small business financing
  • Brainstorming new product or service ideas
  • Hiring and paying employees 

…And so on. In short, running a business requires long hours because you have a lot on your plate—and only so many hours in a typical workday. 

When you’re passionate about your business and its success, these long hours may fly by. But be careful. Working too many hours for extended periods comes with some drawbacks. 

What are the downsides to working so much?

Think you can stick to consistently long workweeks? You may need to reconsider. Working too much can lead to things like:

  • Stress and anxiety
  • Poor work-life balance
  • Lack of sleep
  • Unhealthy habits (e.g., sitting too much)
  • Exhaustion 
  • Difficulty concentrating 

Over time, working too much can cause burnout—even if you’re passionate about what you do. One Harvard Business Review article reported that entrepreneurs are more at risk of burnout because they’re extremely passionate about work. 

So, what exactly is job burnout? The Mayo Clinic defines it as “A special type of work-related stress—a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity.” 

Long story short, burnout can make you think twice about whether your business is worth the effort.  

3 Ways to work fewer hours—and get more done

Yes, you likely need to put in long hours to make your business successful. But, there are several ways you can cut back on your workdays (and even get more accomplished). 

1. Automate manual tasks 

Administrative tasks, like managing your accounting books and running payroll, are arguably some of the most cumbersome yet important tasks you have. Not to mention, you have emails to write, customer relationships to manage, and so on.

Instead of spending hours on these types of tasks, automate them. You can automate manual tasks through tools like: 

For example, you can use accounting software to automatically import bank transactions, import data, record transactions, and send recurring invoices to customers. 

Save your time with Patriot’s Accounting Software
  • Automatically import bank transactions
  • No training required
  • Free USA-based support
Patriot Software logo

2. Hire employees (and remember to delegate) 

Is it time to hire your first employee? Consider whether the extra payroll expense will throw off your business budget. Examine your financial statements to determine if you can afford an employee. If you can afford to hire, having an extra set of hands could help you work fewer hours and increase business growth. 

Once you have an employee (or employees), use them! Don’t “forget” to delegate tasks to them, or you’ll find yourself in the same boat of overworking. 

Failing to delegate is more common among entrepreneurs than you may think. According to The Alternative Board study, small business owners said they don’t because:

  1. They feel they’re the most capable
  2. Their employees don’t have the right skills
  3. They’re in a hurry to get it done
  4. They like doing the tasks

3. Take some time for you

Your business may be your baby, but you also need to take care of yourself to take care of it. Make sure to take some breaks from the 60+ workweeks from time to time.

A few ways you can take care of yourself include:

  • Taking breaks (including vacations!)
  • Getting plenty of rest
  • Managing your stress
  • Spending time with loved ones
  • Enjoying your favorite hobbies 

Work smarter, not harder, with Patriot’s online accounting software. Save your precious time with seriously smart features like Patriot Smart Suggestion, automatic bank transaction imports, and so much more. Get your free trial today! 

This is not intended as legal advice; for more information, please click here.

Stay up to date on the latest accounting tips and training