This article examines the perceived need to work long hours during the start up of a company and suggests that a better approach is to set priorities and milestones and work according to that plan.

Getting Started

Appropriate Subject Area(s):

Careers, business studies, entrepreneurship

Key Questions to Explore:

  • What are the true needs when starting up a company?
  • How do I know how much time I need to put into it?
  • Do I need to work a 70 hour work week at a startup?

New Terminology:


Materials Needed:

Copies of the article for group work

Study and Discussion Activity

Introduction to lesson and task:

In today’s working reality young people increasingly face situations in which employment is offered on a contract basis with little or no commitment on the part of the employer to long-term employment. Often, rather than working from contract to contract with no benefits or seniority associated with this situation, the individual examines the entrepreneurial option of starting her or his own company. With this comes a series of questions and challenges about the likelihood of success and what will be involved in getting this venture under way. In short, how likely will success be and what will happen to a work-life balance?

This question of work-life balance is, however, not restricted to startups. With the advent of  technological developments and the resultant 24/7 communications networks the separation of personal life from work time has become practically impossible. With the decreasing need to be physically at a job location, more and more the question is becoming, “How much time should I be spending on the tasks of the job?”

This lesson will have the students initially examine a startup situation and then expand the discussion to explore the degree to which there is increasing pressure to spend more and more time “on the job” in regular work environments simply because it is assumed that people are available at virtually any time. The lesson will also have the students explore ways to monitor a healthy work-life balance to ensure that they have meaningful and happy lives.

Action (lesson plan and task):

  • Begin the lesson by asking the students to explain what they think is meant by the saying “It’s not the time you put in – it’s what you put in your time!”
  • From this discussion ensure that the students understand the need to set priorities and work accordingly.
  • Put the students into groups of about five or six and ask them to assume that they are going to start their own company.
  • Have them decide on the type of company they are going to start and identify those things which they believe they will have to do in order to get this company successfully off the ground.
  • Allow them a short time to complete this task and then have each group provide a brief report.
  • With the group reports completed ask the groups to now determine how many hours a week they think they would need to work in order to accomplish their goal.
  • Have each group report their number and then provide them with a copy of the article and allow them time to read and consider it.
  • With this completed, have them now reconsider their previous discussions and list any way in which they might change their original thoughts to ensure success but also maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Consolidation of Learning:

  • Have each of the groups restate their original list of tasks and the estimated amount of time required and then explain how, having considered the ideas in the article, they would alter their thoughts.
Success and Additional Learning

Success Criteria:

The students will:

  • demonstrate an awareness of what it would take to start up a company.
  • demonstrate an understanding of the need to establish priorities and indicators of success.
  • demonstrate an understanding of the need to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Confirming Activity:

  • Explain to the students that these challenges also exist now in many employment situations, not just with startup companies. Discuss with them the fact that, with the arrival of smart phones and the like, there is an increasing blending of personal and work time. Have them, for homework, list strategies that they would use to ensure that they monitor their work-life balance as they embark on their careers.