Initially posted on Quora
It all depends on where you are at in your project and how complex the business model is.
We’ll assume your startup is innovative. Because if it isn’t, you’re just applying a known recipe, in which case execution primes. In that case you can and probably should spend 16 hours a day launching because there is already competition and your energy will make the difference (since there is no innovative differentiator).
If it really is innovative, it will take time to find the right business model (also called architecture). Four years before acceleration is a safe bet. There is a common myth that innovation is fast – it isn’t. Technological improvements, novelty from the GAFA can go fast, but there is already momentum on which they are surfing and it is at best “incremental” innovation. Google took 5 years at least to find the right combination between product and market fit.
Sometimes business models NEED time to mature. You can actually only spend a few hours every day and it will be enough. As long as the architecture hasn’t been laid out, and then tested, there is no sense in accelerating. Early planes and cars didn’t have a clue as to what was the proper architecture. It took decades. You actually need to be able to step back and perform deep thinking. Often at this point in time it makes sense to have full-time or part-time job. It allows you to build your project according to what is necessary, not according to your dwindling finances and pressure to raise cash.
After architecture (business plan), you work on acceptance. That takes more time because you need to go out and make people test your idea. You did it in the architecture phase, but that was just to make sure it worked. Now you have to make sure it runs and people are ready to use it, and then to recommend and use it again. That is time consuming and will progressively require a full 12 hour day at least, enticing, engaging and validating that you are really bringing value. After architecture, this acceptance phase will have taken two more years, working progressively more and more.
Once you have confirmed acceptance, you will start testing acceleration. At this point in time you’ll have to organise yourself so as to spend a third of your time looking either to generate growth or to raise cash. You can of course work less, but that reduces probabilities. Working more isn’t necessarily productive and as you’re off for another 2 years, it may be a drain. Working better is also good, such as focusing on value or engaging customers, instead of coding for fun or organising useless launch events.
Just make sure you work the right amount at the right time. There is no sense in pushing a car with now wheels or a plane with no high-lift, be it an hour or a whole day!