Is it fair to go home 5 o'clock sharp so you can have more time to do your startup?


I saw this response in other thread that in order for you to get more time to build your startup, you should go home right ontime (5 o'clok sharp) everyday if you're still working for someone else. But for those working in I.T industry you can never predict what's going to happen right? It's not like working in a bank where you can always go home at 5 o'clock everyday. Sometimes you need to finish that work that is almost done and sometimes it can take more time than you expected. But again on the other hand you need more time for your startup. So is it fair to be like that? Am I too concerned about the company I work for?

Employees Ethics

asked Oct 28 '09 at 10:27
1,342 points

6 Answers


Personal experience: Leave at 5 and don't work overtime, especially if you are a salaried employee. Employers seldom recognize the additional hours so you are giving away something of value for free. From another view, what you work on on your own time will be a revenue generator for years and years. The only benefit you might get long term from an employer from overtime is a slightly higher raise (very unlikely) and a slightly higher retirement (if you stay with them for 30 years. As soon as your afer hours business turns profitable, leave the employer.

answered Oct 28 '09 at 11:52
Bob Flanagan
81 points
  • I agree for the most part, but everyone in the office knows who works late and who leaves at 5 sharp. If there's a layoff, it's clear who needs to go. Of course that can be overcome by being indispensable anyway, but it certainly doesn't earn you good will. – Jason 14 years ago


I think it is a work ethic.

Put the shoe on the other foot, someone is working for you, they are nearly done, but it is 5, so they pack up and leave, hopefully remembering what they need to do to quickly finish the task.

If you need more time to do your startup work then just wake up earlier, or, things can balance, if you stay late one day you may be able to slide out a little early another day.

Your startup may be your passion, but if you need your job for bills, then you need to make that a priority.

If you leave at 6pm, and go to bed at 11pm then you still 5 hours for your startup work. You may need to cancel your TV subscription, for example, if that is a distraction.

answered Oct 28 '09 at 10:52
James Black
2,642 points
  • +1. Great answer. – Chris W. Rea 14 years ago
  • That assumes that you can cram in 5 hours extra per day for weekdays... expect to see burn out soon – Graviton 14 years ago
  • If you are doing what you are passionate about, you will be doing it frequently, but yes, this is the price for having to work and work on a startup. You need to spend at least sometime having fun, to blow off steam. – James Black 14 years ago


There are additional things to consider when working on your startup while working for another company: Do you have a non compete clause in your contract? Are your inventions your own while you work for your company?

Are you being paid for overtime? If not, then it might be expected of you to finish your work regardless of the time, as you already are compensated for overtime. If you are paid for overtime, then it is more of your choice, make more money or have more free time for yourself.

As for leaving at 5pm, it depends on the standards in your company. If everyone leaves at 5, you don't need to be the one guy that stays around. If everyone does overtime, then it is not that easy to simply leave, as it might make you loose your job, or make your boss think less highly of you, and you might need a recommendation from him in the future, or even to keep your current job if things don't work out.

answered Oct 28 '09 at 16:11
Ron Ga
2,181 points


You don't want to lose your safety net until you're ready to. As someone who was recently let go for spending too much time on his start-up (I was preparing to quit soon anyway), believe me when I say that you want to leave on your terms, not the company's.

For that reason, I'd suggest that you avoid being a "clock-watcher," and stick it out, doing the best that you can.

answered Oct 28 '09 at 11:43
Josh Sam Bob
1,578 points


I once worked for an employer like this. The manager was a douche, long story short I lost my job because it was a job working in the media industry and the ones who stay the latest after hours are the ones who stay hired. The other developer at this place would stay to 9 sometimes 10 at night working, I would go home because I have a life and my own start-ups to work on, it was a salary position too.

It's sad we live in a society where leaving on time is frowned upon, yet staying back is considered being loyal when it does nothing good for you or the employer in the long run. Leave on time, otherwise you're ruining your work / life balance. If you get fired, so be it, probably not an employer you would want to be working for in the first place.

My motivation for leaving on time everyday is not wanting to be a slave to a corporation full of executives and bigwigs that make more money than I do, when I'm one of the employee's keeping the company afloat.

answered Feb 24 '11 at 10:28
Digital Sea
1,613 points


Often we're in a rush to get home to work on our own ideas, and problems like this come up.

Working in IT, late / extra hours are inevitable and unavoidable, no matter how great or horrible your boss. It's a given that some things are done in off hours to not be a pain during on-hours. Also, working in a recession is a luxury and the extra mile will be expected to a certain degree, so you might have to do more than you want.

If we're looking to build something outside of your work, it's important to remember while the job may give us temporary financial stability, it will not give us lasting freedom to create.

I'm going to come at this from a different angle.

Generally we have to play by the rules until we can set our own.

Time is wealth, not money. Why? Money, we can get back somehow, not time.

Put your time into your dreams first. Not possible while having a job/family?

Success in anything appears to be largely because of one quality. Discipline. Discipline done correctly always speeds up and magnifies success.

Having healthy discipline financially, mentally, educationally, professionally, physically, spiritually, dietary has rarely landed people in a bad spot.

But startup discipline. What would that look like?

Here's the thing:

1) Our job doesn't need our best energy every day - If you're any good at your job, you understand that the majority of problems that you deal with don't need your talents most days, just your existing abilities and attention to detail. Employers hire consistency and reliability. This is a simple fact. You do get hired to go the extra mile and do the extraordinary when it's needed (making you more valuable), but on most days you just have to be on top of things.

2) Your ideas often need your best energy to figure out - Creation is creative. It requires a clear rested mind, not so many distractions, enough energy and not being worn out from the day.

My discovery:

1) Put my time into my dreams first, every day - My best, highest, most rested energy goes into my dreams every day, before I go to work.

2) Late Night is not much different than Early Morning - It's true we get a lot done late at night when the distractions have died down. Waking up super early is the same, plus you have a full rested head.

What seems to work for me:

I try to sleep by 9 or 10 PM a few nights a week, so I can get up at 4:30 or 5 at the latest. Before I go to bed, I make a list of what I want to do in the 2-3 hours in the morning before I have to be out the door.

A surprising thing happened... I started leaping out of bed at 3:30 - 4:00 AM. Like I was 18 again.

answered Feb 24 '11 at 11:02
Jas Panesar
244 points

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