Is it better to work hard or work smart? The debate stems from the argument that one of these working styles is more likely to gravitate towards success. Often, these two methodologies or “working styles” manifest in the office culture. However, successful people and companies do not choose one or the other. They tend to have elements of both.

We are all familiar with this quote:

“If you work hard enough, you will be successful.”

This working mentality is often associated with “The American Dream” – working towards a suburban home, white picket fence, and nice car. Especially in the corporate world, working hard reflects in our desire to “climb the corporate ladder” towards higher positions and salaries. We measure the number of years or hours in a day we have worked when evaluating success. However, if you expend all of your energy on one task, you could be wasting some of that energy on something that could have been substituted.

Work hard versus work smart in the startup world

This “work hard” style is now considered rather outdated in our time for startups, the digital revolution. The “work smart” style fits perfectly into the mold of startup culture. Working smart allows us to be innovative and advance quickly ahead of our competitors. We have advanced technology that allows us to do so – to be highly efficient and productive more than ever.

Bill Gates once said, “I pick the laziest person to do the hardest job, because they will find the easiest way to do it.” He certainly has a point here – the “lazy” way is to utilize technology and outsource, which creates efficiency, saves time, and saves money. However, this question still remains: why aren’t we utilizing both work styles?

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The mentality in a successful startup does not pick work smart or work hard, it combines elements of both. Interestingly, the D8ii office has never had a negative cash flow since its inception. Our founder Jayson Ho often encourages the mentality that we are results driven – quality is everything. That being said, we are willing to stay late or work 15 hours to finish a project to make sure it delivers the highest performing result. According to Forbes, the leading CEOs have a wakeup time around 5-6:15am. On average, they work 15 hours a day; many reported clocking in 18 hours. Additionally, many said they work 2-3 hours at home after work. These business leaders credit their successes to working when other people are not.

That being said, in order to be successful, we have to work smart, but we also have to work exceptionally hard. When you think about it practically, working smart AND working hard is a powerful combination. We have to be the startups that outsource, utilize technology, and streamline to become as efficient as we possibly can – but we also have to be the ones working late at the end of the day (some of us relying on coffee). “Work smart” and “work hard” should not be viewed as mutually exclusive. To get ahead, we have to work smarter, longer, and better.