Finish work at 4pm? Is it possible to build a business that way?

We’re told Denmark is the happiest country of all and in their businesses we hear that after 4pm, work is a strictly no go zone and even emails aren’t answered when it’s out of business hours but when you are self employed and building a business, often from home, is it really possible to only work from 8 or 9am, finish at 4pm and still create a profitable empire?  We asked members of our network what they thought and here’s what they said.

Mandy from Mandy Charlton Photography said “Now that I have 2 businesses, I’m finding more than ever that I need to section off pieces of my day and home education on top of that means pretty much separating my life into blocks on a schedule, I realise this won’t always be the case but currently if I finished work at 4pm now, I’d have a meltdown every time I opened my email box the next day.”

Lucie Charlton from Charlton Cooks said “This is something I would love to get myself into doing! But as you say, either when you look the next day there are too many emails, mainly for me as they are also on my phone I can’t help but see them…which means even if I’m not replying I am thinking about them. Also it is really hard to get across to clients that I may be busy or have other plans at 7pm at night. I need the business but I also need a life….catch 22.”

Saffron de Menzes commented that “I don’t finish at 4 as my working pattern isn’t quite so regular and has to fit in around home educating but I do have strict finishing times that are different for each day of the week, I could share them if it’s helpful. I feel like the time itself isn’t as important as the principle of really honouring time when I’m not just not doing work but when I’m not thinking about it either.”

Danielle Stanley with a large customer base in the USA said “Unfortunately not as most of my customers shop outside of traditional business hours and I have lots of international customers so they message all through the night. I usually wake up to at least two ‘where is my order’ messages from Americans who haven’t noticed that I’m not in the US!”

Claire Ritson from Dance Co said “I would love to this ( maybe not as early as 4pm) but defo a more sensible time! Since we got a premises I have tried to stick to answering enquiries within working hours when we are there but it’s not always manageable, we often have enquiries late at night for classes for the next day and I find myself trying to reply.
I do think it’s vitally important to set boundaries”

Samantha Rickleton from North East Family Fun commented “I think part of the beauty of being self employed is that you can choose your own working hours and have that flexibility. Today I have walked my children to school, enjoyed a 2 mile walk, met my friends for a 90 minute coffee, bought some food shopping and I’m only just sitting down to work now. It may mean that I work a little tonight but that’s fine – I’d rather have been out in the beautiful sunshine this morning. Strict working patterns just wouldn’t work for me as I love being flexible and fitting work around my life.”

Paula Smart from Wild Hearts Photography said ” I also don’t have strict working patterns and that works for me and for my family. One thing that helps me not feel like I am always on call is to uninstall Facebook and Messenger from my phone for a few hours and it feels very liberating. Once my clients have actually booked me I ensure they have my phone number so that they can still get in touch with me via text if they need a quick answer to something important that may crop up. I think a lot of practical things, and attitudes, would have to change in the UK before people would be willing or ready to accept the Scandinavian work/life balance model. But wouldn’t it be great?!”

Finally Fin from Wolfpack Personal Training commented “Yes! Love this. I am officially checking out this Friday at 12pm and making this a standard.  Focusing on structured hours actually improves the quality of my work. ”


So, our members really thought that it’s a great idea but not a practical solution but I wonder if it’s because we just accept that to be successful you need to work longer, harder and better than our employed colleagues who usually have much more structured hours before they can sign out, walk out the door and not have to worry about business anymore.

If you have a comment or opinion we’d love to hear what you think so leave us a comment below and remember, when women support women, amazing things happen.