How to Improve Your Work Ethic as an Entrepreneur

People throughout my career have asked me, “Pat, what can I do for you to mentor me directly?” I have a very simple criteria. I don’t care if a person is extremely talented, whether or not they have a degree, or their nationality. If you don’t have a strong work ethic, I can’t work with you. Here’s why. If you don’t have a strong work ethic, you’re not going to give the highest return possible on the knowledge and skill passed on to you. Why should I put time into you if the duplication part is not going to return?

What prompted this episode is that we got at least 200 messages, emails, Snapchats, and Facebook messages with people saying, “Pat, you keep talking about work ethic. Can you please explain how one can improve their work ethic?”

So today’s video is not for the people that subscribe to the “Four Hour Workweek” by Tim Ferriss. This is not the video for you. This is not the video for people that work only three hours a day, with assistants that do the bulk of their work. Apart from a few anomalies, no person doing a four-hour work week develops a substantial business. This video is for people who have plans of running a big business, touching people and clients.

So that’s the message here. How to improve your work ethic as an entrepreneur.


Before I get into the main points, I want to dissect the words, “work ethic.” I’ll do it in a way where you’ll see the meaning behind the words and then you’ll need to make the decision of what work ethic means to you.

The Meaning of Work

First, what’s the definition of work? Work is activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result.

The Meaning of Ethic

Now what's the definition of ethic? In Greek, the definition of ethic is the science of morals. To better understand this, let’s look at the meaning of the word, “morals.” Morals means a person's standards of behavior or beliefs concerning what is and is not acceptable to you. Simply put, morals are what is and is not acceptable to you.

So putting it all together, work ethic is:

Activity that requires effort to achieve a purpose + the standard of behavior that is or is not acceptable to you.

So when people say, “How do I improve my work ethic?” I first have to say that I don’t know your standards, belief system, what you stand for, or your vision. I don’t know your mission, how big you want to build, and how big of a legacy you want to leave.

Four Hour Workweek

Do you want to work the four-hour-workweek? Do you want to be a minimalist? If so, that’s great. That’s your prerogative. Today a lot of people in America respect people that want to make money without doing a lot of work. That is okay, if that is morally acceptable to you. I have a different level of what work ethic I’m morally okay with because of my dad’s strong work ethic.

I’m not dissing the four-hour-workweek. I’m not here to tell you how to live your life, but the four-hour-workweek is not for me. But you need to take inventory of yourself today, and find the purpose of your life, what you want to achieve, and what type of effort you want to put in. You have to determine your standards of behavior and what is and is not acceptable to you. Anything else I say here is irrelevant, because some won’t agree with my work ethic.

Now, since I have made that clear, let me explain to you how you can improve your work ethic. I’ll share with you tips that worked for me over the years that will hopefully do the same for you.

15 Ways to Improve Your Work Ethic

Now here are 15 ways to improve your work ethic.

#1: Be Predictable

First things first, to me, is somebody with a strong work ethic is predictable, every day. Every day they show up at the same time and leave at the same time. There is a predictable work effort put out every day.

The other day I did a conference call with a group of 40 entrepreneurs, builders that are doing a very, very good job in our firm. One of the guys asked a question about momentum. And I said, "Listen. Those who steadily grow their business show up every single day without any disruptions.” Everybody has crises, and those who gain and maintain momentum are ones that are predictable, even when they go through crises.

#2: Consistency

Consistency is similar to predictability, but predictability has to do with showing up at the same time, and consistency is when you keep showing up and keep doing your work. With consistency you compound your efforts because eventually after enough consistent effort, all of a sudden you’ll have an inevitable explosion that takes place in your business.

#3: Prepare the Night Before

Proper preparation prevents poor performance. This is something an old mentor told me. Proper preparation prevents poor performance. This was a man that bragged about the fact that he’s not talented. But he was disciplined. He was solid, strong, and disciplined. He read the book Think and Grow Rich two to three hundred times.

Everything to him was about preparation. Every time he talked he had a 3” x 5” card with him. So prepare. Prepare the night before, the week before, before a meeting or conference. Everything is about preparation.

If I’m supposed to give a speech nine months from now, I already have a folder made on my phone, and I just keep adding stuff that I'm going to talk about in that meeting.During the nine months of preparation, I keep adding notes in my phone. This type of preparation is part of work ethic.

#4: Do More

Listen in here for some examples of how you can improve your work ethic by doing more.

#5: Subscribe to the "Now" Mentality

“We’ll call them tomorrow” is the opposite of the “now” mentality.

The other day one of my guys called me. He said, "Hey man, I'm kind of disappointed, you know, because the office lease that I wanted didn't go through." And this is a commercial real estate agent that he's flopped with me three times. I’ve made this guy $200,000 and three times he’s let down referrals that I gave him. I don’t do well with that, because my credibility is on the line.

I said, what did he do?” He said, "Well, you know, we're just not getting the deal." Right there, while I was on speaker phone, I texted the commercial real estate agent. He didn’t respond. I called his office. He didn’t respond. I called his phone. He didn’t respond. I then talked to his supervisor and asked to speak to the owner of the company. They put me on the phone with the president of the company. Within an hour I got a call or text back from everybody.

The guy ended up getting exactly what he wanted, and more. Why? Because I said, “Let’s do it now.” This is the “do it now” mentality. Do it now, not tomorrow, is part of work ethic.

#6: Find Running Mates

I love people that work as hard as me and push me. There’s nothing like it. I love running mates. I love people that say, “Pat, five more reps,” and when I say, “Dude, I’m tired,” they respond, “Pat! Five more reps!”

Some days you don’t feel like it. And you need someone to push you, so look for a running mate or working buddy.

#7: Don't Fall for the "Work Smart Only" Concept

Listen in here for my thoughts on why you shouldn’t fall for the “work smart only” concept.

#8: Cut Distractions

This is very simple. You’ve got to cut distractions. You're still going to have some distractions in your life. But you've got to cut the distractions that you can cut. I don’t want to deal with office politics. I want to perform well. So I cut distractions.

#9: Absolute Focus

Believe me, absolute focus is tiring. I'm the ADHD guy and you know how people with ADHD don’t know how to focus. I’m the guy that sees something, and boom, I’m gone.

You have to train your mind to be focused. Your mind is a muscle you can train. If your doctor prescribed you medication, I’m not questioning your doctor. But I’m telling you to stop making the excuse that you can’t stay focused. Practice focus.

#10: Have a To-Do List

Next, have a to-do list. A to-do list helps you know what needs to get done next.

Earlier Mario wanted to add another project to our list of projects. I said, “Let me show you what I’ve got on my to-do list.” I went through every single thing. He said, “Pat, I get the point.”

Looking at my to-do list let us know we need to wait 90 days before we add something else.

#11: Eat Right

Next, work ethic requires energy, and eating right helps you last a long time. If you eat right, you’ll be able to stick around longer.

#12: Plug the Leaks

Listen in here for the connection between plugging leaks and a strong work ethic.

#13: Cut the Fat

Cutting the fat is letting go of work you don’t need to do, work that someone else can do. There is work that may make you feel excited, like you got stuff done, but it wasn’t necessary. Fat are things that don’t grow your business. You may do them just because you just want to go home, saying you worked hard.

There are days that you work and you go home and say, "What happened today to my business? How did the value of my business increase today?” It didn't! But you feel like you worked 10 hours.

This one guy told me, “I'm at the office every damn day, Patrick.” He was screaming in my face.

How the hell can you be at the office sixty hours a week and in a month you only make four sales? You tell me how. Tell me!

Just because you’re at the office doesn’t mean you’re working hard. Man, cut the fat. Turn off Facebook. Turn off Snapchat. Make some calls. Contact. Reach out to somebody.

When he cut the fat, his business blew up.

#14: Drop Perfection

Sometimes a person doesn't work as hard because they want to do things so perfectly, they don’t even take the shot. If you don’t take the shot, you run out of time and lose the game anyway.

Guess what? If there's six seconds left on the shot clock, and you look for the perfect shot, what's the chances of you winning if you don't get the perfect shot? You're not going to win, if you don’t take the shot.

This is a contradiction of preparation. I get it. But I would much rather have you take the shot than not take it. Work a lot on being prepared. But don't expect to have a perfect environment all the time. Perfection prevents explosion many, many times. Because it's never going to be perfect. Don’t wait for a perfect time to hit it. You've got just to hit it.

#15: To Avoid Burnout, Have Your Own Escape

Finally, a way to avoid burnout when you have a strong work ethic is to have your own escape. Here's what I mean by escape. I went to the movies every single month, by myself, in the middle of the day and watched a movie with the only other people there in the middle of the day - 80 year olds. It was my escape. It was my therapy.

I worked so hard, so every other week I was at the spa getting a massage. When I was single, I went to the beach every Sunday and sat there and read. I’d go do the stairs in Santa Monica. I went to the sand dunes. I’d go to my favorite restaurant, be served by my favorite waiter, and sit and order the exact same food. I had my rituals.

You've got to find ways to have your own release. You've got to find ways to have your own escape. Selfishly reward yourself.

You have to have the carrot. But you have to create the carrot yourself, to have a stronger work ethic. Because if you don't, when you hit 100 grand you'll stop. When you hit a quarter million, you’ll stop. When you hit a milestone, you’ll stop, because you don’t have the next carrot.

So keep all these things in mind about work ethic. But out of everything I told you, the most important thing is to go back and study these three words: work, ethic, morals. And then dictate what your standard of behavior is going to be and what is and is not acceptable to you.

If you have any questions or thoughts, comment on the bottom. And if you haven’t already subscribed to my YouTube channel, click on the button below to subscribe.


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