Startup Life, Survival, & The Hustle
Hustle your Way to Success
For a long time, the word "hustle" has been viewed negatively and is usually associated with immoral behaviour and fraud. Nowadays, it is a term that every founder or entrepreneur wants to be associated with as its perception has changed. The market has become saturated with businesses in every niche; to distinguish yourself from and outperform competitors.
"Hustle means to work hard relentlessly in the face of discomfort to achieve your goals" - Josh Meah
As a startup founder, having thick skin is not enough. Along with this, you must possess a drive to succeed like no other. If you are disheartened or lose motivation when someone says "no", you will not survive the startup life. Being turned down and told "no" is just a regular day at work.
Dealing with Rejection
When a founder secures funding from an Investor, it is a huge confidence boost as it is verification that someone big believes in their product. Acquiring Venture Capital support serves as confirmation that your startup has excellent potential, and there's a vast likelihood it will succeed. However, what happens when an Investor says they are not interested? Some founders may feel their egos have been hit and allow the rejection to hinder their motivation to continue. The hustler, however, will be more motivated than ever before.
According to Forbes, Google's founders were turned down by an Investor when they wanted to sell the company for a mere $1 million. Five months after being turned down, they earned $25 million. The point is, potential customers will say no, friends and family may discourage you, investors will say no, but a hustler keeps going if they know the idea is right, and they are confident that they can make it work with the right resources and effort.
Expert Definitions of "The Hustle"
Dylan Houlihan, the founder of Swift Salary, described hustling as "a state of mind" and further outlined what it means to him:
"Having hustle means you're willing to do the things that other people aren't in order to make your dreams a reality. You're willing to get up earlier. You're willing to stay in on a Friday night to push your business further. You're willing to do what it takes to be successful, even if that means stepping out of your comfort zone. And most importantly, having hustle means consistently showing up, even when you don't feel like it."
Similarly, Grant Aldrich expressed the importance of "the hustle" for entrepreneurs:
"For an entrepreneur, hustling is like breathing, eating or drinking water. It's an inextricable part of the experience and keeps you alive. So much of being a successful founder is making the opportunities happen, whether that's a client deal, hiring the perfect team member, or getting the necessary capital from investors. Nothing happens if you sit around and wait".
While starting a company is exciting, and there's a lot to be enjoyed in the process, Elon musk once stated that "'Starting a company is like eating glass and staring into the abyss.' You have to do lots of things you don't like." Hustlers put their egos aside and take the good with the bad to ensure that their business gets to where they want it to be.
Learning the Startup Hustle
Do Not Hesitate
Startups are risky, and a huge percentage fail. But part of the journey is setting goals with uncertain outcomes. Setting an audacious goal and coming up with unlimited plans to make it happen is all part of being a hustler. Making a list of far-fetched goals and stepping out of your comfort zone to reach them is part of the process.
Become an Online Influence
Have you ever heard the saying, "it is not what you know, but it is who you know"? Being a startup founder requires knowledge, creativity, a drive to succeed, and connections with the right people. Connect with like-minded individuals on platforms like LinkedIn, and share valuable information about your learnings and industry of interest. Be careful not to come across as arrogant by sharing endless information about what you have achieved personally, and refrain from overselling your brand. Offering value and insightful information will help you to stand out.
People will have an opinion no matter what, and rejection is impossible to avoid. As a hustler, you have to accept the negative feedback with the positive, reach out to investors who haven't shown much interest, and be okay with people telling you that they don't like your idea and that it will fail. However, this is manageable when the negativity isn't coming from loved ones, but how will you react when friends disapprove of your decision to leave a secure job to chase your dream? Everyone will not share your vision, but with enough commitment to your idea, people will.
Find Alternative Routes
When you get lost along the way, find an alternative path. If you reach out to several potential clients via email, and no one responds, this is no reason to give up just yet. Hustlers will try again, and maybe also, and possible again via another means of communication. A hustler who hates cold calling will pick up the phone and dial the numbers of those who missed the email.
"Without hustle, talent will only carry you so far." – Gary Vaynerchuk