The world runs on hustlers and if you’re lucky, you will learn to hustle too.
Tell me your knee-jerk response to the word “hustler,” or “hustla,” depending on what part of the country you’re from. Once upon a time, I thought “hustler” was a bad word, especially after somebody close to me got hustled with the pigeon drop con.
Then I married a hustler and it changed my idea of what hustle, hustler and hustling mean.
Good for me.
Had I not made that shift in my mind, I’d probably still be working a desk job for someone else (in lieu of working this desk job for myself).
Let me first say I’m bringing this up because in urban communities, the term “hustler” carries a negative connotation. I’ve seen the banter in the black business groups on Facebook.
“I run a business, not a hustle.”
“I incorporated my business. I have been in business for ten years. This is a legitimate enterprise.”
Self-employed folks who have jumped through the necessary hoops to formally organize their businesses have a tendency to look down their long noses at even the passing thought that someone is a hustler. But as a small business owner or solopreneur, how can you not identify with the idea and lifestyle of the hustler?
I mean, hustling is what we all do. We may package our respective hustles in pretty brochures, outsourced call center voices, and HTML5, but at the end of the day if you’re trading goods for money, what you have going on is a hustle. And that’s a good thing, not a bad one.
So based on absolutely no scientific evidence whatsoever, I am going to decode hustlers for you so you don’t have to go through life foolishly thinking you’re a business person and not a hustler.
The 10 Essential Qualities of a Hustler
- Hustlers are opportunistic. Eccentric go-zillionaire and new school space man, Richard Branson (one of my all-time biggest Capitalist Crushes) said something to the effect that if he can scribble an idea on a napkin and it makes sense (and money, of course), he does it. An opportunity only needs to be profitable to be a good idea. Branson, who heads up Virgin Group (“group” meaning 400+ companies), is worth $5B, according to The Richest. So he knows a little something about hustle.
- Hustlers are results-oriented. Results, results, results. That’s the name of the game for a hustler. Hustlers don’t care how the website looks or if it makes their brand look great. They only care about the bottom line: How much am I going to make off this? Will talking to this person result in a sale? How many sales? How fast can I sell this product compared to my other products?
- Hustlers understand marketing. What makes hustlers so intimidating to most of us is they are experts at human behavior. They can decode and control you (a skill I’m learning now at YouTube University). They seem to instinctively know how to sell you on an idea. Whether by studying human behavior or just by cultivating those skills in their childhood, hustlers know how to position themselves and their products to make you buy.
- Hustlers chase profits. Hustlers aren’t concerned about social enterprise. They don’t care about the mission unless the mission is stacking paper. They understand the core principle of business: You are in business if and only if you have customers and sales. They don’t care about starting a company to represent their business. (You DO know there’s a difference between business and a company, right? I am a firm believer that you shouldn’t even launch a company until you’re doing business.)
- Hustlers effectively manage their inventories. How can a hustler get you what you need every time you need it if he or she can’t keep their products in stock? Mismanaging inventory and not planning ahead tamper with a hustler’s livelihood. They stay stocked.
- Hustlers minimize overhead costs. The smartest moves for most businesses just starting out is to be mobile or home-based. Too often new “companies” who haven’t done much business in their market rush out and get office space or storefronts without first testing their performance in the market. Hustlers know better. They understand that meeting people where they are is far more valuable than being in a storefront and hoping on foot traffic picks up.
- Hustlers understand what their other assets are. You ever notice how hustlers know everybody? That’s because they understand another key principle of doing business: Relationships are even more valuable than money.
- Hustlers understand how to allocate resources. Hustlers don’t typically make statements like, “I can’t pay my mans over here.” Because that “mans” probably works on commission. Strictly. Hustlers don’t waste their time peddling their wares in low-traffic areas like companies do. They don’t stock products they can’t move and if they happen to buy-in on a dud, they get rid of the product quickly. They don’t bellyache and they don’t get romanced into thinking it just needs a little more marketing money behind it.
- Hustlers do and hustlers adapt. Hustlers are quick on their feet. They have to be. But it’s not just about being fast talkers. They also act quickly to seize opportunities and if something isn’t working, they don’t dawdle, they adapt.
- Hustlers work hard. All the time. The first definition that came up during my Google search of the term “hustlers” was this: “An aggressively enterprising person; a go-getter.” Hustlers are just that. They work. They push. They hustle.
Don’t you wish you were a hustler too? Join the hustle movement. Get some.