Working on a business takes more than just hard work. Hustling is just as important.
But what does hustle mean in business? And how do you know if you are one?
Below are the thoughts of 13 experts.
CEO | Marketing Perfectionist, JoshMeah
Hustle means to work hard relentlessly in the face of discomfort to achieve your goals
In business, the biggest mistake is the assumption that if you’re “hustling” you should also expect fast results, which is not the case. The point is to push, push, and push more — always expecting growth and greater delivery from yourself.
Read related article: Best Productivity and Time Management Books
For me, hustling always results in the same 3 questions: “How else can I contribute? What can I do better? Who can help?”
From a contribution standpoint, I’m in business primarily because I believe in its ability to make a positive impact on the world, and I’m inspired to think that a team of people can collaborate, add value, feed their families and have fun at the same.
From a self-improvement perspective, I know we all have the option to model our own behavior after the “greats” in a respective field and also can make the choice to do things differently from what others are doing.
So, self-improvement is part of the “life hustle” for me. I like trying to get the most out of my experiences and am very appreciative of life.
Finally, I ask myself who else can help, because I know great accomplishments always take more than one person. The best athletes have coaches, the best artists have communities, and the best businesses have teams.
Assembling the right people toward the right goal is a powerful, almost unstoppable force. At this stage in my life, I’m highly motivated by seeing the quality and depth of the team that I can build.
Robert Siciliano, CSP
Security Awareness Expert | CEO, Safr.Me
Hustling isn’t about taking — it’s about doing
Just the other night I was at a networking function and someone was asking what I do and they were somewhat intrigued by my process and we dug deeper into my story.
Towards the end of the conversation I said “what it boils down to is I’m a hustler, I hustle and make money any way I possibly can” and no matter who you say that to they always take it as suspect.
Hustler has a negative connotation. But a hustler can hustle ethically. Hustling isn’t about taking, it’s about doing.
Hustling is really about moving and shaking, about seeking opportunity around every corner, and in every conversation, wherever you can find it.
Hustlers don’t make money in one or two ways, they make money in 5 to 10 or 10 to 15 Ways. Many of those ways complement each other and others don’t at all lots of diverse irons in the fire.
Hustlers see the big picture, but they don’t necessarily have a plan ( or a traditional plan ), they often don’t have an education, but they are street savvy, they are good communicators and they will squeeze a dollar out of a dime.
Hustlers pride themselves in making something out of nothing. They use their raw talents to convert their ideas, life experience and whatever expertise they have into cash.
Hustlers understand and find security in insecurity.
Hustlers are incapable if being managed, punching a clock, or being locked into a schedule. Hustlers are unemployable.
Founder and Director, Talk Travel
A hustler is a person who does not talk about the problems rather the solutions for them
A hustler does not give in easily or does not get bogged down by the problems around him. On the contrary, a hustler tries to make a way out – even though it may be a slow and incremental effort process, but keeps doing so and ultimately ends up achieving the goal.
Normal people say – this is a problem, while a hustler says, “This is the way we can overcome the problem”.
Being a hustler is not an easy task – it requires you to have a very strong will, be extremely positive and have highly committed and disciplined work ethics.
I won’t say I am a perfect hustler, but yes having worked on startups and having bootstrapped them earlier – it has made me not give up easily.
Not that I achieve everything I set my eyes on, but still I give it a good shot, try not to give up easily and try to look for the solutions rather than the problems.
Hustle is about making the best with what you have
It’s about understanding budgetary shortcomings but not letting it stop you from reaching your goal.
It takes nerve and hard work to be a hustler. You can’t worry about what others think but need to listen to your customers as you iterate and adapt.
Hustling is all about adapting to survive quick enough that you can thrive when others are too preoccupied to keep up with the times.
Entrepreneurs who are actually working at their dream every day are hustlers. Teachers doing their best despite school budget cuts are hustlers. Public servants who lack campaign funds but go door to door are hustlers.
John Crossman, CCIM, CRX
CEO, Crossman & Company
Hustle is beyond working hard
During all of my academic years, school was really hard. I was always having to get tutors and get extra help. I felt like an idiot.
My friends were smart and school seemed easy for them but I never got it figured out.
Then, in my early 40’s, I had some health issues and after several months of meetings with my doctor, he told me that (in addition to my health problem) that I was dyslexic. I took some tests and sure enough, I am dyslexic!
So how did I become a success when traditional education was so hard for me?
It was all about hustle baby!
It was doing everything asked of me and then going well beyond. It turned into the ability to seek out future problems, that my bosses had not even thought of yet, and solving those problems.
Hustle is beyond working hard. It is creative problem-solving at a level that most people never get to. People who hustle put the ball in the end zone regardless of the odds.
At the end of the day, I am grateful I am dyslexic and that it created a level of hustle that goes to my core.
A hustler is someone who is driven to excel but who don’t step on others while climbing the ladder of success
It could be that carnival barker with the handlebar mustache and sinister laugh but more times than not, it’s someone who is driven to excel but who don’t step on others while climbing the ladder of success.
For instance, early in my sales career, I had a client who made pizza crusts for schools. It was a husband and wife who spent 18 hours a day making those pizza crusts from scratch.
I used to visit them often and would sometimes put on an apron and help out. I did it because I wanted to prove to them that I genuinely cared about them as people and not just about what I could sell them.
One day the wife, we’ll call her Trudy, pulled me aside and said “A lot of salespeople come in here each day. You are the only one who gives me the same respect they give my husband.”
Technically, Trudy was the president of the company, but she could have been a dishwasher and I’d have treated her the same.
People just want to be treated with respect.
Hustlers know this and incorporate it into everything they do.
Hustlers are driven to succeed.
They’re willing and even eager to do the hard un-glamorous work day-in and day-out because they know that from the work comes the success.
Founder, VOL Homes
To me, a side-hustle is something that you’re doing on the side (in addition to a full-time or part-time job) with the goal of making something more of it, or just making it profitable.
But even before real estate investment, I was flipping graphing calculators on eBay to pay rent while I was in college. I then started flipping real estate on nights and weekends, and slowly began earning more than I would at a full-time job.
My advice for anyone considering a side-hustle would be, “just do it.”
Don’t worry about forming the LLC, getting t-shirts or logos made, just start doing it and talking to people to validate that money can be made.
I flipped 100 houses before I formed an LLC. So to me, a side-hustle is a way of achieving what you want to achieve in life, during the time when others are just relaxing or taking off.
Katie Ziskind, LMFT
Owner, Wisdom Within Counseling
I have hustled to run my own business. I have felt the hustle and I am continuing to hustle!
In February 2018, I quit my job and decided to open my own business. Since then, I have created and manifested a thriving counseling practice.
I have learned all about website design, finances, and being an entrepreneur. I found support listening to podcasts about other private practice owners.
Hustling uses a ton of inner fire and without good self-care, it can leave you exhausted and burned out.
My way of taking care of myself is yoga. After a yoga class, I find myself more creative and come back to my business, and livelihood of income, more refreshed and excited.
Hustling has taken on a new definition now that I’m an entrepreneur. I’m very excited to be expanding into a group counseling practice very soon.
Syed Farhan Raza
Founder, SFR Digital
It’s different for everybody.
What I would say what hustle is to me is to have a passion around something that you would be squeezing every last bit of the juice out of the orange.
Hustle is maximizing the energy you put into something
I’m blown away by people saying that they are hustling and they want to achieve these great things, and then their action don’t match. It’s like saying you want to lose weight while eating a “BigMac.”
For me, hustle would be putting all your efforts into achieving the goal at hand.
For me, that means making EVERY minute count. There’s no hanging out.
Hustle is putting your all in line. It’s all in, emotionally and execution-ally. I don’t remember when did last I took a day off. 100 hours work week are regular for me.
The excitement of checking up the email makes it easy to jump out of bed in the morning. I love speaking to fellow entrepreneurs and prospects bouncing ideas. I can talk about marketing straight for hours.
Dawn Burnett, CSA
Divorce Coach and Wellness Strategist | Founder, A New Dawn Natural Solutions
Yes, I am a hustler. I am from NY so I’m used to a fast-paced lifestyle.
I was raised as a workhorse, always be working the grind and pushing hard to make things happen in life.
I usually have more than one project on the go at a time, I’m constantly emailing and placing phone calls, following up to make things happen, whether it be a book endorsement, a book review, interviews for articles I’m working on, writing music, connecting with major corporations, using social media as a space to connect and get to know people, etc.
As my friends say, “Dawn you always have something cooking (something in the hopper), you never sit idle”.
Carol Gee. M.A.
Author | Founder, A Feast Of Words, LLC
Hustle means doing what you have to obtain something
Be it success, extra money to tide you until payday, beef up your nest egg or to buy something on your wishlist.
I have always been a hustler. For instance, I didn’t enter college for the first time until I was 27 years old. Prior to that, I couldn’t afford it, so it took 8 years of serving in the military and earning education benefits to afford it.
Feeling way behind my peers, I went to school year-round in order to play catch-up. Going to school nights, in between studying I worked as a substitute teacher.
Even after completing a masters and working full time, I taught a night class at the local technical college figuring this would give me teaching experience that might come in handy someday as my husband made the military a career. Which it did.
While stationed in Panama, I taught Applied Management to Army soldiers who were supervisors through a US college that had an overseas branch campus.
Today, although writing full time, I copyedit client manuscripts and research and write business case studies that are taught in business schools throughout the US through my writing service, A Feast Of Words, LLC.
In my spare time, I also do crafts which I sell. Hustling has always played a huge role in my life and helped me offset my full-time career and hobbies.
Author | Entrepreneur
I am somebody who does what they have to do to get the job done.
I am not the kind of person who waits on others to do it for me. Regardless of what it takes I make sure the need is fulfilled.
My ex-husband was not a go-getter. Because of that, he didn’t have a high level of motivation. I found myself having to work 3 jobs while pregnant while he was at home unemployed.
My drive continued as I divorced in 2013, became a published author in 2014 (having now published novels), started my own apparel line in 2017 and host what I call Selfish Women Groups which address the issues of women that affect their ability to practice self-care—all while still working a full-time job and being a single mother.
I don’t call myself a hustler, but I am who I am. I’m someone who makes it happen regardless of the situation.
Public Relations Director, Checkmark Creative
So long story short: I worked for the National Science Foundation making science cool. I got fired for standing up to sexism and my contract was no longer needed.
Well…the idea of jumping back into anything US government-related last year sounded soul-crushing. After going on soooo many interviews in Washington, DC, I just said screw it!
So, I started walking dogs and pet sitting while I began freelancing. In about 1 year, I save up enough money to take my talents to Long Beach, California and run my own creative firm.
I now have my own little studio, a coworking space, and a lovely life, with an 8-minute walk to the beach.
Honestly, the only way I’m here is because I hustled. I may be an elder millennial but this concept that we don’t work is beyond wrong.
I have so many friends/acquaintances who run their own thing and had maybe 5 side hustles before their passion became their sole provider of income.
While my days of scooping poop on the regular are now over, I do still pet sit in the summertime to build a safety net.
I love my life and freelancer freedom to work from anywhere but there is a terrifying realization that one illness or accident could ruin this.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can you hustle when you’re broke?
Hustling when you’re broke can be challenging, but it’s entirely possible. Here are some strategies for developing a hustle mentality when you have a limited budget:
Identify your skills and strengths: Take inventory of your skills, strengths, and interests. Look for opportunities to use those skills to generate income, whether through freelance work, selling products or services, or taking odd jobs.
Start small: You don’t need much money to start hustling. Look for small, low-cost income opportunities, such as selling items you no longer need or providing services for friends or relatives.
Get creative: Think outside the box and explore non-traditional ways to generate income. For example, you could start a blog or YouTube channel, offer an online class, or offer your services as a pet sitter or cleaner.
Network: Building relationships and networks can be essential to developing an entrepreneurial mindset. Look for opportunities to connect with others in your industry or community through online groups, local events, or social media.
Embrace a growth mindset: Part of a growth mindset is embracing challenges and learning from mistakes. By seeing setbacks as opportunities to learn and grow, you can develop resilience and determination to achieve your goals.
Is hustle in business the same as working long hours?
No, hustle in business is not the same as working long hours. While working long hours can be a component of hustle, hustle encompasses more than just the number of hours spent working.
Hustle in business refers to a mindset of consistent effort, hard work, and determination toward achieving one’s goals.
Hustle involves taking the initiative and proactively seeking solutions to problems while working long hours can be more of a passive approach to completing tasks.
Hustle is about being efficient with your time, prioritizing tasks, and consciously working toward goals, while working long hours can sometimes mean working inefficiently or getting bogged down in unimportant tasks.
Also, hustle is not just about working hard; it’s about being creative, innovative, and strategic in your approach to business. It’s about finding new opportunities, building relationships, and constantly learning and growing to succeed.
How can I maintain my hustle mindset despite failures or setbacks?
Maintaining a hustle mindset in the face of failure or setbacks, but it’s essential for long-term success in business. Here are some tips to help you stay motivated and maintain your hustle mindset:
Practice self-compassion: When faced with failure or setbacks, being kind to yourself is crucial. Practice self-compassion by acknowledging that setbacks are a natural part of the entrepreneurial journey.
Focus on learning: Focus on what you can learn from it rather than dwelling on your failures. Use failures as opportunities to reflect on what went wrong and how you can improve next time.
Stay connected: Surround yourself with supportive people who can encourage and advise you when you feel discouraged. Connect with peers, mentors, or other entrepreneurs who have had similar experiences.
Take a break: Sometimes, it helps to take a step back to come out stronger. Take time to re-energize and focus on self-care activities, such as exercising or spending time with loved ones.
Focus on your goals: Remind yourself why you started this journey in the first place, and focus on your long-term goals. Keep your priorities in mind and take small, consistent steps toward them.
Reframe setbacks as opportunities: Use setbacks as opportunities to get creative and try new things. Look at the situation as an opportunity to refocus or develop new ideas.
What are the most common obstacles that can get in the way of developing a hustle mindset?
– Fear of failure or rejection
– Procrastination or lack of motivation
– Perfectionism or an overly critical inner voice
– Lack of clarity or alignment with your goals
– Burnout or fatigue from overwork
– Distractions and interruptions
– Lack of support
– Limited resources
– Negative self-talk
– Lack of self-confidence
By recognizing these obstacles and addressing them, you can more effectively develop a hustle mindset and succeed in your career.
What are the most common misconceptions about hustle in business?
Several common misconceptions about hustle in business can lead individuals to misunderstand or misapply this concept. Here are some of the most common misconceptions:
Hustle equates to long hours: While working hard is a part of the hustle, it is not the only component. Hustle in business is also about being proactive, taking the initiative, and finding creative solutions to problems.
Hustle is about sacrificing personal time: Similarly, hustle in business is not about sacrificing personal time or well-being for the sake of work. In fact, maintaining a healthy work-life balance is essential for long-term success and sustainability.
Hustle is only for entrepreneurs: Although hustle is often associated with entrepreneurship, it can be applied in any career or industry. Whether in a corporate, freelance, or small business, the principles of hustle can help you achieve your goals and stand out in your field.
Hustle means being cutthroat or aggressive: In business, hustle does not mean taking advantage of others. Instead, building relationships and working with others can be an essential part of success.
Hustle guarantees success: While hustle can increase the chances of success in business, it is not a guarantee. Success requires a combination of hard work, strategy, and a little luck.
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