For most people, starting a business means effort. Even if everything goes according to plan, you’ll be busy finding your concept, defining your message, determining your audience, and preparing to launch or scale up. Even if your products and services are an instant hit and you get oversubscribed, there’s still a lot to figure out.
Someone who goes into business with the expectation that it will be a piece of cake could be in for a shock. When they hear their first rejection, they take it personally. When a team member leaves, they worry all night. When their product sells worse than expected or the merchant terminates the contract, or they are unsure whether to hire someone; it would all be news to the entrepreneur expecting an easy ride.
What is an anti-hustle culture?
Anti-hustle culture is a rejection of the idea that entrepreneurs should rush. The grind, working all day, the constant activity glorified in certain entrepreneurial circles and by some prominent entrepreneurs. The buzz fans’ advice is to “go for it, just do it, do what it takes, outdo everyone else, and keep going.” Giving up is for the weak, vacations are for the failed, and you can sleep when you’ve achieved your goals, not before.
Anti-hustle promoters want you to relax, relax and let it be easy. It all sounds great, but there are sinister undertones. While the busy culture can be pushed to its limits, leading to exhaustion, burnout and various health problems, the anti-hustle culture has serious consequences for the budding entrepreneur.
Why is anti-hustle harmful?
Anti-hustle culture doesn’t discourage starting a business, but it discourages many of the practices that contribute to its success. It supports going where your energy flows, leaning away from discomfort and sliding past an easy business life. It views the concept of resilience as toxic and unnecessary and does not advocate perseverance or perseverance in difficult times. If you have to push for something, it’s not your path. If something feels difficult, it means there is another way forward for you.
But here’s the problem. While there is value in parts of the anti-hustle culture; namely prioritizing health and wellness, the broader concept is not helpful to people in their early stages of business. Entrepreneurs use anti-hustle and anti-grind as an excuse for simply not working hard enough to be successful. They run a lifestyle business without the business.
Imagine rejecting the idea of crowds in your first few years. Instead of trying to put yourself out there, show up, be exceptional, and knock door after door until you found your version of business success, you sat back and expected it to show up. Instead of going to networking events, you lay on the beach. Instead of creating a marketing strategy and launch plan, wait for the phone to ring.
The plan is unlikely to work and it’s obvious why. Without the execution needed to get a business off the ground, it would stay there. Without the groundwork in it, the crops don’t appear. Don’t sow, don’t reap.
Starting a business is difficult. Sometimes it feels impossible. There will be times when you want to throw in the towel. But that’s not what entrepreneurs do. They do what it takes to make things work. Sometimes that means getting up early, working late, canceling a party, making calls they don’t want to make, working when they don’t feel like it. This is busy.
Downplay the hard work of the successful
Not only does the anti-hustle culture create the opposite of tenacity and proactivity, it also downplays the success of those who have reaped the rewards of their labor. The early stories of successful entrepreneurs are not those of relaxing and waiting, but of conversation and action. Questioning the way forward, questioning an audience, making requests to unlock opportunities. They took the hard choices to live an easy life, instead of making the easy choices that result in hardship later on.
Preparing for the journey to be challenging and preparing to level up and work through it is much healthier than rejecting all the hustle and bustle. Even those who promote anti-hustle are doing everything they can to get it right. I don’t know a single successful entrepreneur who hasn’t spent a long time trying to get his business off the ground. I know plenty of anti-hustlers who struggle to make a living.
What is the alternative?
Neither crowds nor anti-hust is the solution and there is an alternative. It’s all in the box. Hustle is unhealthy if it is indefinite. When the grind has no purpose, not only will it feel unforgiving, but it will also be untenable. Anti-hustle culture is unhealthy because it underestimates the notion of effort or persistence; both of which are needed in the early stages of business.
A better way of framing is to see your business journey in different stages, start executing. In the execution phase, your goal should be to identify three specific answers. The first is your flagship product or service; that offer you are proud of, that is needed and that solves a specific problem. The second is your target audience; a specific group of people for whom your product or service is perfect, defined by specific characteristics or demographics, and who pay for your product. The third is the medium through which they are reached. Whether it’s networking, Google Ads, your Etsy store, or a referral partner; define this channel in the first stage of the business.
Establishing these three things is the foundation of a successful business. The truth is that defining them usually takes a lot of time and effort, often with no apparent reward in sight. This is the grind entrepreneurs talk about. This is where hustling takes you further and faster and sets you apart from other start-ups that don’t put in the same effort.
When these three factors are established and your business is making money, you have proven that your product fits the market. Instead of lingering here forever, take a small step back to gain perspective on your business. Set a milestone. Write it down, fix it in place, work towards it without the goalposts moving. Reaching this milestone completes your execution phase. Your hassles worked, your efforts paid off, and now you have options for where to go. You can rent, outsource or automate. You can systemize your business so that it runs like a machine. You can rest before hitting another milestone after your last sprint, or you can sit back and let the money flow.
Giving the crowds a purpose makes hard work feel more like playing a challenging game. Instead of a loss of freedom and a large investment of time, you see yourself as solving puzzles, directing traffic and cracking the code of product market fit. The effort is exciting, the days are varied and winning means even more.
Indefinite, ego-driven busyness isn’t the answer, but anti-busyness isn’t either. An exceptional execution phase, with specific actions and a clear goal, can lead to a successful business and a happy life.