Smartness vs. Hustling in business


To make the comparison between hustling and smartness, it is crucial to understand their true meaning in the context of business. Smartness is working on careful, weighted, balanced, and thought over strategies. On the other hand, hustling has a more profound meaning and the context varies in different settings. The literal meaning of hustler is taken negatively by those who fail to see it in the context of entrepreneurship. While hustlers in slang refer to those who employ illicit methods to gain money, in enterprising, they are those who are determined to achieve the goals. They will do anything to reach the targets they have set for themselves or their business.

For an entrepreneur, being called a hustler is a compliment because they know that hustling is not just about hard work. It’s about a constant battle that they are fighting on different fronts to achieve results. A hustler drastically seeks improvement on a bad day and tries to do something new and constructive with equal vigor on a good day. In a nutshell, a hustler is always seeking opportunities to grow and advance. While common people see them as greedy, hustlers call themselves ambitious and steadfast on a goal.


Hustling and hardworking: The core differences

A hard worker works day and night to conclude a project successfully following predetermined rules. While a hustler bends the rules to get the same result but in less time and with more convenience. Hustler thinks that bending rules does not equate to breaking them. A hard worker takes studied actions that are historically proven to be effective, a hustler, on the other hand, thinks outside the box and changes strategies in real-time. Hard worker invests conservatively, while hustler invests aggressively. A hard worker makes lists and a hustler grabs the next best thing to do according to the situation. Hard work is a way to reach the finish line but hustling helps you reach there faster. A hard worker works harder when they are not successful, but hustler tactfully changes the methods to approach success.

It can be conveniently established that while hardworking is a trait of an employee, hustling characterizes entrepreneurs and leaders. Hardworking is an all-good, conventional and virtuous attribute in a person, while hustling is clever, and aggressive approach to get things done and makes a person stands out.

If one wants to understand a hustler, then Ray Kroc is the closest example to outline the characteristics. He was not the one who founded McDonald’s, but he is the one who shaped it into a billion dollars’ franchise and brought it here where it is now. Kroc, a milkshake seller at that time, came across McDonald’s as a client, but he left with a vision to develop it into greatness.

Kroc is however considered a villain due to his aggressive takeover, but no one can deny his tenacity and grind towards success. If seen in the light of the corporate landscape, setting aside the downfall of McDonald’s brothers, Kroc was the best thing that happened to this brand. Before Kroc, it was only a burger stand and after Kroc, it developed into a global franchise. He brought his vision to life by being resilient in front of the status quo and treating rejection as a mere hurdle and not a roadblock.

Getting the distinctiveness of hustling out of way and understanding the entrepreneurial concept of hustling, we can make a comparison between a smart person and a hustler.


Hustling vs. smartness

Smartness if not overdone is a good trait. Showing too much smartness in taking an action slows down enterprising. It is acceptable for those who firmly believe that slow and steady wins the race, but the current competitive corporate world needs fast pace and quick decision making. In short new epoch needs quick smartness which is a trait of hustlers.

A big difference between smart entrepreneurs and hustling entrepreneurs is that a smart person weighs the pros and cons of action because they are averse to risks, whereas hustlers are not afraid to take them. However, to avoid failure they tend to not only get the things done, but they make things happen. This quality is a key to an entrepreneur’s success. In fewer words, a hustler has far more propensity to risk than a smart person.

A hustler dreams big. A smart person also pursues dreams but their dreams are constrained by logic and reason. The signs tell us that hustling is half intuitive art and a half crafted trait. Smartness is the capability of understanding the dynamics of conversations. It is about grip and understanding of the cues that are emanated from people’s conversation but a hustler is a permanent student of negotiation and social dynamics.

In a business setting, while smart professionals focus on strategic planning and competitive strategy, hustlers believe in agility, vigor, and tactics. Numerous companies of new corporate landscape dynamically follow a different path instead of going for long-term plans obsessing on what the competitors are doing. These companies have their targets beyond the competition. They move fast to get it and to get it right. In a corporate era when there are no secrets and strategies are being rapidly imitated, hustle is the trait that will lead you to success.

All these make hustling a better attribute than smartness in the business realm. Hustle is a combination of hard work, determination, and smartness itself. It takes time to perfect the art of combining hustling with quick cognitive ability but once mastered, it becomes a deadly weapon in the corporate world.


How to hustle and become a successful entrepreneur

Once it is established that hustling is a far more useful attribute than only smartness, particularly in a business context and because hustling includes the advantages of smartness as well, it is time to focus that how an entrepreneur or manager can hustle to succeed in his career and stand out among the crowd of entrepreneurs.


Go for bigger goals: Hustlers set bold goals even if there is uncertainty and risk in achieving those goals. Then they go beyond limits to achieve them. An indefinite goal mostly does not work out, but making things happen to achieve those goals is hustling. True hustlers never play on the back foot. They come at the front and take the risk to achieve maximum. A smart person on other hand usually sets attainable safe goals. When both types of people achieve their goals then one can observe that hustlers end up with a lot more due to their bigger goals.

Boost your spirits with small victories: Setting big goals is very important but the small victories in the way are also value able. Each small success adds value to your big picture. You get a compliment on a business operation and you made a sale. It is natural to wait for the big victory but a series of small victories will give you the attitude burst to keep rolling.


Promote yourself:

Hustlers believe in making contacts with everyone who can benefit them. To do so, they promote themselves in every possible way. As we have already established that hustlers are not mere hard workers, they have very sharp brains. One can observe that when hustlers promote their start-up, they invest the maximum in the process but on other hand, they also find a balance in the hustle. Instead of slathering social media with accolades, they use the resources to promote their business. They do not hesitate to invest in promotional products for small businesses and work to take their brand identity to the farthest of their potential customers through promotional products and marketing.

Be passionate:

A hustler is a hustler because he is passionate about his enterprise. Hustlers believe in their dream which takes their confidence to a new height. No one can hustle in something which he is not passionate about achieving. Hustlers have a particular mindset that can be achieved with an obsession for your vision. It is difficult to hustle for something that you don’t believe in. Being passionate about your vision makes it enjoyable to work towards its achievement.


Stand against bad criticism:

When you start something new and different, people react. Some will embrace your idea and these are the ones whose criticism you can use to improve your strategies. But there would be haters too whom you will need to brush off. It can be difficult sometimes, particularly when the negative criticism is coming from your family and friends. Instead of reciprocating the negative vibes, just understand that they don’t understand your vision because not everyone has to understand what you are doing and why you’re doing it. As a hustler, you must be so busy working towards success that there should be no time to worry about other people’s opinions.


Make Connections:

As a hustler entrepreneur, you need to increase your people relations. Get connected to as many influential people as possible. Hustlers are very social by nature which works to their advantage. You can strengthen your corporate connections by sending out freebies and promotional products in the industry. If you are an entrepreneur, you cannot be the type of hustler who just shakes down people for their needs. As a hustler who is an entrepreneur, you must treat your connections well and fairly.


Show What You’ve Got:

Be a hustler and be proud of it. Establish your mark in the industry. Make custom workwear for your employees, send them branded in the market. Don’t wait out, get down on the field with gusto, and show your potential to competitors. Only you should know that you are new in the game, but carry yourself like you know your things perfectly well. Showing confidence in your brand by doing things like starting up with custom workwear for your employees and sending out introductory promotional products in the market are important to make a strong impression.


Sharpen your street smarts:

The real-world needs more than intelligence that is gained in the classroom and reflected in degrees. To survive among the corporate sharks, you need to be street smart. The competitors will throw challenges and tactics in your way when you are least expecting it but with your hustling smartness, you should have the ability to turn situations in your favor. Quick decisions and reflexes heavily depend on the level of your street smartness which is the trademark of a hustler.


Knockdown the doors:

Sometimes in the competitive corporate world, the only way to knock down the doors is to blast them down. Set all the hesitations aside and try every means at your disposal to start the business of your dreams. It takes sweaty time to start up your business. One of the incredible examples of such hustling is the story of Ashley Cook & Danielle Dankner. To kick start their clothing line, they got out on a cold call spree. They even knocked at the shop doors with their scarves in hand. The result of such hustling is evident in the story. The two ladies are running more than four stores of their own with a prominent reputed name in the market of clothing and apparel.


Evidence of successful hustling

Many corporate gurus give a high level of significance to smart strategies. They perceive that outdoing competitors requires long-term planning but the strategy is a lot more and a lot less than that. The advocate of long-term strategies, which needs a long time in planning, ignores the importance of energy and hustle. While they are engrossed in strategic planning, hustlers move forward and surprise the world with their steps. There is a large record of successful companies that dynamically practice a different approach. They don’t go for long-term strategic plans but concentrates well on doing things well and on time. Hustle is the strategy that empowers them to move fast and precisely.

The traditional model of the long-term competitive strategy involves erecting barriers and get a competitive edge through big plays which is a fruit of long planning. For instance, Coca-Cola brought New Coke in the competition of Pepsi’s challenge, Apple tried to take over IBM in the office market and Kodak circumvented Polaroid’s patents. However, this strategic big play could not largely reward any of the three companies.

On the other hand, Goldman Sachs is known to earn 400 million dollars in 1983 which was a huge return of 60% on capital. Hustling entrepreneurs of history such as Ivan Boesky, Carl Icahn, and T. Boone Pickens, earned millions of dollars per year, by living one deal to the next. Another example is Morgan Guaranty who is known for earning twice the ROA of other financial institutes regularly while offering similar products and serving similar customers. These high profits largely result from forceful opportunism and superior execution which are traits of hustling, not structural long-term planning.


The bottom line

The importance of hustle cannot be undermined. New York City itself breeds hustler daily. Not just entrepreneurs but from lawyers to artists and street dancers everyone understands that their survival lies in hustling. You can observe them & learn the key traits of a hustler. You will observe that these hustlers can’t afford to dwell on their failures. They get up and strive again.

Hustling doesn’t mean that you will never face failure, in fact as a hustler you should not fear failure. Remember that risk propensity is one of the great traits of hustling. If you fail, own it and bring out something good from it. If hustlers should know how to break a fall then they should also know how to get up again after a fall. Giving up on your vision should not be the part of hustler’s dictionary.

Despite all the talk of getting things done, being a go-getter, improvising, and making connections, in an entrepreneurial landscape, a hustler should believe in doing everything to be successful but doing them with integrity. Integrity is what makes you a human. Hustling can take you to the top of your industry but hustling with integrity will give you peace that cannot be attained otherwise. In a nutshell, get out on the field like a warrior with your custom workwear, promotional products, and a full-throttle brand image, ignore the haters who don’t understand your vision, and adjust your tactics from situation to situation with integrity. Build a business as a hustler and your success will be boundless. Who knows, you might be a role model for other entrepreneurs in the future.



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