As an entrepreneur, you’ve probably dealt with your fair share of failure. It’s the name of the game, and often inevitable. However, there is an attribute that is completely in your control that you are capable of honing. What is this attribute that can mean the difference between failure and success? Hustle. But if you’re not a natural one, how can you mold yourself into being a great hustler?

What is a Hustler?

When you hear the word hustler (especially outside Silicon Valley) does it bring negative connotations to mind? You might picture a guy in a dark pool hall downplaying his skills until he puts up a large bet and suddenly flaunts his talent, hustling his opponents. There are a number of negative images of hustling like drug dealers, rigged carnival games, or street vendors selling illegal goods.

Yes, all of these situations are examples of hustling, but … hard-working people are hustlers, too. Hustling, depending on your means and motivation, isn’t always a bad thing.

Your Startup Needs a Hustler

In fact, in terms of your startup’s success, I want you to think of hustling as a great thing. Think of athletes sacrificing their bodies to make the tough play or putting in endless hours at the gym to improve their game.

Hustlers go all out every day, pushing past their breaking point. Even when they are exhausted, hustlers never quit doing the hard work, putting in the long hours others won’t. Hustlers always work to better themselves, and the hustle is what separates the champions from the losers.

Hustling is an art form

It’s earning or making something from seemingly nothing by maintaining the mindset of a go-getter. While hustling gets a bad rap from the criminal acts it’s often associated with, it’s not a crime. Hustlers don’t wait for success to come to them; they go out and get it for themselves.

In entrepreneurship, hustling means doing whatever it takes, legally, for your startup to be successful. If you’re not sure how to start honing your hustler status, start by following these ten practices.

1. Never Lean Back

A hustler always pursues progress and constantly works to get things done. One way to learn to become better than you currently are is by setting bold goals. Set goals that are uncertain and a little scary. An uncertain goal might not work out, but working toward something that is not a foregone conclusion is all part of the hustle. Setting an audacious goal and doing everything you can to make sure it gets reached is a sign of a true hustler.

By never leaning back, you aren’t tempted to halt your pursuit of perfection. It’s not so much about feeling like you never have enough as it is about working to improve yourself and your startup everyday.

2Promote Yourself

Self-promotion is a necessary part of being a hustler. There is a balance to find in this hustle between complete humbleness and being a jerk in self-promotion. While you don’t need to plaster your social media and blog with personal accolades, you do need to be dedicated to promoting your startup by telling people what you are up to.

You’ll want to show confidence in your startup’s successes. It’s hard to hustle in something you don’t believe in, so don’t be afraid of self-promoting and showing your belief in yourself and your startup.

4. Don’t Fear The Critics

Putting yourself out there is a risk. Be ready for haters and don’t let them slow you down. One characteristic of hustlers is their ability to brush off criticism and rejection without getting embarrassed or upset. In fact, you need to be completely indifferent to the haters.

As a hustler, you have to answer even negative emails, respond to harsh critics, and make sales pitches to investors who seem less than interested. It’s all part of doing everything you can to make your startup work. No matter what you do, you’re going to have to deal with critics, but if you want your startup to be successful, you have to ignore the haters.

While you might find it easy to ignore the critics when they are practically strangers, sometimes the critiques come from the people we love and trust like our family and friends. They may not understand why you are doing what you’re doing, and they may not share your vision – and they don’t have to.  However, this can be a difficult situation, since you likely care about what they think of you, and you may even find yourself giving in to their point of view. As hard as it is, you have to move past them as well.

Hustlers are able to ignore negative feedback, bad advice, and even criticism from loved ones. As a hustler, you should be so busy doing the work it takes to be successful that you don’t have time to be worried about how other people, both strangers and family, view you.

5. Make Connections

The saying “It’s all about who you know,” holds a lot of truth in relation to startups. As a hustler, you need to make connections with many people in many industries to get your startup out there and help ensure its success. By nature, hustlers tend to be very social, which is beneficial to the business aspect of your startup.

While you can use your connections to sell your product or service, don’t forget that some give needs to accompany the take. Use your connections as your go-to source for buying what you need for your startup, and the symbiotic relationships will benefit everyone involved.

As an entrepreneur, you can’t be the type of hustler that just shakes people down for what you need. Understand how to treat people well, be genuine in your relationships, and treat your connections fairly.

6. Take What You Need

If you can’t get what you need, you might be forced to take it. That’s essentially the main characteristic of a hustler: going out and getting what they need. However, in the startup world, it’s going to be a little more difficult than just grabbing and going. It will likely take a lot of hard work. You might need to ask friends and family for help or even make cold calls.

7. Show What You’ve Got

People should know what you’re capable of and fear your potential, but do it in a way that keeps you approachable. Be aware of the situation and know when is the right time to use your killer instinct.

8. Carry Yourself with Confidence

Yes, the fact that you are working for the success of a startup means you probably haven’t been in the game for long. However, you should carry yourself like you’ve been at it for years. Showing confidence is especially important for making good first impressions. Carry yourself well and dress to impress to let people know you are ready to hustle.

Even if you know you might not be the best man for the job, others don’t need to know it as well. Conduct yourself with confidence without being overly cocky. As a hustler, you need to be confident in dealing with others, and you will likely have to take charge of the situation to make sure things get done.

Don’t be afraid to be the Alpha and control the outcomes of certain situations and meetings.

9. Hone Your Street Smarts

You may have been a star student, but out in the real world, you need more than book smarts. As a hustler, you need to have street smarts as well. Trying to run a successful startup means you’re going to be faced with many unexpected situations and challenges.

Many of these situations will require quick decisions and reactions to keep your startup successful. You will begin to have quicker reactions – which rely heavily on street smarts.  By taking the time and the challenge to hone those skills, you will be much better at reacting to those unscripted moments – which is another mark of a great hustler.

10. Never Make Excuses

If you want to be a great hustler, you are not going to be able to let off the gas; you will have to outwork everyone else. A successful startup requires much more than a nine to five schedule. Prepare to burn the midnight oil in order to see your startup be successful.

We mentioned at the start that talent and luck are typically out of your control. However, you might find that as you work harder and hustle more, your luck starts to improve, and you learn to work smarter.

Even if you become a great hustler, you’re not guaranteed to be faced with failure. If you do fail, take responsibility for it. You are hustling for one purpose, and that purpose is to have a successful startup. Failure should not be an option and you definitely shouldn’t make any excuses for your failure. 


Maintain the mindset of a hustler at all times. Be obsessed with it, do whatever it takes, and believe in what you are offering. If you’re not obsessed with becoming a great hustler, then you will never truly be one. It’s hard to hustle for something you don’t believe in, so believe in your product or service and its ability to solve the consumer’s problem.

In order to be a great hustler, you need to enjoy doing it, even when it gets hard. By believing in and enjoying what you are doing, it makes it that much easier to get up every day and hustle even harder to reach your goals and startup success.



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