Going to work every day and putting in an honest day’s work is not enough. That most likely is what your competitors are doing, and it will seldom lead to dramatic growth. In fact, the average worker admits to wasting three hours per eight-hour workday, not including lunch and scheduled breaks. Your goal should be to pack eleven hours of work into an eight-hour day—and you need for this mindset to permeate your entire organization so that everyone is “rowing the boat” at the most rapid pace as possible. I have seen some organizations implement a marketing plan in three months while others have taken years to implement a similar plan. Can you guess which business achieved more dramatic growth?
Merriam-Webster’s online thesaurus defines “hustle” in several ways: “to devote serious and sustained effort,” “to proceed or move quickly,” and “to rob by the use of trickery or threats.” The third definition is obviously not advisable and is far from what I am talking about here, but the first two definitions are spot on. Hustling is the act of making every moment count and seizing every opportunity, and it is a key ingredient for organizations to achieve both rapid and sustained growth. Successful companies are those filled by people who are always finding solutions to problems and are always looking for the next steps for improvement.
It’s also interesting to note that seldom is there a paragraph, let alone a chapter, in academic books on marketing about the importance of energy and hustle. Those books espouse Michael Porter’s virtues of the five forces of competitive advantage and diagram the development of a killer strategic plan, but they overlook the intangible traits, such as hustle, that many successful entrepreneurs attribute as the key ingredient in their companies’ short-term and long-term success. These business owners concentrate on operating details, shortening go-to-market lead times, and removing any impediments to growth. Hustle is their style, and although they may not get everything right, they fail quickly when they do fail – which is as important as growing quickly.
HUSTLE STARTS WITH YOU
Dramatic growth has a far greater likelihood of happening if all members of your organization are rowing at a faster pace than the other boats in the water are going, and senior leadership sets that pace. You have the power to set the pace of your business, and you must set that bar high.
This starts with you. Are your days optimized and your schedule full? Are you starting each day either on a business call or at breakfast with a potential prospect or existing client? By setting the right example, you lead those under you to do the same. Too often, I see business owners enjoying extended lunch breaks and leaving early to go to the gym— while wondering why their businesses are not growing as quickly as they would like. The answer is simple: They need to refocus on growing their business and spend those extra hours ensuring that the company is running well on all cylinders.
Speeding up a company culture may not happen overnight, but as long as you lead by example and help your fellow leaders to do the same you can expect above-average growth. Your team should squeeze every moment out of the day, focusing on work that creates tangible progress for the company. This means eliminating thirty-minute meetings that should take only ten minutes and planning your schedule for the upcoming week on Sunday night instead of Monday morning. I see many people who convince themselves that they are working hard when they really are not. Those business owners who hustle don’t rely solely on traditional marketing tactics (e.g., email, paid search, and SEO) or a sales team to drive their companies’ growth, but rather they are constantly innovating, thinking of new markets to enter, exploring partnership opportunities, and networking in the appropriate business circles.
Who you bring to your team matters as well. You need to ensure that your senior leaders hire managers and employees who share their same ambition and grit. Hustle can be taught by example, but it is much more difficult without a base of passion and drive. Ultimately, an employee with average intelligence and hustle will outperform one who is brilliant but complacent.
DON’T MISTAKE HUSTLE FOR SPEED ALONE
Of course, hustle must be paired with attention to detail and superior execution. Speed of execution is wasted if it is at the cost of quality. For example, writing a document ten minutes faster does not save time when it then requires twenty extra minutes of editing. Even worse, you may end up hustling in the wrong direction if you do not closely monitor your progress and results. The most successful people work fast whenever possible while keeping close to the details at all times.
The combination of superior execution and hustle is what truly fuels growth. Implement your marketing plans and initiatives both rapidly and well. If you recall, hustling entails both sustained effort and quick movement—and each is equally important. If you let an obsessive dedication to growth fuel superior work, you will soon hustle your way to success.
The hustle starts with you. In order for your company to achieve dramatic growth, you must be prepared to put in the hours and energy to make it happen. Make sure that your days are optimized and your schedule full. Set your goals high, and hold yourself accountable for meeting specific goals in various time frames in order to see and be motivated by your continuous progress. Know your one-year goal, quarterly goal, monthly goal, weekly goal, and daily goal, and then put in place an implementation plan and milestones so that you and your team can work to achieve each one of them with the vigor and passion that the plan demands.