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Hustlers vs Entrepreneurs: Which One Are You?

| February 27, 2012 | 38 Comments

Hustlers vs Entrepreneurs.  The two are pretty much the same thing, right? Wrong!  While I would say that it is pretty safe to assume that most entrepreneurs are natural hustlers, I would also say that most hustlers will never become entrepreneurs.  You see, hustlers are missing a few things that entrepreneurs seem to have discovered.

First of all, hustlers lack any real long term vision.  A car salesman is a hustler, the car dealership owner is an entrepreneur.  A person who flips real estate is a hustler, the person who owns apartments and collects cashflow is an entrepreneur. Capital Gains versus Appreciation and cashflow. The guy who sells you stocks is a hustler, the guy whose stock he’s selling because he just had an IPO is an entrepreneur. A consultant and the guy who owns the consulting company. Highest tax bracket versus lowest tax bracket (or even no tax bracket), you get the idea.  A hustler must continue hustling or his income will suffer.  An entrepreneur can pick and choose when to hustle and when to strategize for the future.  Both are after the same thing, financial freedom and wealth, but unfortunately only one will actually accomplish that.  1099 vs Schedule K-1, all you entrepreneurs already know what that means.

Hustling should be a means to an end, not the end itself.  Like I said before, most entrepreneurs were (and actually still are) hustlers, they just evolved and converted their hustle into a system that can attract other hustlers to work in for them.  Making the next sale is what is important to a hustler, building a company and leading his team is what the entrepreneur is focused on.  The entrepreneur builds the system that the hustler works in. Being a hustler is not bad, but for a hustler to not evolve into an entrepreneur is a sad shame.  Sometimes entrepreneurs fall back into the hustler mentality.  Maybe the company had a rough quarter and long term aspirations must be sacrificed in order to make payroll and pay the bills.  Sometimes the entrepreneur may feel that shortcuts need to be made in order to meet short term goals.  I am an entrepreneur that occasionally falls back into “hustler mode”.  If this happens to you too, don’t worry about it too much, just recognize it for what it is, deal with your immediate issues, and then become an entrepreneur again by focusing on long term vision.  Build a better system for that particular issue so that you don’t fall back into this short-sighted thinking (at least for that particular issue) again.  When an entrepreneur is building a startup, he must hustle, but he knows that he must hustle on building his system so he can hire other hustlers to work in the system.  This is why the first year of running a business is critical, you will either develop the system and evolve to becoming an entrepreneur, or you will forever be a hustler.  Mom and Pop store versus Corporation.

At the root of the hustler-entrepreneur dilemma is that one focuses on himself while the other focuses on others.  Being an entrepreneur requires massive humility.  To him, brand equity matters more than a quick buck or commission.  This is where customer service comes into play.  Take, for example, Zappos and a hustler-owned online (or offline) shoe merchant.  Both may carry the same shoes, however, only one has the brand equity required to get away with charging more than the other.  Brand equity, word of mouth, creating a culture of happiness, these are all long term, entrepreneurial assets that Zappos carries over their hustler competitors.  When Zappos screws up an order, they are known to send flowers, gift certificates, or even hand deliver their shoes themselves!  When a hustler screws up an order he moves on to the next customer, leaving the previous one with a bad experience.  You see, the hustler put the almighty dollar ahead of his customer. Having humility, building a system that creates brand equity , these are strange concepts for a hustler who has bills to pay TODAY.  Short term satisfaction is chosen over long term brand building.

The difference between the two examples is “me” versus “my customers”.  Zappos probably loses money on that customer that they just tried to keep happy, but they don’t care because they know it will pay off in the future. Certainly a hustler can make a good (even great) living, but an entrepreneur can achieve financial independence and separate his time from his money-making ability.  A hustler remains prisoner to his own system, and once he stops hustling, he stops earning.  An entrepreneur, once he has built his own system, is able to walk away from it, come back many months later, and find it doing better than before he left.  It is not difficult to see who will reach financial freedom under this model.

I am an entrepreneur with many hustler tendencies who occasionally loses sight of his long-term vision, but always recognizes that and is able to readjust his vision.  I am on a mission to constantly evolve as an entrepreneur, build sustainable business systems, and hire the best hustlers to work for me.  If you are a great hustler, feel free to email me your resume.

Dan Sfera blogs on his own website DanSfera.com

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Category: Personal Branding, Startup Advice

  • http://entrepreneurialambitions.com/ Yura Bryant

    I believe that being an entrepreneur and hustler are one in the same. As an entrepreneur you have to keep that hustler’s instinct or else you will become complacent and become lost in the competitive business environment. I believe you can hold charateristics of both the entrepreneur and hustler and still succeed in building upon a long-term vision. I guess it just all dependent on the person and how they structure their goals and operational endeavors that lead towards their desired objective.

    entrepreneurialambitions.com

  • http://entrepreneurialambitions.com/ Yura Bryant

    I believe that being an entrepreneur and hustler are one in the same. As an entrepreneur you have to keep that hustler’s instinct or else you will become complacent and become lost in the competitive business environment. I believe you can hold charateristics of both the entrepreneur and hustler and still succeed in building upon a long-term vision. I guess it just all dependent on the person and how they structure their goals and operational endeavors that lead towards their desired objective.

    entrepreneurialambitions.com

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    I think you need to be both a hustler and a visionary.  If you have the vision, you can hustle your way there.

    Hustling doesn’t necessarily mean seeking short term cashflow–it means doing whatever it takes to build your business, hopefully with the end goal in mind.  Hustling is about putting in the work, grinding it out, and being resourceful.

    I think saying that hustlers lack any long term vision is short-sighted in itself.  Gary V? Mark Cuban? Richard Branson? All hustlers from a young age–all long term visionaries. 

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    I think you need to be both a hustler and a visionary.  If you have the vision, you can hustle your way there.

    Hustling doesn’t necessarily mean seeking short term cashflow–it means doing whatever it takes to build your business, hopefully with the end goal in mind.  Hustling is about putting in the work, grinding it out, and being resourceful.

    I think saying that hustlers lack any long term vision is short-sighted in itself.  Gary V? Mark Cuban? Richard Branson? All hustlers from a young age–all long term visionaries. 

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  • http://www.facebook.com/dansfera Dan Sfera

    Thanks Matt and Yura,
    as for Gary v, Mark Cuban and them, they were hustlers that evolved into entrepreneurs.  I would say that a pure hustler is still short termed as far as vision is concerned.  The examples you cited are regarding entrepreneurs who hustle hard..big difference.

  • Curtis Szajkovics

    Great Article.
    I think that the difference between a hustler and entrepreneur comes down to purpose. I think of the hustler as a used car salesman. The guy who will do anything for a quick buck. 

    But entrepreneurs hustle with a purpose. They want to create something and will do anything it takes to realize their vision, and it’s not always about money (just most the time :-P ).

  • Curtis Szajkovics

    Great Article.
    I think that the difference between a hustler and entrepreneur comes down to purpose. I think of the hustler as a used car salesman. The guy who will do anything for a quick buck. 

    But entrepreneurs hustle with a purpose. They want to create something and will do anything it takes to realize their vision, and it’s not always about money (just most the time :-P ).

  • http://twitter.com/ColorTheGlobe .com Seeks Investors

    Thank you, very helpful, what I took from this is: keep sight of the big picture!

  • http://revplace.com/ Aaron Wright

    This article reminds me of one of Robert Kiyosaki’s books (I forget which one) where he draws a distinction between business owners and entrepreneurs.  He says that business owners are the mom and pop owners, the freelancers, the people who are really just employees without a boss. If they stop working, their income stops. Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, are the ones who can take that source of income and “thread the needle”, as he puts it. They can automate and streamline the system, giving them the freedom to step back and let the money machine run itself. So if you want to go from business owner to entrepreneur, all you have to do is thread the needle.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dansfera Dan Sfera

    thanks Aaron, Robert K is one of my influences. thanks for reading.

  • http://www.facebook.com/AndrewLStanley Andrew Stanley

    What a great article!  

    There is a major difference between the two and it’s great to see someone actually point those differences out!  It’s articles like these that keep me coming back to under30CEO.  

    A. 

    http://www.spokesme.com 

  • http://www.facebook.com/dansfera Dan Sfera

    thanks for finding it useful Andrew

  • http://www.facebook.com/dansfera Dan Sfera

    hustle with a purpose. i like that. thanks Curtis

  • http://www.facebook.com/dansfera Dan Sfera

    Hustlers, thats if youre still living, get on down!

  • http://www.facebook.com/dansfera Dan Sfera

    Hustlers, thats if youre still living, get on down!

  • Eusebio M Mazyopa

    The article is Great and have learnt alot from it.most people dont differentiate between Hustler and Entrepreneur.

  • http://twitter.com/KaTrina_PR KaTrina Harrison

    Loved this article.

  • Rjuliej

    All entrepreneurs have some “hustler” in them but, not all hustlers have true entrepreneurship in them.

  • Anonymous

    I love this article and the idea that I got the point :) It sounds that a hustler cares about the tactics, meanwhile the entrepreneur is all about long-term strategy. Is that right?

  • Anonymous

    I love this article and the idea that I got the point :) It sounds that a hustler cares about the tactics, meanwhile the entrepreneur is all about long-term strategy. Is that right?

  • http://webdesy.com/ Kenneth von Rauch

    It looks that you got it right, Alex. A real entrepreneur is more like a general,whereas a hustler is more like a private. It really looks like that to me :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/dansfera Dan Sfera

    yup, long term vs short term is my general premise.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dansfera Dan Sfera

    yup, long term vs short term is my general premise.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dansfera Dan Sfera

    exactly!

  • http://www.facebook.com/dansfera Dan Sfera

    thanks

  • http://www.facebook.com/dansfera Dan Sfera

    thanks, thought it was a good topic!

  • http://www.facebook.com/dansfera Dan Sfera

    thanks, thought it was a good topic!

  • Lord Xazo

    I love this article….nice

  • Lord Xazo

    I love this article….nice

  • kennboy1

    I agree, hustle is basically grinding, doing what you need to do, but when people combine that with long term vision and better strategy, you become an entrepreneur, is what I think what this article is trying to say. Good article though, it has some points, good examples as well.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/XR3PHF4M2KUWS542TUGYJ5CUQQ marcus

    This article really breaks it down for me. Its amazing how reading one article like this can have such an impact on a person’s life. 

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  • http://www.facebook.com/dansfera Dan Sfera

    glad you liked it, feel free to connect with me

  • http://www.facebook.com/wesley.fitts Wesley Fitts

    Some thoughts are your article. I enjoyed reading it and I wanted to contribute to the conversation. Some thoughts

    – To attract hustlers to work for you must first be a hustler ~ Like attracts like

    -If your end game is to evolve your hustle into a system that attracts hustlers to work for you and build your brand. Then the same framework and evolutionary path must be made available to the hustlers who work for you as well.

    ~ Otherwise, the hustler in them will evolve as well without you and you enable and train future competitors.

    - Built into the fabric of your business systems has to have a path for the hustlers you attract to evolve as you have, and to become Entrepreneurs.

    A true hustler is always looking to elevate his game, and take it to the next level – dig the well for him before he ever gets thirsty. Create a path for them as well, and IMO you will lead a team of entrepreneurs in building your brand equity together.

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  • Luis A.

    I think that if you are a hustler or an entrepreneur, or bussiness owner, or whatever, either way you have to work your ass off. I do also believe that being and entrepreneur is the ultimate goal, going through being a hustler, business owner, employee, are stages to get to the top, and if you keep working hard you’ll be a entrepreneur. One great example I always try to keep track of is 50Cent.

    Great article, eye opening, thanks!