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Hustle Doesn’t Make a Startup Successful – Strong Focus Does

hustle startup success

As a user of social media and online marketing, it has been fascinating to me to see the emergence of ideas that will “drive success.” On one hand, you have Gary Vaynerchuk, who has a massive focus on hustling, giving things 100 percent, and working hard. On another extreme we have the constant promotion of “life hacks”, and Tim Ferris with his “four hour workweek.” What is the right answer?

In my experience, and in the experience of countless other successful entrepreneurs and business leaders, there is a formula for business success, and it goes something like this:

1. Have a Great Business Idea

2. Have a Plan for Executing and Building Your Business

3. Set Goals and Key Milestones to Measure Your Results

4. Build a World-Class Team

5. Execute Like Crazy and Work Hard to Win

6. Find Ways to Improve the Productivity of Your Team and Yourself

7. Constantly Be in Learning Mode

8. Find Non-Destructive Ways to Stay Fresh and Recharge Your Batteries

9. Repeat

Working Hard and Hustling

I remember my coaches in little league baseball yelling at me, “Hustle!” This isn’t the hustle of scamming someone, this is the hustle of running your hardest and fastest. In this context, there was a goal: get around the bases as fast as you can without getting thrown out, with the ultimate objective of scoring a runs.

I am personally a proponent of working hard and hustling. However, hard work alone will not lead to success in business. My dad is one of the hardest working people that I know, and he had limited career success. Although he was able to provide a middle-class lifestyle to his family, he never achieved wealth or personal financial security. Yet, there is no substitute for working hard in business success.

Working Smart and Focusing

Working smart is also essential for business success, but it is not a substitute for hard work. Look at any athlete, business leader, or entrepreneur that has achieved sustained success over any reasonable length of time, and you will find someone that works hard and smart. Businesses who are starting out or new to online marketing will need to find a way in that works for them and brings up their page in the SERP, they will need to keep going to find ways to help with their progression. For example, if you are a bail company, you will research marketing ideas for bail companies or SEO strategies for bail bondsmen, and so on. Instead of trying to appeal to a wide audience, you hone in on one particular area and work that angle in the best way possible to yield those results.

How do you know if you’re working smart? As an entrepreneur, you understand your business objectives and you set goals. The goals need to be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, results-oriented, and time-bound). Then, you need to focus on. You need to ask yourself every day and every hour if the stuff that you are doing is in alignment with your goals or not. If it is, then you are working smart. If it is not, then you can work extremely hard and not accomplish much business success.

Does that mean that you can never have fun, and never have any recreation? Not at all. Having downtime is part of a smart plan, but you should also find work that you love so that you can find fun at work if you want to be successful in business.

Just because you might have the greatest business idea does not mean that you will have a successful business, this is something that comes from working hard and working SMART. You need to know things like how to promote your business – e.g. will you make use of things like a custom water bottle (off sites like Or will you use social media to your advantage? Social media does seem to be the way forward these days, so it might be worth looking into that as a new business owner. Social media marketing is used by the biggest companies to promote their products to much bigger audiences around the world. Perhaps smaller businesses should do this too. To create content, businesses will need to set up a social media page. Many businesses find that Instagram works best for this as people can see the products. It can take a while to build your Instagram followers without using a website like nitreo to buy some followers first (learn more about buying followers here). That can kickstart your profile, encouraging others to follow your Instagram and view your products. Social media marketing is one of the best ways for small businesses to grow these days. However, it’s up to you if you want to use social media or not. Whatever you decide to do though, you need to make sure that it works for your business, you need to spend thinking about this before you commit to anything. Focus on what your business is and what product you offer and then think about what will work best for you and your business.

Working Productively and Hacking

I also believe in finding ways to enhance your productivity, but don’t find that life hacks are a substitute for working long hours. I also think that universal batching, universally turning-off alerts, and ignoring the news, are some of the dumbest business ideas of our decade. You don’t put your customers or employees into a pile and address things as you have time. Please, be a little smarter than that!

The Essential Nature of Goals and Focus

In my experience, nothing much positive happens in this life unless you are goal-oriented and driven toward success and achievement. You need to have goals and you need to have a plan. Of course, you will make changes and adjustments as circumstances unfold, but that is not an excuse to not have a plan. A focus on winning is essential in a successful business venture, and in order to measure if you are winning, you need to have goals and set milestones that you can measure.

In our culture today, the culture of busyness, everyone is overwhelmed. I understand the temptation to find and create life hacks that simplify this. We used to call it “finding ways to be more productive.” However, what I have found to be the formula to success in business and entrepreneurship is to work hard, work smart, and constantly look for ways to be more productive. You can’t leave out any part of this. See yourself as a smart work machine. How much smart output can you create in the least amount of time. Your goal is to not only beat your competition, but to crush your competition. You want to beat your competition so badly that you not only leave them in your dust, but they can’t even see your dust.

This is Patrick Henry, CEO of QuestFusion, with The Real Deal…What Matters.

This article originally appeared in Inc Magazine.