I recently watched the movie, The Pursuit of Happyness, but this isn't the first time I've watched it. Inspired by true events, this movie sets the tone for a pinnacle of success the protagonist, Chris Gardner (played by actor Will Smith), achieves after going through a series of failures and struggling as hard as any entrepreneur would.
While the movie paints a stark contrast in his personal and professional life, there is a display of true grit that is very apparent throughout this movie. It was something that resonated with my thoughts of how hustling should be the key trait every entrepreneur, aspiring or otherwise, should have.
While the world was blown away with Will Smith's acting and the hardships Chris Gardner went through in real life, it isn't an uncommon feeling for a lot of folks in India who'd have gone or seen similar hardships and are striving for glory each day.
Today's generation of entrepreneurs in India isn't just about the folks who struggle hard to make two ends meet, it's more than the stereotypical facade the country has.
There is a lot of empowerment and awareness within India and that is what drives people to create the startups here. And, of course, the art of "jugaad" (translated as "lean innovation") or the beauty of hustling is commonly represented in India more than anywhere else in the world--not because it is an Indian stereotype, but because these are the stories that have and will inspire the world in an uncommon way every now and then.
So a question I ask myself always is, what does "hustling" mean? What would you describe within an entrepreneur to drive this trait and how does it benefit them as entrepreneurs. The answer as much as I'd like it to be isn't simple. It is a subjective way of looking at a multiple things within many different facets of any entrepreneur.
Having interacted and worked with a few of those entrepreneurs in India's tech sector, I'd like to share some thoughts which I think are important elements to help you become the 'hustler' one who will do whatever it takes, whatever it takes, to make you venture successful and drive toward solving the problem you're aiming to solve.
What does hustling mean to an entrepreneur?
The minute the idea becomes part of a journey the entrepreneur is sure of, he would embrace it with full acceptance, and start figuring out ways and means to drive that idea to become a reality. All it needs is a spark, a spark of hunger and aspiration that will give him or her the faith that this will be a fruit of success for a long haul.
Hustling begins right with the aspect of figuring out how entrepreneurs will start working on their idea. If they are coders themselves, they would start building the prototype or for that matter create a wire frame of his product. If they aren't, they'll find similar hustlers of their kind who could share this dream with them.
To the entrepreneur, hustling means to start that journey no matter what. Of course there will be number of obstacles that will come his or her way. But the fact to the matter is, the first step they've taken to start this journey indicates the hustle begins right there while making these choices. Trying to figure out how feasible the idea is, getting all his research right to actually detail his demographics, and identifyng if there is a market or not. If not, then how does he go about creating that market are some things that will become a part of his journey later on.
The major hustle begins when he makes that choice and accepts that no matter what, even his personal life, nothing will be an obstacle to fulfilling his entrepreneurial dream. These will be some of the major things that would actually drive the entrepreneur toward his first few steps of his journey.
Why does an entrepreneur hustle?
One of the primary factors driving an entrepreneur to go through all the hustle and hardships, some may say, is money. Well, it isn't that anymore, as you would have known, with many a entrepreneurs failing day in day out and yet holding pride in their eyes of being that entrepreneur.
A lot of the drive to hustle isn't what an entrepreneur may always want. Who wouldn't want glory and success right at the get-go. But, this breed is certainly different. Taking one sprouting idea and making that idea into a dream that comes true and earns him recognition and success is what drives the entrepreneur to hustle. The fact that his idea solves many problems and his product becomes a tool a necessity for many is what drives an entrepreneur to hustle. Of course, we all know today's entrepreneurs as rockstars and geeks who are changing the world like never before, but that isn't what just drives today's entrepreneur.
Coming up with products and ideas that actually help solve problems for ordinary people or major corporations and businesses is what gets them motivated more than the lure of money and fame. He realizes if this idea breaks new grounds, his name would of course be etched in time. More importantly, the impact he makes would be amplified to a level which may eventually be larger than his control.
A startup idea larger than life or as simple as solving menial problems for consumers will developed without any hesitation, just to ensure it means something to the people whom it is helping out. It's a dream that is more important than anything else. The focus, the view toward their goal and the eternal desire to make good of all their dreams is why an entrepreneur hustles.
How does an entrepreneur hustle?
In the movie, we see incidents at numerous times that occur beyond Gardner's control. There are many things he regrets in the past and tries to redeem himself. For example, the scene where he locks himself and his kid up inside a subway toilet just to get the warm shelter, or where he donates blood to get money in order to repair his equipment and sell it. There are many such occasions in the movie where the character has no other option but he still keeps going strong and figures out a way to make things happen.
In a similar way, every entrepreneur makes those choices. One of the biggest things that makes an entrepreneur a hustler is the fact that he is ready to make those choices and take decisions boldly, and these are choices which can decide if his startup succeeds or fails. The true hustler is one who'll go ahead and always keep looking toward the future. Some of his mistakes may cost him dearly, but with those mistakes he gets the vision to know what the future holds for him or her.
So throughout the journey, all small things and small decisions--no matter how insignificant they are--contribute toward the making of a hustler within an entrepreneur. The design of the company or product logo, the seating arrangement in their new office, the forming of their startup culture, the interviewing of the core team and employees, figuring out various tools to make his pitch more effective, the long hours and nights in the office or coffee shops, the constant follow-ups with venture capitalists, banks or other sources of funding they choose, the constant follow-up with potential clients, customers and consumers, the constant talking with people to get reviews on their product, and a lot of such efforts entrepreneurs put in is what defines how they hustle.
As a traveler, one always keeps saying: "It's never the destination, but the journey that matters." This holds true for entrepreneurs too. But as a hustler, at the end of the day, what is more significant is where they began and what they achieved while getting to their destination.
It's the hustler inside that makes them a true entrepreneur after all.