(Firstly, yes, I realize I can't write an Op-Ed on this blog as i'm the owner and only contributor. Nevermind that part).
Let's talk about the 'Hustle' mentality. Let's play some music to set the tone (mostly because I like the song).
So for those not initiated with the phrase, it's generally synonymous with things like;
- Working Hard
- Spending late nights / early mornings working
- Making $$$
- Work > Leisure
- Generally, being 'a boss', entrepreneur.
I think the downside of the 'hustling' mentality for businesses, artists, etc. is that there is a kind of pop culture that goes along with it. It's been glorified in media, music, and entertainment in the last decade or so.
Glorified. Lets chat about that word specifically.
We're glorifying this culture of over working and pushing ourselves to the extreme, when realistically we are over working ourselves, or have established a business model that is so inefficient that it requires us to work insane hours.
- Calling your Uber or Lyft job as your 'side hustle'
- Working until 2AM every night doing work for a client
- Gloating about starting work early, or romanticising the idea of working hard.
So just to clarify my first example: If you Uber or Lyft that is fine. You may need the extra cash, you may enjoy it, it may be something that helps you while you have spare time. I don't think it is a very viable career option though, especially if you want to be a photographer or excel in your business (unless you are actually networking from it). My reasoning here is that you are likely better off trying to advance your business—the time spent 'wasted' driving for these places is just delaying your actual business development.
If you need the money, consider getting a loan. Yes, this is scary. But if your business plan is sound, you can afford to be in debt for however many months (or years) it takes until you can pay it back. Driving for Uber or Lyft is just delaying the time you could probably be fully invested into your business.
Now! Back to my point.
Glorifying overworking. This isn't good. We shouldn't be fostering a culture that romanticize the idea of over working...I can see the argument from both sides though: The person who argues that millennials don't know how to work hard. But also the millennial who uses #hustle tag when they work 100+ hour work weeks.
So...first off, you don't have to prove yourself. Is someone making fun of your generation because you don't have a nice desk job like they had decades ago? Ignore them. Do all of your friends brag about their side hustles, the deals they make, the hours they spend working? Ignore it. It's totally ok that you sleep in, watch cartoons after work, or decide to go for a hike on the weekend.
The issue I have with the #hustle idea is that you are likely not equipped to work this hard. You're probably losing sleep. It probably isn't healthy for you. It likely isn't a lifestyle you want to have once you reach your 30's or 40's. There are exceptions—the rare individuals who can work insane hours non-stop—but I doubt this describes most of us.
You need your sleep, your relaxing hours, your peace of mind. #hustle doesn't foster this. It's OK not to work, its OK to not push yourself to the absolute max all the time.
However! There is the opposite to this argument too. You can't be lazy and not do your work. Owning a small business does indeed take a lot of effort. You will need to work long hours sometimes. You may need to adopt a 7 day work week to make ends means. You may have to make sacrifices in your persona life...this comes with the territory. This is normal.
But like any business, you should always be thinking forward. Whats my next step? Where do I want my business to be? What kind of work / life relationship do I want? If you are always #hustle, whats your end goal? Just...to swim in your piles of cash after a few years?
Realistically, you should find a point in your life (business and personal) where your business can sustain itself with normal work hours. It seems ironic, but your goal is to make your business like the 9-5 places small business owners and entrepreneurs often antagonize. I mean, that's the dream, right? To have such a successful business that you can work 40 hours a week, take weekends off, and not have to work more than that, right?
If not, it should be a goal! If you can indeed sustain the #hustle life for the rest of your life...then do it. But I think realistically most people can't sustain this kind of environment, especially as they get older. Yes, you have to work hard (i.e: don't be lazy), but it is important to understand that you are building up your company to be what you want it to be. Do you want a lifestyle where you have to work 7 days a week? That's fine. What do your profit margins look like? Will cutting 2 days of work (ex: weekends) still keep your profit margins in the green? Can you lower your expenses, your overhead and still be profitable / not have to work as much?
Ultimately, you have both the curse and the burden of making your business what you want it to be. You can decide how hard your work, how much money you make, and when you do your business.
So we need less #hustle and more...basically just #normalworkdays. Do your work, run an efficient business, have some fun in life. The more we glorify intense work culture, the more we are likely to normalize insane work schedules. Figure how to manage money. Then how to manage time. Then work it together to find a balance where you feel comfortable.
Personally, I don't work that often. I'm fine with this. I cut my expenditures (personal and business) a lot, and spend on things that tend to foster more business growth. For example, I spend monthly on my photo studio vs. buying camera toys, as I find that having a creative space not only allows me to take in more clients, but it gives me a space to honestly have fun with photography. I cook at home instead of eating out—this means I save a ton of money, and honestly it knocks off many days that I have to theoretically work in the month.
And my work schedule is definitely not perfect. The number of days I tend to not have work heavily outweigh the days I do, but I find that my work schedule (even when busy) tends to be relaxing. I have lots of downtime to offset my work time. Yes, I could make more money if I was in the #hustle camp and my business could make more and more money and I could land larger and larger clients...but as I am seeing steady growth with my company and I am constantly making a surplus that can feed into my savings/retirement, I don't see a huge need to push towards an insane schedule. Should it have more work? Of course. But I don't need to be working 24/7/365, nor should I be bragging about the amount of work I have.
Do you want to brag to all your #hustle friends? Post about all the time off you have to relax while still maintaining a thriving business with manageable hours. Now, THAT is something to be jealous of.