Hustlers vs Entrepreneurs: Which One Are You?

by / ⠀Personal Branding Startup Advice / February 27, 2012

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.

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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.

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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

About The Author

Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson is Co-Founder of Under30Experiences, a travel company for young people ages 21-35. He is the original Co-founder of Under30CEO (Acquired 2016). Matt is the Host of the Live Different Podcast and has 50+ Five Star iTunes Ratings on Health, Fitness, Business and Travel. He brings a unique, uncensored approach to his interviews and writing. His work is published on, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, Huffington Post, Reuters, and many others. Matt hosts yoga and fitness retreats in his free time and buys all his food from an organic farm in the jungle of Costa Rica where he lives. He is a shareholder of the Green Bay Packers.