This sign says it all (at the WeWork space in South Beach)

Embrace the Hustle

So you want to start a company. All your friends are doing it, and some of them are making decent money. Great!

Get ready to hustle. A lot.

I meet a ton of entrepreneurs and they all talk a good game. I’ve learned not to believe it until I see it. The real test is: how much have they accomplished since the last time we spoke?

Last week I caught up with Jason. Since we first met a few months ago he’s launched his software, has it running on one big-name website and is about to launch on another, signed his first paying customer, and his vision about what he’s building has gotten bigger. Oh, and he raised $200k.

Amazing!

So now I believe he has what it takes to win. He didn’t need the money to make any of that happen. In fact, I would argue that he got the money BECAUSE he made all that happen. And now I want to be involved and I feel good introducing him to investors.

I was talking with Chris last weekend. He and his wife have built an online retail business over the past three years. They’re making more money than he does with his full-time job (that he still keeps because he’s cautious). She works full-time on the business. So he works all day and then devotes a few hours every evening to growing the company. And they both work on weekends.

He showed me all the stuff they’re doing. He walked me through what’s working for them and what hasn’t worked. And he was constantly checking his phone to see how quickly sales were rolling in. And he was excited!

And now I believe that he and his wife have what it takes to win. And I know that when we talk again he’ll tell me about all the things he’s been working on.

The trick, however, is to focus on things that actually matter. It’s easy to stay busy, but it’s hard to grow your business. It’s difficult to get your first revenue, and even harder to grow that initial seed into a thriving company. It’s easy to get distracted, and to spend time and money on stuff that doesn’t actually matter (I’ll do a separate post on this at some point).

So figure out what’s important and get in the habit of always moving the ball down the field. If you tell someone you’re going to do something then go ahead and do it. Right now. Start hustling before you raise any money. Get good at it. Get so good that you don’t even need investors to succeed, but you have the option to take their money in order to grow faster.

When you’re pitching investors — or potential customers — it’s likely that you’ll have several conversations. Now each time you go back to them you’ll be able to talk about all of your recent accomplishments. And that will make you stand out.

People love momentum. It makes them want to get involved.

Plus you’ll be teaching yourself to win regardless of what other people do.

Written by Mike Lingle, if you like this then follow my journey as I help startups start up.

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