When you look up the definition of “hustler” in the dictionary you are presented with the following definition:
- an enterprising person determined to succeed; go-getter.
- Slang. a person who employs fraudulent or unscrupulous methods to obtain money; swindler.
- Informal. an expert gambler or game player who seeks out challengers, especially unsuspecting amateur ones, in order to win money from them: He earned his living as a pool hustler.
- Slang. a prostitute.
- a person who hustles.
Many people associate the term "hustler" with something negative, and several of these definitions show why. If you’re an entrepreneur, though, you should want to be described as a hustler by everyone -- your peers, your customers and even your competition.
Successful entrepreneurs don’t wait for opportunity to fall in their lap -- they go out and make it happen. One of my favorite hustle-related quotes is from Abraham Lincoln. He said, “Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.”
I’m in the middle of writing two books -- one is focused on digital marketing and the other is about how to be a successful relentless entrepreneur. During my preparation for the second book, I spoke to more than one hundred entrepreneurs about what characteristics successful hustlers possess. Here are my favorite thirteen characteristics from those conversations.
1. Hustlers understand the importance of networking.
“You will never be successful hiding in the corner and keeping to yourself. You need to constantly be out there networking, with other entrepreneurs and industry contacts. This is where a lot of new opportunities, partnerships and success originates from. You have to constantly have your feelers out for new opportunities. Your competition will catch and pass you the minute you become idle.”
Mike Robbins, CEO of Luxe Water Walls
2. Hustlers are laser-focused 24/7.
“What really sets hustlers apart is their level of focus. You have to eat, sleep and breathe whatever it is that you are focused on accomplishing. Whether that’s building the next successful mobile app or increasing your sales revenue from the previous month. Everyone has responsibilities outside of work, but those that remain laser-focused around the clock will always find a way to accomplish what they set out to get done.”
Ryan Hulland, CEO of Netfloor USA
3. Hustlers genuinely care about helping other people.
“Many people have the misconception that those who describe themselves as hustlers are swindlers and they can’t be trusted. This is far from true, as some of the entrepreneurs in my circle that I consider hustlers are some of the most thoughtful and caring individuals I have ever met. When you help others, it often comes back to you tenfold in the form of business relationships and opportunities.”
Kevin Wendelburg, Owner of Relax on the Beach, Inc.
Related: 7 Elements of a Strong Work Ethic
4. Hustlers dream ridiculously big.
“A successful hustler is always dreaming bigger than anyone else. They understand that there is no limit on what you can envision or dream, as long as you are willing to work harder than anyone else in order to bring the dream to reality. Look how big Facebook has grown since it was first introduced. Mark Zuckerberg is a true hustler.”
Victor Tam, CMO of Rove Concepts
5. Hustlers aren’t afraid to take a risk.
“If you tell someone that there is only a one percent chance of their startup being successful, most would stop dead in their tracks and quit. The small percentage of entrepreneurs that wouldn’t even consider quitting are the true hustlers. They aren’t afraid to take a risk, no matter how high the odds are stacked against them.”
Loren Taylor, CEO of Outdoor Fountain Pros
6. Hustlers fail hard and often.
“Most people don’t want to admit when they don’t succeed, but a hustler has no problem discussing his or her failures. They understand it’s impossible to hit a home run every time at bat and that it can take multiple attempts to finally make it. Hustlers are big risk takers, so when they do fail it’s often a high-impact crash. It doesn’t stop them, though, because they get back up and try again.”
Hung Hoang, CEO of Lifestyle9
7. Hustlers eliminate all distractions.
“You could want it more than anyone else, but if you let outside distractions interfere and take your focus off accomplishing your goals you will never fulfill them. It’s not easy, but you need to learn to eliminate all distractions, whether they are work-relate or personal, such as a toxic relationship. Hustlers constantly look ahead and don’t take their eyes off the end goal, and to do that, you need to push all distractions to the side.”
Avanda Alvin, Founder of Car Release Price Specs
8. Hustlers never quit.
“There is no timetable for success, and hustlers understand this. They are willing to work hard, from morning to night, until they reach their goal. If you set out to accomplish something with a pre-determined time frame in which you believe you should finish, it can set you up for epic disappointment and ultimately failure.”
Jerry Wilfred, Founder of Toss the Key
9. Hustlers think outside the box.
“One of the biggest business clichés is ‘thinking outside the box,’ and it’s a characteristic all successful hustlers possess. They approach opportunities, situations and problems in innovative and different ways -- completely opposite of how most people would. Their unique way of identifying opportunities and solving problems allow them to succeed when most would fail. Hustlers are always thinking -- their mind never pauses for a break.”
Jim Epton, Founder of Domain Hunter Gatherer
10. Hustlers value daily self-improvement.
“The only way you are going to be a better, more successful entrepreneur is by constantly improving yourself. From reading books every day to learning more about your particular industry, there is always going to be information to absorb. Hustlers will find the time to read and focus on self-improvement, even if that means waking up early in the morning or skipping happy hour with friends. They rank improving themselves very high on their priority list.”
Onyabo Monagoe of Transcendence Luxury Condos
11. Hustlers embrace authenticity.
“Have you ever met a hustler who was shy, reserved and tried to pretend who he or she was? I sure haven’t. They are very confident in who they are and they aren’t afraid to show the world. There is no need to put up a smokescreen -- let your true personality shine. Authenticity is also a byproduct of being so laser-focused on the end goal, because there is no time to be anything other than authentic when you are 100 percent focused.”
Keith Bridges, CEO of Safford Trading Company
12. Hustlers love what they do.
“If you don’t truly love what you do it becomes very difficult to excel and experience success. It is much easier to dedicate the majority of your time to something when you are passionate about it. Many people label entrepreneurs that work nonstop as hustlers -- they simply love what they do. Hustlers become consumed with their goals, refusing to stop until they are reached.”
Imran Asghar, Founder of 24/7 Spares
13. Hustlers create their own opportunities.
“Hustlers possess the ability to create their own path, which is why so many people labeled as being hustlers are such successful entrepreneurs. Imagine being faced with a challenge and there are two options, A or B. Many times neither option is exactly what you need, and this is where the hustler mentality comes into play. Rather than pick a sub-par option, a hustler creates a third option, C. Successful hustlers know what the best option is, and they make it available.”
David Marantz, Founder of Direct Life Settlements