My Constant Hustle and Grind Led to a Serious Anxiety Attack -- Don't Let It Happen to You What if there's a faster and smarter way to make it to the top?
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
But, what if there's a better way? What if there's a faster and even smarter way to make it to the top?
I spent years in hustle and grind mode. I lived it, I preached it, and for me there was no other alternative but to hustle and grind. All that changed when I had an anxiety attack so big that I thought I was having a heart attack. I've learned the hard way that there are serious limits to what hustle and grind can achieve.
Make no mistake about it: Hustle and grind is a necessary evil. It's something you do when you're first starting out in business and you're a one-man show who desperately wants to get his business off the ground. Look, if you're like me and you don't have a trust fund to tap into, you don't plan on getting financial investors and you don't want to take out a business loan then all you've got is hustle and grind, and you best hustle hard.
But, far too many entrepreneurs become dependent on the hustle and grind factor and end up causing themselves unnecessary stress, anxiety and even financial setbacks.
Here's how I look at it: Hustle and grind is a "tool" in the entrepreneur's tool belt. It's your unwavering work ethic, your focused passion and your insatiable hunger to succeed. But, it's only one phase of growth, the first phase, and not the vehicle that will take your business to its fullest potential.
That's where I had it all wrong and that's the biggest mistake I see many entrepreneurs make today.
When I first set out to launch my fitness franchise, I decided to bootstrap the entire thing. This meant no loan, no investors and only a couple of employees -- and that meant I was going to do it all.
I was the marketing guy, the sales guy, the operations guy and the janitor guy. I did it all and said "yes" to every opportunity. That's what hustle and grind is all about -- to outwork everyone, say yes to opportunities and to create opportunities for yourself when none exist.
Soon, through all your hustle and grind, you start seeing the fruits of your labor as money starts flowing in. Before long you're profitable, and growing and hiring more employees with a vision of a bigger, better and more profitable business. Of course, in the process you let your health go, your relationships suffer and what little routine you have goes to hell in a hand basket.
We entrepreneurs are risk takers. We come up with an idea and we execute quickly. That's what's necessary when you're building a business from the ground up. You don't have time to think about your options or weigh the pros and cons, let alone create systems and processes that will make running your business more efficient and profitable.
As I said, hustle and grind is best during the first phase of growth for your business. Anything beyond that is damaging to your business, health and personal life.
For example, the pilot of a 747 airliner will go into full thrust during takeoff to get that giant plane off the ground and into the air. That's what you're feeling when you get pressed back into your seat as the plane barrels full speed down the runway to get liftoff. That's hustle and grind. Once airborne, the pilot uses the autopilot system, smart navigation and cruising momentum to safely and efficiently get to his destination.
For the entrepreneur, the next phase of growth is "scale and structure." But, the problem with most entrepreneurs is that they're so used to hustle and grind that they think that the answer to more growth and more profits is more hustle and grind.
What got you here won't get you there. You can either hustle your way to more stress and anxiety, or you can shift gears, turn pro and go into the next phase of entrepreneurial growth -- scale and structure.
For me, I hustled for far too long. I took pride in the grind and that I could outwork anyone. The reality was that I was neutering my business and running around like a chicken with its head cut off. It wasn't until my massive anxiety attack (which was followed up by a string of more anxiety attacks) that I decided to take a different look at the way I do business.
That's when I realized that even though I was finally making money, seeing growth and hiring more employees, I was still operating in a state of hustle, grind and chaos, without any real system or structure to scale my business to its fullest potential. I made the switch, and it's no surprise that we went from 135 franchise locations to over 530 locations in just three years.
Maybe it's time for you to switch gears from hustle and grind to scale and structure, too. This means getting clear and singularly focused on your vision. It means taking inventory of what's working in your business so you can create a process out of it, and then figure out what's not working so that you can either fix it or eliminate it altogether.
Scale and structure is about creating systems so that you can run the systems and the systems can run your business. It's about building a high-performance team, creating leadership within that team and delegating the big work to the leaders (and showing them how to delegate too). It's about constantly improving your product or service, becoming the "best in class" and creating efficiency. It's about optimizing the way you market, sell and fulfill your service or product.
Switching to a mindset of scale and structure is what helped me go from working in my business to working on my business, and it can help you too.