Hustling toward Perfection
Entrepreneurs come in all sizes and flavors. Many are written up when their venture capital or angel investor sponsors put thousands and sometimes millions of dollars into their ideas. Some of these entrepreneurial companies make it big over time when they reach the stage of the Initial Public Offering (IPO) and some of the founders and early employees along with their initial venture capital companies become wealthy. There are also many more entrepreneurs that start new businesses with good ideas and good people, but do not have the notoriety of capturing the interest of the venture capitalists and find themselves working very hard to bootstrap their way forward. I have had opportunity to work with both types of entrepreneurial approaches. What I have learned is that there are some fundamental business strategies I found that were very helpful to move my companies forward.
My initial partner and I started our first company after leaving our full time corporate jobs to jump into an entrepreneurial adventure. As a team of two, we felt that the leveraging of our efforts and our enthusiasm would make us appear as greater than 2, perhaps a company as big as 3 or 4 employees. We had decided that in order to be successful we needed to provide a level of presentation and service that was going to be better than any competitor we might encounter. This led us to the concept of the “perfect” approach. Everything we did that had to do with our customers and/or potential customers was going to be perfect. This resulted in our polishing every document we issued which we read and re-read multiple times until it was highly polished. Our approach was pretty straightforward. We knew that potentially miss-spelling a word or using improper grammar or sending any thing that was less than polished was a mistake that our small company did not want to have to overcome. We shuddered at the thought of what a customer might think if we miss-spelled his or her name.
As a small company we built a network of business advisors who were friends and colleagues that we would tap into for legal, accounting, and other professional advice. We convinced our colleagues that we would ultimately pay for future services when that time arrived. We ran our corporate financials from our company checkbook. We spent hours at the white board polishing every strategy and customer presentation that we used. And we adopted a business philosophy charter based on the concept of “hustle”.
We documented this charter with a placard in our office that stated:
What is Hustle
• HUSTLE is doing something that everyone is absolutely certain can’t be done
• HUSTLE is getting commitment because you go there first, or stayed with it after everyone else gave up
• HUSTLE is show leather and elbow grease and sweat and missing lunch and staying late to “get it done”
• HUSTLE is getting the prospect to say “yes” after they’ve sais “no” twenty times
• HUSTLE is believing in yourself and the business you’re in
• HUSTLE is supporting your customer always and treating quality like your religion
• HUSTLE is the sheer joy of winning
• HUSTLE is being the sorest looser in town
• HUSTLE is living each moment by being in the center of a happening
• HUSTLE is heaven is you are a hustler
• HUSTLE is hell if you’re not