The Hustle Culture - Dark side of Entrepreneurship

Even though I am no longer technically an entrepreneur I love everything about entrepreneurship. Mainly because it’s not really possible to stop being a startup guy once you have tasted the taste and have danced the dance. And one does not have to really run their own startup necessarily to be entrepreneurial. The spirit of a startup is still what drives my day to day approach to things. Any project that I start begins with the MVP approach with as little bells and whistles as possible. I keep wiggle room for pivoting as an when needed which has usually helped me if facing failure much less than normal. The summary - I love entrepreneurship and everything about it. Except for one thing.

The over-glorification of the “hustle”.

Now it’s not really something that is a factor of entrepreneurship but more of how the startup culture, in general, glorifies the hustle. My LinkedIn is more or less exclusively startup folks and this phenomenon is pretty much apparent there. Every single day I see at least 5 posts romanticizing the ‘hustle’. Now I am all up for showing your love for the process and the hard work and yes - the hustle as well. Hell, most of my older blog posts about that only. But things get a little problematic when you start hyping just one factor of the whole entrepreneurship experience. Most of the people only just talk about the hustle as if it is the only thing that matters, or even exists. The glorification of the fact that their startup is an all-encompassing all-consuming thing that doesn’t leave them any time or energy to do anything sends out a really bad message. An outsider who is sitting at the fence, contemplating the leap into the startup world, can very easily be scared away at this extreme portrayal of hustle. So much so that any people have started equating entrepreneurship with hustle.

At one point I too believed in this. And it’s my first-hand experience that it is very hard to actually realize how detrimental this thought process is to the individual and the community. Yes, a fledgling startup demands a whole lot more than a job would and the younger the startup is, the more it demands your attention and time but there needs to be a plan where things start to balance out. There needs to come a point where the individual realized that this kind of overworking and overstressing is going to have serious negative physical and mental consequences. What’s worse is that existing entrepreneurs are fetishizing this whole process and making it look glorious. Alexis Ohanian, the founder of Reddit, has even given this phenomenon a term - hustle porn.

There is no better motivator than results. A positive outcome of your action motivates you to take more such actions and then some more. Unless you as an individual define specific goals, there will never come a time when you will know that it is now time to pull back. Instead, this will lead to deterioration of physical and mental capabilities and eventual burnout. You would not want that.

Solution: Balance. I think this image will explain everything more precisely and clearly than I ever could with words. Entrepreneurship, my friends, is a marathon, not a sprint.

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I have helped many startups in building their products and I would be happy to have a chat with you about your idea. Catch me on twitter at @akhilrex