If you are a one-person company, then the time you spend hustling to find more work is not in fact working. I realize this may seem counterintuitive at first, but let’s break it down. Is someone paying you to hustle? By that, I mean if you go out and find the work, are there other people to do the work so your role in the organization is in fact to bring more work in?
When hustling is working
The hustle, work, hustle cycle. If you are running a solo company, then I’d bet dollars to donuts that you go out and hustle for work, then come back to the office and do the work. Of course, the problem is that while you are doing the work it’s hard to hustle for more work. Sure, you can write some blog posts and spend some time on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin. These efforts should generate leads for future work, but you still have to do some hustling to close that business. It might be as simple as a phone call or two, but more likely involves a face-to-face meeting as well.
Hustling is working for me. My company, ColorMetrix, has reached the point where very little of my time is billable back to clients. My primary responsibility in the organization is to hustle and make sure we have enough work to pay the bills and make a decent living. Somewhere around 80 percent of the company revenue is generated by the work of my business partner and other designers and software developers. That last 20 percent is made up of consultative days I bill out and revenue I generate for things like our user group meeting coming up in April.
If you can’t bill for or don’t get paid to hustle, then hustling is not working. Mind you, it’s work and damn hard work at that. It’s just not working in the sense of creating the art you can bill out. So, it’s time to ask yourself a pretty tough question: Which of the following people do you want to be?
The lifestyle entrepreneur who is perfectly comfortable with the work, hustle, work cycle. You can bill enough for your work so that you can more than make up for the nonproductive time spent hustling.
The worker bee who loves working and creating the art. You’re more comfortable with the work than the people basically. Your goal is finding someone who can hustle for you in exchange for a reasonable percentage of the sales dollars. Remember, you’ll be billing more hours so you should be able to work this out.
The hustler who loves schmoozing and everything else that goes with the sales lifestyle.
This isn’t necessarily something you think about when you are starting a new venture. It’s vitally important stuff, however, and if you haven’t thought about it yet, maybe it’s time. I’ve worked myself into the hustler role not so much by design, but as an evolutionary process. That won’t be the right path for everyone and there’s actually a fourth role I’ve set a goal of being in by the end of the year. That, however, we will leave for another blog post.
Hustling is just as important as working. It just doesn’t pay as well until you’ve built out a team to do the working.