How Hustle Culture is Hurting Small Business
“I’ve got a dream worth more than my sleep!”
“Starve your distractions, feed your focus.”
“Rise and Grind.”
As a small business owner on social media, you’ll likely have found these toxic hustle culture catch cries littering your feed. Often shared by the mommy home business crowd or the young finance bros. But have you ever wondered, where did hustle culture come from? Is this approach really helping people succeed? And do you really need to ‘hustle’ to get anywhere in business?
We’re going to breakdown hustle culture, the damaging effects it’s having on small business owners and what you can do instead to get ahead.
Where did Hustle Culture come from?
The word hustle has been around for a long time, and it came from the dutch word husselen, which actually meant to shake. And the early associations for this word mostly centered around swindling people, grifting people and basically obtaining money by fraud or deception.
But it has since morphed to mean simply ‘make money’.
Hustle Culture as we know it today, in patronising quotes shared to social media with backdrops of people flexing muscles or watching sunrises, was born out of the 2008 recession.
The financial and economic instability had many younger generations worried for their future. This resulted in two things.
People taking on ‘side hustles’ either starting their own small business or moonlighting second jobs to find a faster path to financial security. And people overworking in their jobs to try to and achieve higher salaries and leadership positions sooner.
This tendency towards overworking has stuck around, and as a result of working from home during the pandemic, many people are not ‘switching off’ after work, and instead continue to answer work calls and check emails after working hours. According to a recent study by the Australian Institute’s Centre for Future Work, an average Australian complete 6.1 hours of unpaid overtime each week.
Hustle Culture is especially bad for small business owners because there’s more pressure when the success of the whole business rides on your shoulders.
Does Hustle Culture really help people succeed?
Sometimes it can be tempting to buy into Hustle Culture. Hustle Culture tells us to work, all day and all night if necessary to achieve your goals. It says it’s not about talent, it’s about consistency. In hustle culture the only thing that matters is money and success. While all small business owners do understand the need to prioritise their business, especially in the beginning, hustle culture doesn’t make for a successful business, just a stressed and burnt-out business owner.
Hustle Culture is Toxic
Hustle culture has been rightfully criticised for it’s intense focus on work above all else. Hustle culture breeds an environment that can only lead to burn out. 42% of small business owners say they have experienced burn out the past month and 24% say they are currently experiencing it. The human brain needs rest periods, a sound sleep schedule and ultimately time to switch off and relax in order to actually achieve decent working results.
Here’s five tips to reject hustle culture and create a healthy work / life balance
Redefine what success looks like for you
In business we all want to be successful, but success doesn’t have to look the same for everyone. Establish and set goals for your business and review your achievements regularly. Your goals should be moveable and changeable, adapting as your business changes.
You don’t need to be working 24/7 with more customers or clients than you can handle. Set your own limits as to what success looks like to you. Maybe it’s not working 7 days a week and being booked out, maybe it’s working with customers or clients that you really like or it’s taking every Friday off to spend time with friends or family.
Success is whatever makes you happiest and most fulfilled in your business.
Work smarter not harder
One great way to avoid burn out and hustle culture is reject the myth that being constantly busy is a sign of your success. It’s a sign that you either took on too much work, you’re charging too little or you’re manually completing work that could be automated.
One way to avoid burning out is to adopt the philosophy of working smarter and not harder. In small business there is a lot more administration than anyone realises. That’s why automating systems wherever possible will streamline your schedule and give you more breathing space in your day.
Automated invoices, booking systems and payment reminders can save you hours of work and ensure that human error doesn’t clog up the system.
Set clear boundaries
If you don’t want to work on weekends or evenings, then don’t work weekends or evenings. Do not allow your clients, customers or contractors to set meetings or push for accelerated turn arounds. You choose your working times when you work for yourself and to maintain some semblance of a social life you need to set clear boundaries.
While hustle culture would tell you to be on ’24/7’ that’s not healthy and not sustainable. Remember this isn’t life or death and everything can wait till tomorrow.
Prioritise self care
You’re a key component of your business, much like your laptop or home desktop. You are essential to your business’s success. And much like your laptop you require maintenance. If your laptop computer started to play up or was not working as well as it usually would, you’d take it to a computer tech and get it fixed and upgraded, you should treat yourself the same way.
Prioritise self-care, whether this is a Friday off once a month to take yourself out to lunch or an exercise class you enjoy, or regular therapy sessions. Consider your self-care as an investment in yourself and your business.
We hope you found this article interesting and helpful. If you’re running a small business and feeling the overwhelm, we have great courses that help you get on top of your business activities.