It is slightly worrying that I keep seeing The Startup Hustle™ articles making the rounds again, reminding the founders that if you don’t give up everything that life’s worth living for, like a healthy relationship with your spouse, your company will most likely fail.
After helping others build companies for years and building my own for a fair bit, I call bullshit.
You know all those lessons about how you have to scale your business quickly to call yourself a startup? Well, guess what — sacrificing life to run your company just doesn’t scale in the long run. You can’t out-hustle your competitors and you can’t out-execute others by working longer hours.
For years now, I seen both the 100-hour-a-week and 30-hour-a-week companies fail and succeed and absolutely none of those were because of how much they worked. On the other hand, all of it depended on how well they understood their market and how quickly they could adapt to change. This is what will kill your company, not actually having time to enjoy life outside work.
I’ve been through working super long weeks to make sure everything is in place and I can tell you what happens after a couple of months or years of going like that. You’ll get tunnel vision, failing over and over again and not understanding why, because you lack broader picture. You’ll start cutting corners, sacrificing quality for shipping. You’ll start resenting your work, producing worse and worse results. Eventually, you’ll just give up.
“Name one founder who succeeded by taking it easy”, asks the original article, listing a bunch of startups who gave up everything, sleep in their office and that I haven’t even heard about before reading the article. On the other side we have Elepath. Keezy. Exposure. Buffer. Should I go on?
The hustle is bullshit and it will make you unhappy. Forget about it. Learn to delegate work. Challenge assumptions. Fail quickly and often. Talk to your users. Be humble, frugal and resourceful. Focus on what matters. This, not working a hundred hours a week will make your company successful. Mindless hustle will kill your startup.
Let me leave you with wise words from Killer Mike, rapper in Run The Jewels, as well as owner of a self-started barber shop franchise: “You have to be like a wild, hungry animal — and it doesn't mean vicious and out of control, but that means calculated and focused on getting that meal.”