There’s a saying that entrepreneurs are willing to work 80 hours a week to avoid working 40. And if you’re spending 80 hours per week on your business, then power to you.
But what if you’re putting in the time but not seeing the results? Here’s an email that I received from a reader the other day…
Hey Steve. Everyday I wake up, eat breakfast, work the entire day on my online business, eat dinner, work some more and then go to bed.
I’ve been doing this for almost a year but I don’t feel like I’m getting anywhere. Shouldn’t things have taken off already?
Hey I get it.
Rule #1 of business is that you must put in the work to see results but hauling a$$ for a year doesn’t guarantee success.
In fact, all of the “you need to hustle” advice circling around the web is probably skewing your expectations.
For example if you listen to Gary Vaynerchuk you might think that you need to burn the candle at both ends…
When you’re truly in that hustle, you are maximizing every last bit of energy you have in order to produce.
If you listen to George Bernard Shaw you might think that you need to put in 10X the effort…
“When I was young, I observed that nine out of 10 things I did were failures. So I did 10 times more work.”
Don’t get me wrong.
I’m a big time fan of both George and Gary but I don’t believe that hustling is always the right answer.
I also don’t believe that telling people to hustle is very useful advice.
By all means you should work hard, put in the hours and do the research, but that’s just stating the obvious. After all, you can’t get anywhere without taking action.
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Why You Shouldn’t Hustle
To me, hustling carries the stigma of long hours and an intense work ethic.
When I think of hustling, I think of someone who works 16 hour days and is completely consumed in his or her work.
But here’s a little secret. I don’t operate this way at all. In fact, I don’t consider myself a “hustler” in the true sense of the term.
Sure, there are times when I forget to eat because I’m absorbed in my work but that doesn’t happen all that often.
Instead most of the time, I just try to accomplish one thing per day and then call it quits.
Most of the time, I don’t try to “maximize every last bit of my energy” or “do 10X the work”. In fact, I am just a lazy Chinese guy at heart.
Does that mean that I’m not an effective entrepreneur? Does that mean that I have no drive to succeed?
Here’s the real problem with preaching the hustle mentality.
By telling everyone they need to hustle to succeed, that implies that working intensely always leads to success. But that’s simply not true.
There are so many external factors in play that can affect your business and sometimes things just take time to develop.
My Approach To Business
The problem with hustling towards the finish line is that there is no finish line. So you should avoid setting a “specific time table” for your success.
Now I’m not saying that you shouldn’t set goals or be ambitious nor am I saying that you shouldn’t shoot for the stars.
But stop telling yourself that you need to succeed within a certain time frame because you never know when things will start to take off.
The truth is that I rarely “hustle”.
Instead, I pick a slow and steady pace and tell myself that I’m going to maintain it forever.
In fact, I treat all of my businesses like a change in my lifestyle.
For example when I committed to blogging, I told myself that I was going to write an article at least once a week FOREVER.
When I started my online store, I made a similar mental commitment. I didn’t have an end game in mind. Instead, I allocated some extra time in my routine to fit things in.
Today, running my businesses are a part of my regular schedule. I don’t think about hustling. I just try to make forward progress on a consistent basis.
I’ve been at this for almost 10 years now and I’ve seen so many entrepreneurs come and go.
But I’m always a constant.
The Problem With People Today
The biggest problem with entrepreneurship today is that information is too accessible.
The biggest problem with entrepreneurship is that we are aware of other people’s successes which makes us feel inadequate.
Hell. There are so many people who started blogging after me who are doing better than I am. And there are so many more successful ecommerce entrepreneurs as well.
But here’s the thing.
Our problem as entrepreneurs isn’t that we don’t work hard enough. Our problem is that we need to keep our feelings of inadequacy in check.
We need to not get depressed when our reality doesn’t meet the lofty standards of the Internet.
After I published my latest set of income reports, a reader asked me why I only publish my reports twice a year instead of on a monthly basis.
Well the real reason is because sh-t doesn’t happen that fast. Sure, I could put out a monthly report but I’d have nothing to talk about except for the numbers.
The Grind Is Boring
Everyone tends to glamorize entrepreneurship but the truth of the matter is that I’m sitting around waiting a lot.
For example, I just set up a new set of Pinterest ads the other day and what am I doing now? I’m waiting a few weeks for the results to come in.
Whenever I write a blog post, I have to wait at least 3-6 months for it rank in search.
Nothing happens right away!
And to be perfectly honest, the biggest problem I see is that most young entrepreneurs have a problem with patience.
- Steve, how soon can I make money if I follow your strategy?
- Steve, can you send me all of your free lessons right away instead of once per day?
- Steve, will you publish my unique contents on your blog even though you have no idea who the heck I am?
Sometimes, I wonder what this world is coming to. Can no one wait for anything anymore?
Here’s the reality.
- Things take time to progress at their own pace. So don’t set expectations based on someone else’s success.
- Wait the frickin 6 days for my free mini course emails to arrive ok:)?
- Relationships take time to develop. Try to get to know someone BEFORE asking for a favor
9 times out of 10, no matter how hard you work or how hard you hustle, things will just happen on their own.
And you can’t force it or will things to happen just because you want it so bad. Sometimes it’s just not your turn yet.
Once you realize that the business world is so much bigger than your work ethic, you can adjust your perspective and chill the heck out.
Don’t get down on yourself because you haven’t reached some imaginary point with your business. Just sit back and enjoy the journey.
Find a pace that you can maintain indefinitely and don’t obsess over why you aren’t doing as well as someone you read about on the Internet.
Trust me, you’ll just get disappointed every time if you do.
Instead, just put your head down, keep on trucking and one day your time will come. And when it finally does, take the time to enjoy it.
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Steve Chou is a highly recognized influencer in the ecommerce space and has taught thousands of students how to effectively sell physical products online over at ProfitableOnlineStore.com.
His blog, MyWifeQuitHerJob.com, has been featured in Forbes, Inc, The New York Times, Entrepreneur and MSNBC.
He's also a contributing author for BigCommerce, Klaviyo, ManyChat, Printful, Privy, CXL, Ecommerce Fuel, GlockApps, Privy, Social Media Examiner, Web Designer Depot, Sumo and other leading business publications.
In addition, he runs a popular ecommerce podcast, My Wife Quit Her Job, which is a top 25 marketing show on all of Apple Podcasts.
To stay up to date with all of the latest ecommerce trends, Steve runs a 7 figure ecommerce store, BumblebeeLinens.com, with his wife and puts on an annual ecommerce conference called The Sellers Summit.
Steve carries both a bachelors and a masters degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University. Despite majoring in electrical engineering, he spent a good portion of his graduate education studying entrepreneurship and the mechanics of running small businesses.
43 thoughts on “Read This If You Are Hustling Hard But Not Seeing Results With Your Business”
Having just started my freelance life building websites, the reminder in this article that it takes patience and not to compare yourself to others is perfect timing.
Thanks for the note Rus
I have been waiting a while for you to write this type of post.
Not what I was expecting when I read your headline but, this was refreshing. I am guilty of hustling hard, obsessing, working super long hours once I have an idea in my head and I end up burning myself out for awhile then I go back at it and get frustrated when I have not seen results. Completely relate to this article!
Love the idea of accepting the fact that you will do a little bit a day FOREVER. 😉
Good stuff thanks
Thanks Casey. That’s how I personally operate. Not sure it applies to everyone
This post was excellent timing for me. I’ll be opening my store at the start of September and I’m already finding myself worrying about how it’s going to do. This was a great reminder to crawl, walk then run. Patience!
Congrats Chris. What’s the URL?
We’re just starting out with our website and product line. We’ve received our first test order (100 units) and now we wait….currently: 98 bottles of beer on the wall. I’ve become impatient with lack of sales in three weeks after running ads and managing our page on FB, listing on Ebay, setting up boards on Pinterest, starting an instagram account, and now trying to figure out Google Ads. Next is taking the show to Amazon.
I really find myself getting down at the (what seems like) glacial pace of sales. You’ll see on our site that with one product/design to offer, we’re in the corner of a rather nichey niche.
My partner and I run a design firm and are doing this as an added revenue stream. My hopes are to get away from work-for-hire, because design clients all want cheap and frankly, I’m tired of doing crap for other people. In any case, we’re balancing the client work with trying to test and build this. My desire to focus on ecommerce really makes doing the client work a struggle, especially when I really want sales to flow…and they’re not.
In any case, your blog post was much needed. Thank you.
If you haven’t tried Amazon yet, I would definitely give it a shot. It’s much easier to launch a product there
I am really sick of the grinding “American dream” success culture that is mostly about working “crazy” hours. counting $$$ and burning out. True success is enjoying your work and the process of building something gradually over time, which ultimately leads to increased personal freedom and satisfaction.
Unfortunately, it’s a lot easier to get clicks and views with tales of extraordinary (and often misrepresented) success, so this has become the established narrative. It took us nearly 10 years – including 5 years of zero sales – to reach 7 figures in sales with our line of lifestyle bags.
Now I’m following in Steve’s footsteps with a similar path in blogging and it’s the humble early days all over again….
Wow 5 years of 0 sales! That is impressive perseverance.
Best line of the post and best line probably of your years writings. “Instead, just put your head down, keep on trucking and one day your time will come. And when it finally does, take the time to enjoy.”
Good advice Steve!
I guess I’m guilty of being impatient at the online stuff as well. I found your awesome podcast a few months ago and am working through all of the episodes starting with the oldest first and I catch myself getting a little down sometimes after hearing about all the successes of your terrific guests and comparing where I’m at to where they’re at. I’ve been at the brick and mortar part of my business for 12 years now and it took 9 of those to get it to the place where it replaced my day job income. I guess the hardest part when I hear all the great ideas is knowing what order to work on various aspects of the online income.
Thank you for the much needed reminder. I started my online store 3-4 years ago and only last year did I start seeing some sales coming in and not impressive at all.
A lot of it for me is not knowing what I don’t know and what to focus on when I first started off.
Now I know what gets results so I’m focusing my time and strengths on content creation and product development.
I relate growing a business to growing a fruit tree. You cant expect to plant an apple seed today and expect the tree to give fruit (apples) within a 1-2 years maybe even longer.
The seed must be the right seed (Strong Resilient) the soil must be nutrient rich (Mindset) the sun has to hit the plant a certain number of hours throughout the day for the seedling to even sprout flowers( Learning).
And you have to constantly toil the soil (Daily Action) to make sure your little tree is healthy and strong.
However, I also have the mindset that if I fail, even though I’ve put in 3-4 years I have learned so much that I can better apply my knowledge to another venture and continue to evolve my skill set & tools.
Wow, Christian, that was so beautifully said…it painted a picture in my mind and really helps to put things in perspective.
…..”The problem with hustling towards the finish line is that there is no finish line.”…
And isn’t that the truth!
It just seems like once you gain a bit of traction there’s a whole new learning curve you’re faced with. Focus is a big issue for me; every shiny object that enters my view takes me spinning in a new direction.
Anything from a new business idea…go see if there’s a good URL…
A new product idea…look for manufacturers and costs…
A new post type…go research keywords…
A new… and on and on it goes!
How the heck do you manage to stay focused and stick to a schedule, Steve?!?!?!
Needed to be reminded of this today.
Super advice Steve. I’ve been online now for over 10 years and often I feel like I should have accomplished so much more by now too. But then I look at what I have accomplished… just pluggin’ away… little by little… and I’m amazed and grateful and thankful at how far I have come.
I’ve built a resilient business that affords me a comfortable, flexible lifestyle and I know I still have plenty of room to learn and grow. So that is exciting.
But you can’t push the flow or do it all at once. And it doesn’t help at all to tear yourself down. Just keep at it like you said… one thing at a time, keep moving forward and that consistent effort compounds over time.
I feel like that all the time:)
Excellent post, Steve!
I work hard all day, but I also try to take a daily nap, a walk, to cook all my meals and sleep for about 7 hours every night. This routine has served me well.
I can’t imagine how anyone can function working non-stop; I think everyone needs time to recover so they can think clearly and work efficiently.
I agree. I actually wonder what Gary V’s schedule is like everyday.
Your blogs speak to the heart and this one particularly spoke loudly to me. The timing of this post was impeccable, as I needed more than ever to remind myself to take a step back, to reflect on nature’s time, and to remember why I am doing what I am doing in the first place! It is so easy to feel lost and adrift when results are not seemingly there, and at times so unachievable! But your words are so “raw” and comforting. Thank you from the depths of me!
Sitting back and enjoying the journey is not so easy if your living essentials depending on business growth. But we should tackle it with sporting spirit.
This was an amazing post so against the grain. I’ve been so entrenched in this hustle mode mentality.
What I liked about this post…
1) You say you’re a lazy Chinese guy at heart. This had me rolling on the ground laughing. Coming from a Chinese background I know all about the asian grind mentality lol.
2) You like Gary Vee and I follow him too. But I like how you are very honest and candid about your approach to working hard and just having the patience to over ride everything.
3) You really provided clarity for myself. I’ll admit I’m a bit conflicted as to which approach to take. I work my butt off with the Gary Vee mentality, however when I Read the books Essentialism and The One Thing, the message was so anti-hustle but the strategy worked for the long run approach.
I’ve been an entrepreneur for four years myself, and sometimes I forget how far I’ve come. You are absolutely right, I do have those deep fears of being inadequate especially when you see so many other people having explosive success in such a short period of time.
I want to thank you for this article, showing that you can be successful by taking a very long and consistent approach, and to be patient in the process.
Thanks for the note Corey. What nationality are you?
I’m a lazy Chinese dude just like you, but I woke up one day in my early 30’s and decided to become an entrepreneur. Made a tonne of mistakes but learned alot and kept moving forward.
I get really fearful of the “OLD ME”, very lazy, and unmotivated – but I’m learning how to do become a better entrepreneur. I love reading your blog posts. Your blog has amazing content and has helped me alot in my business development.
I’ve been listening to your podcast and they’re fantastic! I especially loved your podcast interview with Tony Horton!! One of my favorite podcast episodes
Excellent advice, Steve! I took your mini-course, and while my business currently resides on Etsy (financial issues require me to NOT pay for credit card processing for a website, any ideas on that one? Good idea for an article possibly – free merchant account processing other than PayPal.), it’s not doing great. I’m not expecting that. I’ve had an average of a sale every week or so for the few months I’ve been actually selling, even with less than 300 products right now. But it IS doing something, I add new items almost daily, depending on how many hours I have to put in at the Just Over Broke, and I’m building it up. I get more views and all now by a large margin than I did when I started. Sure, it’s going to take a while, and I’m okay with that. I have my Mom as an entrepreneurial example.
She started her own accounting and tax firm, and just retired last year after 26 years in business for herself. She started with a mere ten clients, which was barely enough to pay the bills. She struggled and cried a lot and worked on attracting clients, and within six months, had to hire me to do data entry just to keep up. I worked for her for over 12 years, before life and family took me in another direction, and now life is taking me in yet another, hence the Etsy shop, which I hope to eventually move to my own website.
Thanks to you, I had the nerve to start selling more than at just craft shows. It’s a slow slog, but it’s WORKING, and i’m beginning to enjoy a little freedom from the Just Over Broke, without spending a dime out of my own pocket to do so. THANKS!!
Hey Heather. I would take a look at Stripe if you haven’t already.
This was a great read, Steve! Thank you!
I am definitely guilty of burning at both ends. I was originally doing web design but I was finding that no one wanted to pay what the design, time and effort was worth. Sometimes I ended up doing jobs for less than I’d like just to make money. After 2 years of freelancing every evening and weekend and working full-time I was burnt out. Now I am turning towards product-based businesses and I hope to be signing up for your class later this year!
When you first started blogging did you have trouble coming up with content ideas or how to write to an audience? I really enjoy reading your blog but I was wondering if writing is a natural talent of yours or if you took a class or learned some other way?
Content was never a problem for me because there’s always a ton of stuff going on with my online store. But I hate writing and have to force myself to do it every week.
I’ve been following your blog for quite some time and I must say this is one of my favorite posts =) I am sooo impatient (working on that flaw) but I’ve been hearing from many successful people: the magic number seems to be 2.5 years before they see fruits of their consistent labor. I like your idea of being willing to wait forever, too!
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That’s my favorite post on your blog. AWESOME.
Discovered your blog after listening to the SPI (smartpassiveincome) podcast and am hooked! I really appreciate your perspective and advice, since I’m a father of 3 trying to start a business while still working my regular job that I like.
I love your “1 thing” outlook. Since I’m in beginning of my learning curve, it’s like drinking out of a fire hose and my reaction is to work hard as heck. That’s going to lead to burn out.
It also feels like I’m playing to an empty arena right now as I’m writing what I feel is good, valuable content but not getting many readers. You once mentioned that your blog didn’t start taking off for years until you made some changes. Did you ever cover that in a post or do you have advice for a new blogger? I hope to eventually start a podcast and online store as well!
P.S. Pac-12 pride! Am a Bruin but a fan of the Cardinal!
Steve this might have changed everything with me and my business. I just found your blog the other day and had one of those “Where have you been all my life?” moments!
As someone who has been “hustling” since 2014 with my online business and seeing a ton of ups / downs I’ve often got frustrated and wondered when I was finally going to get my permanent “break” and all my hard work would pay off. It hasn’t happened yet and almost always my response is to watch a Gary V / Grant Cardone video and work 10X harder for a month until I get frustrated again and burn out.
Reading this post made me realize I just need to chill the f*ck out and take things in stride. I love how you compared it to making a lifestyle change. That makes total sense to me and I can absolutely do that.
Thanks for the great post, you’ve definitely gained a new reader / fan!
Thanks Steve, another excellent post. I think sometimes my desire to do so many things in one day leads me to burnout sometimes and then I make less progress than if I just did one thing each day. Just like the 20 mile march.
Steve felt really refreshed after reading this post and like your down to earth genuine approach.
Timely reminder for me not to expect immediate success and compare myself to others making large sums on the the net.
Enjoy the journey and the connections made with Like minded individuals and keep trucking along, well said!
I will be keen to learn from you as someone I can trust.
I decided to read this article even though I have just started out with my blog, in the hopes that I would learn some lessons that will save me time in the future. It’s always second nature to not give 110 percent all the time, but you are right, that is just not how people actually work.
I do hope I have measurable results in a year, but I will try to be patient until that breakthrough happens.
“Our problem is that we need to keep our feelings of inadequacy in check.”
So true. It’s too easy to get disillusioned comparing the slow grind to the successes other seem to have.
Thanks for the reminder 🙂
Just discovered your blog posting. Great advice, keep up the good work!
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