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6 things I learnt from ‘hustling’

Hustle is a popular tech/startup term – but I have never really seen anyone explain what they did when they were hustling – you just hear them say they ‘hustled’ and then they were ‘successful’. It tends to be defined as:

Anything you need to do to make money… if you making money, you hustling.

In mid 2014 I found myself with my back against the wall so to speak – work was scarce, most of my clients had gone very quiet and we had actually just bought a new family home (living in a 2 bedroom townhouse was not sustainable) – and we were moving in at the end of the month with no sign of my next ‘pay check’. My wife is a stay-at-home mom too – so there was no paycheck to rely on there either!

As a result of these circumstances I found myself having to find a way to make some money – and make it fast.

I started out by scanning the conversations, posts and articles of the people I followed on the internet to find opportunities that aligned with my key strengths/skill-set – and remembered a few posts I had read on the Creative Market blog earlier in the year where they had started to share what some of their shop owners were earning selling on Creative Market – as I already had a shop on Creative Market I decided to give it a second chance.

For some background – I started my Creative Market shop early – just after they had launched and felt I saw an opportunity to create design related templates for the new launched Sketch software which was starting to become very popular as an alternative to Adobe Photoshop. I spent a good few evenings and weekend working on a mobile UI kit based on the then iOS 6 – and launched it – expecting great success – and it did get some immediate sales – but literally within days Apple upgraded to iOS 7 and with it came a whole new visual style – which my UI kit no longer catered to – and my sales stopped immediately. At this stage, I was contracted to work with a company – and the thought of having to do all the work over again and use up my evenings and weekends was not that appealing – so I put my Creative Market shop on ice.

Fast forward to 2014 – and I felt I would have a go at creating some products that I could sell on my Creative Market shop again – but I needed to make sure that the products I created could be made quickly so that I could generate sales across a range of products as soon as possible – and so I ended up having to ‘hustle’.

Now more than a year later I thought I would share my experience on what it meant to hustle:

H – Hard work
It’s important to realise that making anything of value is going to take hard work – you can try make a product quickly – but if you want to really ensure your product will stand out and be recognised then you going to need to put in the hard work it deserves. It also means not making sure you have all the perfect tools for the job – I used the old floor in my new house as the backdrop, collected items from my in-laws collection (they hoard stuff) and took photographs over the weekends while my two children had their afternoon sleep – trying to make sure I did not wake them up in the process as I crept around the wooden floor and making sure the photographing session was done by the time they woke up.

U – Understand
Try to understand the mindset of your customer – put yourself in their shoes and look at what value your product brings to them – will it make their life easier, simpler – can they design faster with your product etc?

S – Strengths
Don’t try to create products around a style that you aren’t familiar with as your first products – identify what your strengths are – and play to them – you will find you can get your products out much faster. If you still having to learn on the job, it’s not impossible, it just makes it that little bit harder.

T – Trust
At some point along the way you are going to have to trust the decisions you have made. Not every product or idea you come up with will be right. Just don’t give up at the first roadblock you experience. Learn from it and don’t do it again.

L – Luck
As you go you will start to find new doors and opportunities opening along the way for your ideas and or products. Don’t be shy – seize them and enjoy your success.

E – Enjoy
Lastly, and most importantly – make sure that you are actually enjoying what you are doing – as your customers will see your enjoyment through the time and effort you are putting into your products and the way you interact with them.

In the end, I made quite a bit of money during this period – and while hustling was great – it’s not something I feel you can sustain for a long period of time. I used the opportunity that I got from my sales to pursue other ideas and options and a year later find myself working as part of a great team on some really amazing products – applying a lot of what I learnt during that period of my life to my day-to-day job.

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