My brother had an interesting job over the holiday season: selling fireworks. Fireworks are incredibly popular in the South on New Years, and every year a caravan of his friends goes to work a firework tent in Alabama. It gives them a chance to get away and make some quick money over the course of a week.
Thanks to some awful weather, sales were way down in my brother’s tent, selling only around $2,000 worth of fireworks in about a week. But on New Years Eve their tent sold over $11,000 alone. Sure, that sounds pretty normal considering that lots of people buy fireworks just on New Years Eve. Yet my brother had more than doubled every other tent’s sales that day.
And he did it in a really boring way. He hustled.
In the fireworks world (and customer service in general), people hate two things: waiting and waiting. Nobody wants to wait in line. Especially if there are plenty of other options all around you. My brother and his friend quickly learned that if they focused all of their attention on a) quickly restocking and b) moving people through the checkout line lighting fast, they retained more customers and sold more.
While the rest of the competition in other tents were lazily moving boxes and inefficiently stocking, my brother and his friend were busting their humps. So instead of customers waiting in line at other tents, they bought fireworks at the tent that had well-stocked shelves and fast-moving lines (not to mention a full parking lot).
For whatever reason, people seem to think that working more efficiently is the key. Sure, we have finite resources and there’s only 24 hours in a day, etc. etc. etc. But I’ve noticed that we’re becoming increasingly enamored with finding the better or faster solution, and not focusing on the important things in front of us.
And that’s when it becomes really dangerous.
When you’re spending all of your time working on ways to streamline, brainstorm, and all those things that are just sad excuses for action, then you’re not focusing on what’s important.
You’re the fireworks stand with poorly-stocked shelves and slow lines. And all you had to do was focus on the basics of your operation.
Gary Vaynerchuk’s latest book has had a huge impact on me. I initially thought it was going to be your basic, run-of-the-mill “YOU CAN DO IT!” book on creating your own business. But it was so much more than that.
Gary is walking proof that hustle is a gajillion times more important than workflows, pie charts, and a well-groomed business plan. Not to say that he wasn’t incredibly smart in building his empire (because he was). He just did all the little things that other people really don’t want to do to become successful. Gary’s book is great for showing that ultimately, if you’re not passionate and constantly hustling (Gary’s favorite word), then you’re already dead in the water.
We like to spend ways finding the next big thing that will save us an hour a day, or make us a buck more, or give us just a bit more happiness. But really, a simple routine is what powers your business. You can only start worrying about streamlining and saving once you’ve got the system in place.
As we enter this new decade, hustle is going to become more and more crucial to becoming successful. The internet has matured enough so that nearly every vertical is saturated. If you’re going to start a venture, odds are there will already be players in your field. They already have the marketshare so you’ll have to steal it. How?
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