As a user of social media and online marketing it has been fascinating to me to see the emergence of ideas that will "drive success." On one hand, you have Gary Vaynerchuk, who has a massive focus on hustling, giving things 100 percent, and working hard. On another extreme we have the constant promotion of "life hacks", and Tim Ferris with his "four hour work week." What is the right answer?
In my experience, and in the experience of countless other successful entrepreneurs and business leaders, there is a formula for business success, and it goes something like this:
1. Have a Great Business Idea
2. Have a Plan for Executing and Building Your Business
3. Set Goals and Key Milestones to Measure Your Results
4. Build a World-Class Team
5. Execute Like Crazy and Work Hard to Win
6. Find Ways to Improve the Productivity of Your Team and Yourself
7. Constantly Be in Learning Mode
8. Find Non-Destructive Ways to Stay Fresh and Recharge Your Batteries
Working Hard and Hustling
I remember my coaches in little league baseball yelling at me, "Hustle!" This isn't the hustle of scamming someone, this is the hustle of run your hardest and fastest. In this context, there was a goal: get around the bases as fast as you can without getting thrown out, with the ultimate objective of scoring a runs.
I am personally a proponent of working hard and hustling. However, hard work alone will not lead to success in business. My dad is one of the hardest working people that I know, and he had limited career success. Although he was able to provide a middle class lifestyle to his family, he never achieved wealth, or personal financial security. Yet, there is no substitute for working hard in business success.
Working Smart and Focusing
Working smart is also essential for business success, but it is not a substitute for hard work. Look at any athlete, business leader, or entrepreneur that has achieved sustained success over any reasonable length of time, and you will find someone that works hard and smart.
How do you know if you're working smart? As an entrepreneur, you understand your business objectives and you set goals. The goals need to be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, results oriented, and time bound). Then, you need to focus. You need to ask yourself every day and every hour if the stuff that you are doing is in alignment with your goals or not. If it is, then you are working smart. If it is not, then you can work extremely hard and not accomplish much business success.
Does that mean that you can never have fun, and never have any recreation? Not at all. Having down time is part of a smart plan, but you should also find work that you love so that you can find fun in work, if you want to be successful in business.
Working Productively and Hacking
I also believe in finding ways to enhance your productivity, but don't find that life hacks are a substitute for working long hours. I also think that universal batching, universally turning-off alerts, and ignoring the news, are some of the dumbest business ideas of our decade. You don't put your customers or employees into a pile and address things as you have time. Please, be a little smarter than that!
The Essential Nature of Goals and Focus
In my experience, nothing much positive happens in this life unless you are goal oriented and driven toward success and achievement. You need to have goals and you need to have a plan. Of course, you will make changes and adjustments as circumstances unfold, but that is not an excuse to not have a plan. A focus on winning is essential in a successful business venture, and in order to measure if you are winning, you need to have goals and set milestones that you can measure.
In our culture today, the culture of busyness, everyone is overwhelmed. I understand the temptation to find and create life hacks that simplify this. We used to call it "finding ways to be more productive." However, what I have found to be the formula to success in business and entrepreneurship is to work hard, work smart, and constantly look for ways to be more productive. You can't leave out any part of this. See yourself as a smart work machine. How much smart output can you create in the least amount of time. Your goal is to not only beat your competition, but to crush your competition. You want to beat your competition so badly that you not only leave them in your dust, but they can't even see your dust.