Six reasons why hustlers succeed
Well-educated Kenyans are always dismayed by the success of hustlers – the men and women they consider failures. They scrapped though school, yet they now seem to jump over most hurdles, making money and snapping up assets despite looking shabby and unsophisticated. What are their secrets?
1. They learn as they do
When in school, the bright guys focused on books and their theories. They forgot that most of the knowledge in textbooks can’t give you any money; it’s too public and often outdated. In Kenya, it’s also often out of context. Examples of weather we have never experienced leave us spell-bound. Hustlers have no time for theories. They learn as they do, which ensures they are very realistic. When theorists are doing feasibility studies, the hustler is already making money. And because they rarely have lots of money in one project, they don’t worry about the risk; it’s taken care of by the many hustles they run. Hustlers know how to diversify.
2. They start early
Their other secret is that they start early. Interviews with hustlers show they started some of their hustles when still in school, selling bread or pencils to their classmates. That gives them a head start. They get insights into things like profit margins, sourcing and risk taking. Non-hustlers only read about these things in textbooks. Hustlers are willing to start small, but textbooks talk of big projects, how to value them and calculate their returns. Such projects are few and out of reach for the vast majority.
3. They are not slaves to details
They are not slaves of functional areas like marketing, accounting, operations and so on. This makes it easy for them to see the bigger picture. Specialisation for non-hustlers blurs their focus and blinds them to opportunities.
4. They never give up
Hustlers are persistent. Without the security of papers, like degree certificates, failing is not an option. Hustling is about their lives and livelihood. Some hustlers do not have the security of parents, relatives or even the Government. Their success is their security.
5. They are proud
Hustlers succeed for another reason: they are very proud. We mistakenly think they wallow in self-pity. Most are very happy to be independent, make ends meet, take care of their families and succeed despite being thought of as failures by society.
6. They are eternal optimists
Finally, hustlers are dreamers, they believe that one day, they shall stop hustling and rest. Some do; others keep at it until their feeble bodies finally crumble to dust.