Often, we hear many Kenyans, especially younger ones, claim that they are “hustling” or are “hustlers”. The term has been greatly glamorized by contemporary music and film culture and is now embraced by many Kenyans as a means to get rich. Generally defined, hustling is making money by whatever means available; the primary aim is to get rich or at least make ends meet. The urban dictionary defines it as, ‘…making money out of everything no matter what it is…’ while the Macmillan dictionary states that hustling is ‘to get money or goods in a dishonest way or by selling sex’.
In hustling, how the money is made isn’t really important, but what IS important is that profit is made at the end of a “hustle”. Money is the end justifiable by whatever means. So for instance, a teenager who sells porn to his peers is a successful hustler because he makes money in the end regardless of the social impact the porn has on his customers and others. Another successful hustler steals phones from unsuspecting passengers in matatus and then sells them for a neat profit.
While these are only negative examples, this is not to say that hustling cannot be positive or good. But because making money is the sole purpose of hustling, it can easily lead to bad business practices like swindling people or illegal activities like selling drugs. “What does it matter if I made some cash in the end?” Not only that, but hustling has now come to be associated with such negative business.
Entrepreneurs on the other hand, generate profit by adding value in some way; value that is then paid for by customers. An easy example is a farmer who grows tomatoes which are then sold to a market or broker, and eventually end up on somebody’s dinner table, thereby adding positive value through nourishment or their good taste. Entrepreneurs exploit needs in a society by providing positive solutions for a price. I know this makes entrepreneurs sound like angels, but even making money by doing something as simple as washing cars for a price is entrepreneurial because of the positive value added to car owners or drivers.
Therefore, in your bid to strike it rich, or at least make enough money to live well through business, define yourself: Are you going to be a hustler or an entrepreneur? The former could drive you to turn on friends, family and business partners for the sake of profit while the latter will ensure you remain legitimate and open you up to endless opportunities.
Just ask yourself, are any of the biggest companies in Kenya where they are today because they hustled their way to get there? Obviously not. Furthermore, a casual observation will reveal that hustlers seldom ever succeed beyond a certain point, and if they do they often leave a trail of disgruntled people or a very bad reputation behind them (e.g. corrupt businessmen). This is what I have observed. Take some time and observe for yourself.