It is quite usual to find commonly used terms having connotations that must be interrogated. In Zimbabwe, there are so many terms people use or identify with that they never stop to really check. Today I want to explore 3 commonly interchangeably used terms that do not necessarily mean the same. Being an entrepreneur, a business person, and a hustler are not similar as most people think. There are fundamental differences that separate them which I shall bring to your attention in this article. Ultimately the goal is to make you understand where you truly stand so that you are advised accordingly.
I am going to explore a couple of different dictionary definitions here – you will be amazed at what you will see. To hustle is to push roughly or to jostle. To hustle is to obtain illicitly or by forceful action – this definition comes from the informal use of the term in North America. This definition stands out significantly because North America is what popularized the term. Some more definitions; to hustle is to swindle by cheating or persuading someone to buy something that is worthless or compromised. To cause to move hurriedly or rapid active commotion are two other definitions. To hustle is to sell something by energetic and especially underhanded activity. I have italicized some of the standout definitions though all that I have mentioned are relevant to our discussion.
It should be abundantly clear to you what hustling really means or the connotations it carries. I know so many people identify with the term simply because it is popularly used. I appreciate many people use it but do not even do what the term ‘hustling’ underpins. Thus from today, you must cease to identify yourself with the term because it is not as glorious as you probably thought all along.
In the majority of cases, hustling entails duping people, an absence of structure in doing whatever it is you will be doing and shady activities. It usually involves speculation, trial and error, being haphazard, and being all over the place – it is chaotic for the most part. I know for many it can be hard to swallow this pill because you have been so accustomed to using the term for so long. I would urge you to unlearn it from now on. For most of you, it must actually be unlearning the true essence of what the term means which I have been explaining to you prior.
Let me delve into the business aspect; I am guessing you are already wondering how business even differs from entrepreneurship. The truth is there is of course an overlap but there some elements that actually differentiate the two. Business is the activity of providing goods and services involving financial, commercial and industrial aspects. We can also define it as an organized rollout of activities specially aimed at selling products for profit-making. You may comment, “Come on Clive, hustling and entrepreneurship also entail exactly that.” Well, I am not surprised why you would say that – there are overlaps like I said.
The fundamental distinguishing element about a business is that it is organized (typically registered), that is one. Secondly, it is majorly concerned with profit-making, which is its sole goal. A business is by nature long term and will involve well laid out strategic plans. There will also be structured standard operating procedures. However, in light of all this, the over-arching crux is to make a profit by all means.
The other thing to note on the business aspect is that it involves the pursuance of an unoriginal idea. For example, there have been taxis since time immemorial so starting an income-generating venture in taxis is a business. The unoriginality aspect is part of what differentiates a business person from an entrepreneur and that brings us to entrepreneurship.
The history of the term is fascinating but I will not detail that much in this article. I can just let you know that the term was first coined in the French dictionary in 1723 as ‘entreprendere’. It simply meant the pursuance of activities aimed at fulfilling the needs and wants of people through innovation. Over the years the term has gone through what I would term an evolution. It is somewhat difficult to coin a universal definition for entrepreneurship. This is because the definition can vary depending on function, process, or context – let me elaborate.
Something can be termed entrepreneurship by looking at the function of the lead person doing the pursuance. It can be termed so by looking at the process involved in rolling out the said activities. Then it can also be based on the context in question. A most encompassing definition of entrepreneurship, in my own words, based on various defining themes would be:
“The addressing of a common, widespread problem using a novel or disruptive solution, often tech-based, that is monetizable.”
4 attributes distinguish entrepreneurship from business in general and hustling. The apparent overlap is that profit-making is involved in all of them. However, for entrepreneurship there is:
- A significant amount of innovation – no wonder tech is usually a huge part of entrepreneurship (directly or indirectly)
- An overwhelming thrust to effect paradigm shifts – especially in how things are done
- A burning desire to create employment or contribute to the economy
- Altruism (i.e. unselfishness) which shapes the attitude of the endeavours – that is why entrepreneurs today are reported to be the biggest donors to causes that benefit communities
The Zimbabwean economy is predominantly informal. Thus we have more of hustlers, followed by businesses and not that many entrepreneurs. The good thing is that hustlers can graduate into becoming business people or entrepreneurs. The other great thing is that businesses can graduate into becoming entrepreneurs. It is also worth noting that entrepreneurship can characterize some stage(s) of a business, they overlap after all. For a nation to rise it needs more of entrepreneurship – consider Singapore as an example.