Hustle culture as we typically think of it (GaryVee style where you’re giving up 10 years of your life with the hope to be a millionaire one day kind of thing—I’ve got more thoughts on Gary Vee in this post) is toxic and incredibly damaging.

But you’ll often hear me and other ambitious entrepreneurs say that there is a time for hustle.

We’ll tell you that no entrepreneur peddling the idea that you can have a 10 hour workweek right out the gate started out that way. They all hustled in the beginning. Every single one of them.

So what do we actually mean when we say that “hustling” is toxic but it’s sometimes necessary? And how does it relate to marketing?

Hustle Culture vs. Hustle Mindset

For me, it comes down to hustle mindset versus hustle culture.

Hustle culture is the toxic lifestyle we know and do not love. Hustle culture is:

1. The idea that you have to hustle 24/7 or your dreams will never be your reality.

2. The idea that sacrificing your health, relationships, and sanity is necessary to be successful.

3. The idea that hustling is the only way to make it.

However, hustle mindset is different. Hustle mindset is dedication, it’s hard work, it’s focus on getting to your goal. It’s giving a big middle finger to anyone who doesn’t believe you can get there… even if that someone is the negative voice inside your own head.

When Hustle is Needed

Now, my abhorrence of hustle culture doesn’t mean that hustle and hustle mindset doesn’t have its place. In fact, there are times when entrepreneurs need that hustle, especially in the beginning.

Hustle is needed when:

  • You’re starting from scratch.
  • You’re trying to breakthrough to another level.
  • You have big goals in your business.
  • You need to prove yourself, especially to yourself.

These are all times when hustle mindset is incredibly helpful because hustle mindset is about dedication, focus, and determination. It’s about working hard towards a goal, even when (and especially when) no one else believes you can do it.

I remember starting my business in the last month of my maternity leave.

(Side note, I say start because it’s when I really started to take it seriously. In reality, I’d been side hustlin’ and freelancing and entrepreneur-ing my way through the previous 10 years of my life.)

I had three older kids from toddler to teen and a brand new velcro baby. I was desperate to be home with my family, to ditch my two hour commute to downtown Atlanta and my anti-remote job. I gave myself 21 days to match my corporate salary, and I hustled my butt off.

I worked in the gaps of my day.

I worked during naptimes and after bedtime.

I took discovery calls while I nursed the baby.

I generated leads and marketed my business while I helped my older kids with homework at the dining room table.

I embraced the hustle in those moments because I needed BIG results in a short amount of time. However, that kind of hustle (as valuable as it can be in the short term) is not sustainable!

And when I was just 18 days into my 21 day deadline, I hit my goal and put on the hustle brakes. I shifted into hustle mindset where I was determined and ambitious without putting myself on the road to burn out.

(I also hired help, specifically a VA and a nanny!)

The key here is that hustle mindset is not hustle culture. They are two very different things. One is toxic and damaging, while the other is focused and driven. It’s built for long haul success. As an entrepreneur, you need to know the difference so you can decide when hustle is needed… and when it’s time to slow down.

For me, that’s how this whole idea of hustle and flow ties into marketing.

There’s a time in marketing when you’ve got a lot of balls in the air, and you’re the one juggling them. You may be joining me during the next Passion to Profit Accelerator or you’re learning all you can about growing and marketing your business. You’re putting in the work while still respecting your own needs and boundaries. You’re in control and deciding when to work longer hours to get a big payoff and when that’s not serving you—that’s healthy hustle!

And then there’s a time to relax into the flow. You’re delegating some of those balls, you’re hiring people like me as a marketing consultant for your business, or you’re bringing on additional team members.

How to Know When It’s Time to Slow Down

On that note, knowing when to slow down is just as important as knowing when to embrace the hustle. After all, hustle culture is not sustainable (or desirable) in the long run. So how do you know when it’s time to shift from hustle mode into hustle mindset?

For me, a few signs that I need to shift into that are:

  • You’re exhausted all the time.
  • You have no work/life balance.
  • You’re sacrificing your health or relationships.
  • You’ve lost sight of your goals.
  • Your business is suffering because of your hustle.

Hustling 24/7 is not going to get you where you want to be in life or business. In fact, it’s more likely to lead to burnout, poor decision making, and ultimately, failure.

Healthy hustle is really all about being dedicated and disciplined in the pursuit of your dreams instead of all-out-sacrifice-everything-for-10-years-to-be-a-millionaire toxic work ethic.

Shifting Into Strategic Mode

Obviously, I work in marketing, and I joke all the time that marketing is kind of like the laundry and dishes of business. It’s the thing that you have to keep doing every single day, day in and day out, and so it can very quickly feel like you’re trudging through it.

Like a dull household chore that resets every day.

Worse, if you’re not careful, and you’re not keeping those metrics moving forward, it feels like you’re not making any progress.

But the cool thing about marketing—and the thing that helps it not feel like you’re Sisyphus every day—is that there is so much potential for it to be all about rejuvenation and connection and excitement in your business.

When you’re got that healthy hustle mindset AND a killer marketing strategy behind you, you can hustle in a way that feels good and respects your boundaries, and you’ll actually see the needle move on important things in your business.

Like your revenue.

The number of people you’re helping—your impact.

Number of leads coming in, of people who want to work with you.

Combining strategy with that hustle in the right way means your hard work will actually pay off.

And THAT is the kind of hustle I’m talking about.

So if you’re feeling hustle fatigue, or like you’re stuck in a rut, it may be time to take a step back and assess your strategy. See where you can delegate or outsource some things, and make sure you’re still hustling in a way that aligns with your needs and the kind of business and lifestyle you want to have.

At the end of the day, marketing and hustle and business growth are all just vehicles. So make sure they’re taking you where you actually want to go.