Hustle culture is pretty common in the start-up world. It’s almost as if every founder’s story begins with how the road to success isn’t achievable without 80-hour weeks and the constant push to produce more. What started as an environment dominated by excitement, limitless learning, growth opportunities and an all-hands-on-deck mentality, hustle culture has evolved into something new, now causing more trouble than it’s worth. Hustle culture can significantly enhance growth and productiv
oductivity, but only in the short term. Ironically, in the long term, hustle culture inhibits company growth. Curbing hustle culture and adopting a sustainable, long-term growth mindset are paramount to retaining the best talent and ensuring business profitability. How start-ups can make life/work balance a reality In our company, Paperform, we call this life/work balance, not work/life balance. We believe in the significance of life beyond your work, in other words, we want to tip work/life balance back towards life. 1. Consider your avenues to scale your business While venture capital (VC) funding is a popular avenue for founders looking to accelerate their growth, it’s not always the best way to scale and no founder should consider it the holy grail of fast growth. Start-ups with VC funding are often subjected to unrealistic growth plans and expectations. This pressure can cause a swing in the work–life balance pendulum, with employees working longer hours and taking on more responsibility to achieve what can be unattainable goals. Before going down the VC path, founders should be aware that while external investment can provide them with additional cash, it often results in them losing control and authority over the business they spent years building. If the pathway to long-term success through external investment isn’t what you envision, it’s worth looking for different growth avenues and resetting business growth objectives with alternative pathways, including bootstrapping, crowdfunding or sourcing for angel investors. 2. Establishing strong company values Identify your core values and define them clearly and concisely. By communicating your values to your team from day one and incorporating them into your hiring process, you’re able to build a more aligned and engaged team that you enjoy working with. Establishing an open culture with wellbeing at its centre will help employees feel a sense of belonging and motivation to propel the business forward. 3. Collaboration and teamwork are key Start-ups, often running on lean team structures with limited resources, are heavily dependent on their number-one asset, their employees. Without talent, start-ups are like a train with no engines, without the means or manpower to move forward. Occasional overtime is unavoidable with some deadlines impossible to meet within an eight-hour work day. But if someone is consistently putting in overtime, managers must be aware and take action. One of the key benefits of a start-up is its flat organisational structure, so use it to your advantage and frequently engage with your team to understand any challenges they’re facing. Taking a sustainable approach to growing a start-up Every founder starting a business has ambitions to become the next unicorn. But setting goals this large from the outset may unknowingly put employees under stress, creating a negative hustle culture producing into an unhealthy infatuation with burnout, overwork, and chronic stress. As a founder, it is key to take a step back, find the optimal pace and direction of your growth, and align it with your core values and mission. Once you have that perspective, you’ll be able to implement a sustainable growth mindset from the top down. Sustainable might not sound as exciting at the beginning, but it’ll put your business on the path to long-term profitability, without falling victim to hustle culture. This story first appeared on sister site Inside Small Business and has been republished with permission.