The Indie Hustle

Posted on June 4, 2015

I was reminded recently of episode #216: The Hustle of David Smith’s excellent Developing Perspective podcast. “Reminded” isn’t really the right word, though. It’s more that it’s stuck with me since I originally listened to it in April. In that episode, David talks (among other things) about the importance of hustle for an indie developer. And he’s right. Hustle is an essential part of indie life.

As an indie, you have to always be on the look out for the next opportunity. When you find it, you have to grasp it. And when you don’t, you have to manufacture it. You’ve always got to be looking for the next client, the next line of business, the next marketing opportunity. You’ve got to hustle. You’ve got to recognize and exploit any advantage you have over often larger competitors. And even when you don’t find opportunity or advantage – especially when you don’t find opportunity or advantage – you’ve got to take steps to create it.

Indies need to create those opportunities and advantages because they don’t have a lot of room for error. Pick the wrong product at the wrong time, and you’ll soon find yourself looking for work. Pick the wrong client or the wrong rate, and you’ll find your contracting business in peril. Hustle is a force multiplier. It gives you wiggle room to recover from a mistake. It gives you another path to pursue when a door shuts in your face.

I didn’t use to think that I had hustle. If you had asked me 10 years ago, “hustle” wouldn’t have been a word that I would have used to describe myself. But, as it turns out, I was wrong. Over the last several years, particularly since I started my business, I’ve discovered that I hustle pretty well. But if you don’t, don’t worry – it’s a learnable skill. Keep an eye out for areas of expertise that you have access to, and then brainstorm products that might come from them. Look for an audience for your product or service, and then approach that audience. Find resources you have access to, and then use those resources. In short, find your advantage and then take action. Today.