What is Street Hustling

street hustling

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Street hustling is a loosely used term in Nigeria that reflects on the activities in the informal economic sector. It is often characterised by being able to do any kind of job no matter how demeaning such kinds of jobs are considered.

This is gaining more prominence due to the wide economic inequalities created by the unemployment gap. As a result of the fact that the corporate jobs are fewer than the amount of graduates from the nations tertiary institutions.

However, you will agree that there are different forms of street hustling in other parts of the world that would mean entirely different things in those concepts. One thing to note though is the active word ‘hustling’ which means to do whatever is in your power to survive the circumstances you find yourself in.

Why do Nigerians engage in street hustling

  1. High unemployment rates
  2. Financial and economic barriers to starting a business
  3. As a means of survive

Pros of street hustling

Street hustling is an entry level into entrepreneurship. It is one of the easiest ways to create income generating avenues. In some cases depending on your credibility and determination you can venture into this informal business sector with no money.

Everything and every opportunity is an avenue to make money. For instance you can help your neighbours source for clean water and they pay you per litre of water supplied. Even in low income earning communities there are varying opportunities to make money.

During intense traffic, communities can block access roads and collect money from passersby who want to use that road to access. Although some of these means of generating revenues are extreme, you will agree that street hustling has helped to reduce the unemployment rate in Nigeria.

PWC recently wrote about how touts pocket billions of Lagos transport revenue. Read full article in PDF 

Cons of street hustling

A largely unregulated informal sector means that it is free for all sessions. Most people take advantage of this to produce substandard products or in some cases outright harmful or illegal products. Some years ago I read about people packaging water drawn from wells as sachet or bottled water to sell in traffic. They do so by picking the used bottles of the original bottle water, filling it up and re-sealing the cork

Some of the extreme means of street hustling leads to violence from street hustlers who would often go to any length to secure their daily bread. Rumors have it that in the famous computer village, you purchase and take home a wrapped fufu instead of the flashy phone or gadget you paid for.

7 lessons from street hustling

  1. Be vigilant and read the fine prints

One has to be very careful about any business dealings you are having in the streets or in the board rooms. You need to understand and pay attention to every detail. You need to check every fine print to ensure that you are not gifted a trojan horse or being taken advantage of. 

  1. Don’t be afraid of criticism

People will criticise your every move, but you have to show your grit and tenacity. You are already taking so much risk to put yourself out there and you have to have the ability to brush off criticism and rejection. Move on to the next client, or the next ear or person who would give you attention. Street hustlers don’t even listen to your criticism because for them the stakes are high, they want to make a sale to allow them to eat their next meal. Rather than wasting time on critics they look for opportunities to achieve their goal for the day.

  1. Promote yourself

Self-promotion is a necessary part of being a street hustler. They will blow their trumpets with every chance they get. They will show you how the product or service matches your needs. All it takes sometimes is just a glance in their direction and they will follow you until you are too embarrassed and make a purchase from them.

You need to be dedicated in letting people know that your products/services are the answers to their problems and get as much people talking about you and your business

  1. Never make excuses

Excuses are tools of incompetence. Of Course there are a thousand and one reasons why it should be done and everyone already knows those reasons. Don’t join the crowd and follow the path of excuses, it never gets anything done. Street hustlers create opportunities for themselves, they make things happen.

  1. Carry yourself with confidence

Confidence is the backbone of any street hustler and business person. You have to believe in your ability to deliver and carry yourself that way. A street hustler will sell anything to you because they exude such confidence that you have no choice but to believe every word that comes out of their mouth.

  1. Never lean back

You have to keep a consistent energy of pushing for the things you want. Keep driving towards your goal even when you don’t hit the bull’s eye sometimes. That consistent energy will transform you into a master of your craft. This is what sets hustlers apart from every other person.

  1. Make Connections

Connect with people as much as you can. Be strategic about it also because your connections would form a springboard from which you launch yourself to achieve your goals and create win-win scenarios for everyone.

Street hustlers can borrow products from their colleagues to sell to their clients even when they might not make any money from that transaction. However they want the client to trust them and build that impression that they will go to any length to get them what they want. This can be a very good way of building business connections that stand the test of time.

Hustling is not a bad thing. It has to do with the tenacity and grit you are willing to commit to get your goals. You need that consistent energy to motivate yourself and break through your own self-doubt and limitation to create value for yourself and everyone around you.

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