Show the Right Hustle on Small Business Saturday

It seems we like to name everything lately. So, if you didn’t know, the Saturday after Black Friday and before Cyber Monday is now Small Business Saturday.  I was asked to write a post on promos and campaigns small businesses can run to capitalize on the special day, but something else is on my mind today.


I’ve been traveling a bunch lately, speaking at a ton of different events from San Diego to Atlanta to Chicago. As I fat-finger this post on my iPhone, I’m on a plane headed for Toronto. The reason I tell you this is because I just had a simple, yet profound experience during a layover in Philadelphia.

I had a few minutes to grab a bite to eat in between flights. As I surveyed my options in the terminal I noticed two restaurants, side-by-side, with drastic differences. One had a long line and the other had none. For that reason alone I decided to get in the long line. I figured the locals must know where the good food is.

After 30 seconds I realized why Eat At Joe’s had a huge line and next door they sat, waiting. Hustle. The right kind of hustle.  That’s it. That was the secret. There was man behind the counter working the crowd. Every time someone would walk by he would shout out “Philly cheese steaks here! Don’t go home, don’t leave Philly without one.” His energy was contagious. People lined up at his command.

I began to wonder. We often get caught up in the latest tactics. We search high and low for the hottest tools. We get amped on our amazing technology. We’re connected day and night trying to make our businesses go. We’re hustling. But is it the right hustle?

All the SEO in the world doesn’t do any good, inbound marketing is a waste, and the latest email marketing trick is in vain if we don’t ask for the business.  One wise man, speaking to parents, said “No other successes can compensate for failure in the home.”  I also believe that for business owners, no other successes can compensate for failure to sell.

It might make you uncomfortable. It might make some of your prospects uncomfortable. But in the end, nothing can substitute for asking for the sale. We can keep ourselves busy, really busy, thinking we’re hustling and therefore the business should grow. But sometimes we avoid the right kind of hustle – asking for the business.

Why do we avoid it?  It’s hard.  It’s taxing.  When people say no, it hurts.  We hate rejection.  We want success.  But the avoidance of rejection causes us to miss out on success.  The avoidance is illogical.  When we sell successfully, it feels great.  The bills get paid.  It creates a euphoric high.  But for many people, the fear is greater than the reward.  So, we stay busy with less important things, convincing ourselves that we’re doing meaningful work.

Here are a few tips for getting serious about sales hustle:

  • Focus on your higher purpose. You’re not selling just to make a buck.  You have a product or service that makes a difference in people’s lives.  Don’t let another person pass you by without the opportunity to improve their life with your product or service.
  • Turn it into a game. Keep track of how many times you ask for the business in one day. Try to beat that number the next day.  Keep track of how many accept versus reject. Try to improve your conversion.
  • Find an accountability partner. If you’re having trouble actually doing it, find someone who will hold your feet to the fire and ask you on a daily basis how your progress is coming.  If you have no one who will do this for you, comment on this post – I’ll check in with you regularly (and publicly).
  • Practice. If you feel uncomfortable saying the words, practice.  Sit in front of a mirror and say them to yourself over and over and over until they sound natural.  Then practice with a friend.  Practice until the words come out with 100 percent confidence. Nothing wavering.

So, on Small Business Saturday, whether you’re taking the day off or out there hustling, make a commitment to get back to the basics and ask for the business. It will probably do more good for your business than anything else.

As I picked up my order and walked away from Eat At Joe’s, I noticed a passer-by standing in between the two restaurants, reviewing the menus, trying to decide. I smiled as the man from behind the counter boomed:

“Hey man, you’re on the wrong side of the rope. Get over here and get you a Philly cheese steak.”

The man promptly obeyed. One more customer – just because he asked. He hustled the right kind of hustle.  What about you?

Image from Yuri Arcurs/Shutterstock

More in: 15 Comments ▼

Tyler Garns Tyler Garns, Business & Marketing Strategist at Tyler Garns Marketing LLC, has over 10 years of experience in the field and is a recognized expert in Internet marketing. Tyler specializes in building "done-for-you" campaigns. You can follow him on the Tyler Garns Blog.

15 Reactions
  1. Practice (in the PPC world we usually call it “testing”) is key because it allows you to quickly figure out what works and what doesn’t work. I’m sure that guy has yelled hundreds of different things to his potential customers to bring them in and as he has practiced he has refined his message. He probably can recognize different types of travelers and customizes the message to them. That’s the right kind of hustle indeed.

  2. Great piece Tyler. Most small business people are not trained in sales and therefore don’t know how to close. The example you presented is in fact the close with is presentation being the storefront. Nowadays the ‘laydowns’ are fewer and farther between.

    A S K = G E T

  3. “Ask for the sale” – sometimes we just have stick to the sales fundamentals !.

  4. Tyler, this post may just rank as my all time favorite for 2011. Wow. I was just writing some things that hint at this for my SBA blog, but yours is much more in line with what I wanted to say! Profound. It’s like that in Seattle at the Pike Place Market — people come to see them throw fish, or that’s what they think. They come because that team knows how to engage and encourage you to stop. They actually don’t throw the fish as often as they shout out to you as you walk by or stand there. Bravo. Great post to start the Thanksgiving weekend with — what am I thankful for? Being friends with Tyler Garns. Thanks bro!

  5. Thanks everyone for your comments. And thanks TJ for being my friend. 🙂 I’m also grateful for our friendship. It’s interesting, I also feel like this post can have more impact for small businesses than other posts that I’ve written. Yet, the response is not as great. This post has been shared less. It makes my wonder why. The title of the post isn’t catchy. It’s not “7 simple tips for …”. The title doesn’t mention social media. Etc. The other reason I think it hasn’t been shared as much as other posts is because some people want to ignore the fact that they have to sell. They’d rather stick their head in the sand, cross their fingers, and hope that a few tweets, a facebook status update, and a blog post will bring in the revenue.

    • Actually, Tyler, I thought this was a profound post and it has stuck with me since I read it yesterday — more than many other posts. I just didn’t have anything to add worth leaving a comment about.

      And I think part of the issue about the response may be the time of the year. This is a slow week as a lot of business people checked out mentally for Thanksgiving starting last week. It’s historically been one of the slower weeks traffic-wise, for business sites, in the decade I’ve been online.

  6. Hi Tyler:

    Thank you for writing this post. It makes me stop and think again about why I am determined to succeed in my network marketing business, and you’ve included practical tips that can help me stay focused on my goals.

    Maybe this blog hasn’t been shared as much because what you’ve written is an uncomfortable reminder that making sales is about being persistent and following up – 6 or more personal contacts before someone says ‘yes’. That’s a lot of work, thick skin and commitment!!

    My difficulty with sales is fairly typical. I know it’s not about me when someone says ‘no’ – it’s about them and their needs and timing. Yet, I have a challenge shaking off the perception that I’ve been rejected – you know that sick feeling like I’ve said/done something wrong. It’s tough to keep going every day, to not crawl back into my cocoon of ‘safety’ – which means distracting myself as you described, with e-mail, organizing files, creating training documents, doing research for my blog, spending unproductive time on Facebook/Twitter/Linked In, etc.

    To keep going I have to make a daily commitment to remind myself of a few facts – the reasons why I got into this business in the first place:

    I KNOW that the products I sell transform people’s health and wellness and/or finances. I believe in them.
    I KNOW I have to ask more people more questions to qualify them without them even knowing what I’m doing – to remove the risk of being told ‘no’.
    I KNOW I have to get out of my own way and remind myself constantly why I’m doing this.
    I KNOW I’m persistent and not a quitter.
    I KNOW I have to stay focused on my ‘why’. My personal ‘why’ is to become financially independent, and my professional why is to help people who are ready to transform their health and wellness.

    When I keep going and reach my daily target of 3 new contacts a day, it’s only because for one more hour or one more day, I’ve been able to distract myself from giving in to the power of those ever-present negative voices in my head that say “If I really ‘go for it’ and still can’t make a success of this business, what then?” I can’t control what people want and when they want it.

    All I can control is me and my thoughts and that’s an ever-vigilent task!

    I was at a seminar recently and heard some words to live by: ‘We have the power and ability to either think a thought or dismiss it. Every negative thought that’s in my mind is there because I’ve given it permission to be there.”

  7. Thanks Anita & Wendy for your comments. Wendy, good luck with your business. Keep holding yourself accountable to your commitments and you’ll be successful no matter what. A good example to look to is this site’s creator, Anita Campbell. She’s been writing on this blog for years. She consistently wrote and did her thing for years even when there were only a few visitors. Now, she has one of the most popular small business blogs on the planet. Anita – you’re amazing!

  8. Tyler, great post, observations and advice. Thank you. Living near PHL and passing through the airport a lot, I wondered why I haven’t noticed that place – probably because I have just eaten or am just about to at home! Your post made me ponder the underlying essence of when and why ppl sell like that and when they don’t. Your point about it not being about the tools was the clue. To my mind, it’s a mix of passion, sincerity and conviction. Take any one away and it’s harder to sustain that attitude, even when we know we should. But like great team work, it’s often a plateau stage that ppl work toward and find it difficult to maintain. Thx for the thoughts.

  9. Greg, Thanks for your comment. “Passion, sincerity, and conviction” – I like that. Those are definitely a big piece of the puzzle. Thanks again. See you around.

  10. Solid post Tyler. Good marketing can make the sales step almost automatic. Almost. There’s still no excuse for weak-ass salesmanship where passion, sincerity and conviction are totally missing. That fumbling approach kills opportunity and drives people away.