Should We Legitimize the Black Man’s Hustle?

HustleBy Lawrence A. Robinson
What is the purpose of business? Is it to make money? Is it to increase stock holder’s equity? There are many different answers and most could be considered correct. I was taught that the purpose of business; ‘Is to create long term repeat customers.’

It doesn’t matter if you are selling houses or if you are pushing burger and fries, you want that customer to return to your business the next time they want a purchase, right? You treat the customer with respect and attention and your pricing is such that the customer considers you fair and competitive.

So, by definition, if you are not trying to create long term repeat customers, then you don’t have a business, what you have is a hustle. When you are hustling, you are not overly concerned about repeat customers. You are interested in making as much cash as you can at this moment. The hustler is selling something that maybe is in short supply and his potential customer has an urgent need for that item or service. After the deal is made, everyone is satisfied. The seller made extra for a limited item and the customer received a much needed benefit.

On most workday morning, my wife and I drive in together on our way to our respective offices. I drop her off at her tax office and then I would double back and make the twenty minute trip to my office.

Often we hit the drive-thru for a breakfast burger or early lunch snack. The order taker recognizes my voice when I make the order and we exchange greetings. When I get to the window, they already know that my wife and I would like to have a second bag to separate our food and we don’t have to remind them. Everyone who works the window knows to give us a second bag.

When we leave the fast food window, I quickly turn the corner to take my wife to her office. When I make that turn, there is a guy on the corner, hawking drinks and bean pies. When I drop my wife off and double back, that guy has position himself in the intersection to gain easy access to my car as I approach the corner. I have the exact amount of change ready for him so that we don’t delay traffic to much. We exchange greetings, he places my items on the passenger seat and I hand him the correct change.

The drive through employees and the bean pie/drink guy are working hard for my business and I appreciate the efforts of both operations. I feel that they are working to make me into a long term repeat customer. Both are succeeding.

These are two independent legal businesses. One is brick and mortar, and the other is a mobile peddler. Yet, in reality, one is called a business and the other is called a hustle. One gets respect and accolades for being a pillar of the community and the other is thought of in somewhat derogatory terms.


The so called ‘hustler’ is doing everything that the brick and mortar business is doing, yet in our community, they usually don’t receive the congratulatory benefit of being in business. These ‘hustlers’ are doing a great job and deserve our respect. The quality of their products and services are as good if not better and the prices are very competitive.

The homemade jewelry table in front of the grocery store, the shade-tree-mechanic and the bar-b-que guy on the corner lot, deserves as much respect for being in business as the jewelry kiosk in the mall, the expensive mechanic at the new car dealership and the chef in the expensive grill restaurant.

When we respect our businesses, we will also support them. Whether mobile or brick and mortar, we build our community when we support the cornerstone of our society. The money stays in our community and will circulate a little longer. We know these business owners. We sit next to them in church and we know them to be honest hard working people.

When we legitimize our businesses with actions and praise, we are legitimizing our community. We can do this. #thereisaplan