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The alternative to hard work

If you want to be successful, you have to work very hard. This is something that we've all been hearing for as long as we can remember. But is this really the case?

What are the two primary objectives for any company in the world? One, increase revenues. Two, reduce costs. No matter how you state what your important goals are, it boils down to one of these two things. The impact of every single project that you take up, be it to increase your user base, or improve the NPS, or make your processes more efficient, the end goal is one of the above two. Companies work very hard to increase revenues and reduce costs. And those that manage to achieve them, are the ones that are successful.

There are different stages that a company can be in. When it is in a growth phase, the emphasis on reducing costs is not high. This is how most funded startups behave. They are ready to take on more costs if there is a greater increase in revenues. But this isn't forever. Once it has acquired a sizeable user base, then the focus shifts to curbing costs and focusing on improving revenues. This is because the net of revenues minus costs, the profit, is what is meaningful.

Working hard towards something is similar. Working is nothing but trading in your time (cost) for a salary or a stake in a company (revenues). So, when you decide to work hard (spend more time, hence more cost) towards something, understand if you are in the growth phase or a mature phase. The example for a growth phase is an internship (or an apprenticeship in some fields). An internship is where we are paid anything between zero and a meagre salary for doing the same amount of work (or more) as a full time employee that's paid more. This is the time where skills can be picked up that will generate more revenues at a later point.

Irrespective of the growth phase or the mature phase, the costs incurred, the time spent working, needs to justify the growth in revenues or in the acquisition of useful skills (like users).

We shouldn't be working hard just because others expect us to or just because we take it for granted that hard work results in success later. That isn't the case. Many companies have learnt that the hard way.

Of course, the other option is to love your work so much that you can shove aside all this math and reasoning and enjoy what you do.

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