Groupon employs 70 writers and a lot of local salespeople to hustle up its local offers; however, on the other end is an email machine. Can you imagine if Groupon had to hustle on both ends?
As a rough rule, I find you can only hustle on one end. You can hustle on inventory or demand generation but not both- on one side you need a machine. When I was on Wall Street, we hustled to find and service a stellar group of hedge fund research clients. But when it came time to get paid, we traded their blocks of shares onto the floor, ECNs, and other liquid pools. We didn’t go looking manually for buyers. In fact, I saw some people trying to do just that: finding the other side of each transaction to generate double commission, this was called “naturals.” It didn’t work too well; two-sided hustling is building business on coincidence.
Ideally you have machine on both ends, as eBay did in the 90s. As ideal as that may be, hustle on one end and a good machine on the other tends to a decent mid-term barrier to entry. Google for example, has search as its machine on the consumer demand side (inventory), and big Fortune 500 sales force to hustle for clients on the other end (buyers).
If you are all hustle, you have no chance at exponential grow, because it’s nature is linear. If on one side you have a machine, you have a chance of exponential kicking in and making your hustle side much easier. For example, it must be much easier for Groupon salespeople to sign up local businesses now then it was a year ago. Machine can seep into your hustle.