Seeking Overnight Success? Here’s a Reality Check for Business Growth

By Erin Ollila, Contributor, on May 16, 2017

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I’m a sucker for stories about how one entrepreneur went from barely making minimum wage to all of a sudden netting $100,000 in just one month. The idea of making it as an overnight success is seductive. But a Cinderella story is simply that — a story.

What can you do when everywhere you look online offers a new, get-rich-quick scheme? They seem appealing, but before you buy into the hype, you need to know one thing: You can spend all your time reading what other people did to make it big, or you can buckle down and do hard work.

It takes a lot of perseverance and determination to become an entrepreneur with a steadily growing business. By doing the work up front, you’ll build a foundation for the rest of your career.

Success Stories Rarely Speak to Past Efforts

When you learn about people who’ve suddenly made it big, you often don’t hear how hard they worked for their notoriety. Jeff Goins is a wildly successful writer who blogs about — get this — writing. One might look at his fame and wonder how he got so lucky. The truth is luck didn’t play a factor in his overnight success. Hard work and determination made him well-known.

He addresses this in a Copyblogger article, saying, “[Jeff Goins, Writer] was something like my ninth blog. I had at least eight terrible blogs before I started this halfway-good one. Apparently, I had to learn every way to not do it to find out the one way blogging could work for me.”

While his audience may only see his current success, those eight previous efforts go unnoticed. While Goins addresses those eight other attempts, he never calls them failures. Why? All the effort he put into those first ventures gave him the ideal experience needed to create his current writing site.

Sudden, Sharp Growth Shocks the System

While an overnight success may sound like a dream come true, it can jar you in ways you’re not prepared for. Think: If 1,000 clients suddenly approached you for work that needed to start immediately, would you be able to provide for them? What about 100 or even just 10? Depending on your industry, too much work at once may prove unmanageable.

Yes, you can outsource some of your work to other freelancers, but do you know enough you’d trust to complete work to your standards? Have you set up systems to onboard new clients and prioritize their needs? Can your personal life sustain the immediacy your business will demand?

From the outside, an all-at-once notoriety might seem like something your business would benefit from without question, but if you’re not ready to embrace and sustain that level of work — which, let’s be honest, most of us aren’t — you’ll crash and burn.

Growth Comes From Consistency

In a recent award acceptance speech, Denzel Washington said, “Without commitment, you’ll never start. But, more importantly, without consistency, you’ll never finish.” While all your peers are digesting the income reports and success stories of other professionals, you can put in the hard work and determination needed to become the next big wig of your industry.

If the allure of overnight success dominates your thoughts, redirect yourself. If you have too many ideas for products or services to put out in the world, make a brain dump on a blank sheet of paper. Then, analyze which will prove easiest to accomplish first. Next, take action. If you’re offering premade website graphics — make them. Don’t worry about the marketing, advertising and everything that happens after creating. Just create.

Finally, it’s time to launch. Don’t wait until you’re perfectly ready. Give yourself the grace to make changes as you evolve. Put your work out in the open, and make sure your ideal customer knows you exist. Take chances. Make tweaks. Rinse and repeat.

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