As a business attorney, one of the errors I often see a fledgling business commit is to focus their entire business model on achieving instant success. In other words, the business becomes too focused on the one large client, opportunity, product, or other action that will lead to quick success and profitability. Very similar to a gambler, the business is constantly looking for the “big payday.” Also, very similar to a gambler, that big payday for the business rarely comes. Instead, the business languishes and eventually fails.
From my practical experience, I rarely have seen a business be able to survive in the long-term with the instant success perspective. Instead, most businesses arrive at success and survivability through a series of small actions taken over time. This is a more organic approach where small actions slowly build up a critical mass that acts as a catalyst for sustained success. It is what is often called the “slow burn, high return” approach.
“Overnight success” never occurs overnight. Instead, it is long-term planning, preparation, and work that leads to success. New businesses often miss the opportunities that come from this long-term approach. In fact, the business often loses out on long term relationships with clients, customers, or others because its leaders are looking for quick success. As such, they are losing out on long-term profitability.
My suggestion to individuals starting a new business is to look for potential business relationships that will foster a long-term approach. For example, it may be a potential client, customer, or business partner that does not immediately need your product or services. Instead of parting ways never to communicate with each other again, agree to stay in touch. These communications over time, will often lead to a change of circumstances where you will be able to assist this potential client, customer, or business partner at some future date. Oftentimes, it may be a referral by this individual or entity that does not need what you can offer, but a relationship has developed sufficiently over time where an entity is comfortable in its recommendation of your business.
Just as a business should foster these long-term relationships, business owners need to keep in mind that they will often be approached by individuals or businesses looking for that big payday. Avoid relationships with these individuals or businesses because, like a traveling salesperson of old, it could be here today, but gone tomorrow. You do not want to be the individual holding the bag when the dust settles.
Long-term success is more of a marathon than a sprint. A successful business must focus its primary attention on the long-term approach.