The power of patience

In a world that glorifies rapid growth, romanticises rags-to-riches stories and lauds overnight sensations, you’d think that business success hinges on dreaming up the next big idea. Does it really?

The reality is that in home offices, backrooms, garages, vans and cafés, business owners spend years creating successful ventures.

How long does it take to build a business? The most accurate answer I believe is: “Longer than you think.”

Yes, you can be in the right place at the right time, or come up with an idea that takes the world by storm. But achieving that is down to sheer brilliance, or luck, or more likely a mix of both – it’s not a sustainable business strategy.

Achieving meteoric success is well worth a crack for those with huge ambition, energy and passion to match. But, for many, the dream of building fast and selling for squillions is a symptom of the lottery mentality. It’s the hope of a shortcut to freedom. Robert Gerrish coined the term ‘puntrepreneurs’ to describe this.

Read the stories of high-flying companies and you’ll find a long history of slogging it out before achieving success. As Flying Solo member Adam Woodhams commented on this article, “Success is often only seen when someone is riding the wave of it. It is overlooked that they spent a huge amount of time creating the wave.”

Even the creator of app sensation Angry Birds produced 51 run-of-the-mill games before hitting the jackpot with a game that’s been downloaded over a billion times.

The plain truth is that most small business owners neither start from rags nor end up with untold riches. They achieve enduring success through persistently honing their craft, patiently doing the small things well day in and day out, incrementally innovating and patiently building a legion of loyal customers.

It’s a long haul, but along the way they build something they love, take control of their destiny, earn more than they need and live very big, rich and fulfilling lives. There are millions of these self-made stories in Australia today, and thousands in the Flying Solo community alone.

Their stories may not sell newspapers or shake up the stock market, but these are the people that I find the most inspirational.

Is there too much hype about rapid growth? Or, am I limiting my horizons with uninspired small-business thinking?

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