There are many companies selling “snake oil” that promise you a startup success formula. Unsurprisingly, there is a huge demand for it, given that hundreds of thousands of companies are looking for shortcuts to achieve the perfect startup success story.
You might feel that things are moving slow in your company: that is more than natural. It is often in retrospect that the consequences of our actions make sense. Business decisions are no exception. If you are an entrepreneur building a brand new startup, you probably have trouble seeing any light at the end of the tunnel from time to time. But a startup’s success is not determined by how good the product is, startup success is defined by how far an entrepreneur is willing to go and wait to see its startup succeed.
Here’s The Deal: You Have To Be Patient
If you are building your startup from scratch, don’t expect success overnight. I will share you a secret for success, and it is fairly simple. It all boils down to how resilient you are when it comes to success. Resilience should be part of your entrepreneurial DNA and I will go further: this is the most important factor to avoid startup failure and embrace startup success! Even if it sounds counter-intuitive at times, the secret is not to give up.
Obviously, it is not possible for a lot of people to go on for years without making any money or profits, and feeding a business money, but it is the ones who do not give up on their adventures (at the cost of not being lucrative) that succeed. I know a lot of people can’t afford to do this, and that is why many companies look for angel investors, accelerators or venture capitalists to fund their businesses. It is up to you to assess the risks and give it a shot.
Although there is no magic startup success formula, however, there are many real-life examples of businesses that only take off after three-five years. The Internet is flooded with examples. Here’s a list of a few companies and how long it took them to become an “overnight success”.
Microsoft: 11 years
Apple: 20 years
Yahoo: 3 years
Google: 8 years
Facebook: 5 years
Amazon: 3 years
FedEx: 4 years
Tesla Motors: 10 years
These big companies had their own ups and downs until they found success. The scale of the company isn’t important, it is the resilience of the founders that lead these startups to succeed. Obviously, a startup has to control its spending, and have a real plan to become profitable.
Here are a few reasons why being resilient is an essential factor in startup success.
Even The Smallest Sapling Will Grow – Unless You Stop Watering It
You have to consider your company at the beginning stages as a tiny seed. You will have to water it every day to germinate it. Once it germinates, it will start growing, but if you do not spend time on it, it will wither away. Businesses are like fast growing plants, although a few years sound like a long time, down the road, if you do not do it at the first place, you won’t get any results.
What I say is quite obvious, but it is unbelievable that a large number of people I talk to forget that to achieve fast growth, you need to start with the simplest tasks and take baby steps. You should never forget that many companies do one thing at a time and climb up to the top step by step.
At Growth Hackers, we enjoy fast and sustainable growth, that is, what we help companies achieve on a regular basis. But you must have a solid and feasible action plan. Even the fastest growing trees and plants do not achieve full size overnight. Fast growing plants have a phase where they are dormant. Even babies who grow fast only get to walk and talk after a year they were born. You should treat your business like a small toddler who is learning how to read, you have to take the right steps and reap the rewards in the long run. Trust me, when you do actually succeed, you won’t believe how time flies !
It Is Better To Grow Consistently And Steadily Rather Than Plateau After Immediate Success
There are many companies who mistake fast and exponential growth with permanent success. There are so many “success” stories with companies that end up fizzling out by becoming the victim of their own success. Many companies decide that they don’t need to continue making the same amount of effort the moment they start making profits. It should be the opposite, companies that make profits have also thousands of customers who have very big expectations. You have to live up to them, continue developing your products and services, testing them consistently, and continuing to find ways to do better.
That is why Apple keeps making some products (some of which end up as a flop), that is why Google is always hustling. They succeeded immensely, but they are still very resilient, they are still working very hard to maintain the success they had a few years ago. Working on your startup, even after the startup phase, never ends.
Think about one-hit wonder songs. Those singers were rather successful for one song but not for anything else. Not long after, they disappeared from the music scene. The reason was because they produced a very generic pop song that had a catchy tune, and appealed to their era. But after that, they did not continue working on possible songs that would work out, in fact, some of them quit making music altogether. Don’t try to be a one hit wonder, try to be a timeless legend.
All Successful Examples Were Beginners At One Point
No company became a successful conglomerate in less than a year. Your company will figure out how to develop a viable business plan, have a great marketing strategy that actually works for you. Regardless of the case studies and examples you look at: you are unique, your startup is unique and like no other. That is why you should have customised strategies for everything, otherwise, you will be just like everyone else.
McDonald’s started out as a single restaurant whose burgers were not stellar. Starbucks didn’t even sell coffee, they sold coffee beans. The biggest problem startups encounter today is the collective illusion our society has when we think about companies. We are perpetually fed a story of “it’s all or nothing”.
This was not the case two decades ago. People had a better understanding of the dynamics of successful businesses. Although startups did not exist, and entrepreneurialism wasn’t as common or buzzing as today, people focussed on building solid businesses that would grow in a steady and consistent pace. With the Internet, businesses do grow fast, but to achieve stability, for you to succeed in the long run, fast growth is not sufficient.
Fast growth is a very important factor, however, it is not the only thing you should rely on. Nowadays, some companies want to achieve growth, but without making the effort, without showing any resilience, or having any patience. They basically want their business to succeed without having to do anything.
Obviously, businesses rarely succeed when they grow unsustainably fast. You have to build your company, piece by piece. That is exactly what Uber, Amazon, Airbnb, Google did. At some point, they were all beginners and had plenty of competitors. The thing that differentiates them from others is resilience.
Keep Working, Keep Going
Look into any company’s story, and you will see a story of resilience. We never heard of the people who gave up, because they never made it. We never hear about the no-name six-month-old business that had a huge potential that eventually fizzled out.
Success stories are not linear. There are detours, wrong turns, and unexpected hilly roads along the way. There are forks on the roads and complete readjustments. It is more than natural that things will not go as planned. What you have to do is keep going, keep walking, keep climbing, and pushing forward.
No website that has great SEO was built in a day; no startup can implement an effective inbound marketing strategy overnight; no company gets to find 1,000 customers within a few days. You obviously need to define a marketing strategy, you can also define a growth hacking strategy to get there faster but keep in mind that even a little seedling grows into a tree in time.
So never forget that resilience is one of the most important factors in startup success. You might not see the outcome, because like little plants in a field, they are doing their magic, dormant under the soil. One day, you will harvest the result, all you need is to keep looking after your business.
[This post by Jonathan Aufray first appeared on GrowthHackers and has been reproduced with permission.]