Early on, during my consultation days, I had a client who had just opened a brick and mortar store selling tennis equipment. The location wasn’t bad, being within walkable distance to a sports center, and inventory was affordable. If given time to grow, it could be potentially profitable.
Unfortunately, the client had everything but time.
I remember one of our earlier conversations. We had been sitting in a coffee shop downtown, for the greater part of already two hours with me attempting to explain why the proposal I had drafted was a four-year plan and not a four-month one. What the client wanted or rather expected was a 3x return on his investment within a four month time period.
What he wanted just wasn’t realistic.
Everything takes time. It’s like trying to build muscle at the gym. You’re working out for the first time ever, lifting heavy, pushing your limits, struggling to breathe — at the end of the first session, do you notice any changes? Absolutely not. You do it for a week, and you still won’t notice any changes. But if you persist and keep going, day after day, week after week, months after months, you’ll begin noticing a change. And as the months turn into years, you’ll eventually realize that you’ll have achieved the body you’ve always wanted.
Success takes time. That’s why it’s worth doing, because you’ll learn to appreciate the process that it took to get there. As Mos Def says it:
“All the things that are worth doing, take time.”
Business is the exact same. There’s no overnight successes. It might seem like that for some companies, but the truth is, these companies often still took years, sometimes even nearly a decade before becoming well-known.
Did you know that Nike had been on the verge of being bankrupt for the first 18 years before going public and finally achieving the so-called “overnight success?”
When you’re running a business, or really trying to achieve any kind of goal, you have to be prepared for it to take a while. You might get lucky, but chances are, you won’t. If you can’t see past achieving immediate success, you’re put yourself in a position to make irrational decisions, decisions that’ll bring at most only temporary, never-lasting benefits to your company.
My client didn’t listen. He started spending heavily, buying ads to drive traffic to his store. He believed that he would be able to reach success and running ads would be the quickest to that path. So in the four months that he ran ads, instead of making a 3x return on his initial investment, he ended up putting 3x that amount in just ads alone. His profits were a fraction of what he had spent on ads.
Did he fail because he was stupid? No. Did he fail because he spent his money on advertising? No.
He failed because his ego took the better of him.
He failed because he was overconfident even though he lacked experience.
He failed because he was too arrogant to believe that effort was necessary.
He failed because he had been too impatient and unwilling to wait.
As much as I’d like to say that there’s a happy ending to his story, there isn’t. He started two other companies, both of which eventually failed under the same circumstances. The last words I heard from him were:
“It’s alright, it’s not a big deal. I started these companies for fun anyways so it’s not like it matters if I lose money. I can afford the losses.”
A lot of people wish for immediate success in the things they do. They refuse to put in the effort or the time because they believe that they’re special and when failure comes, they’d brush it off, giving excuses in order to justify their lack of effort. They don’t reflect, or acknowledge their mistakes, and by not doing so, they never learn. They never succeed.
It doesn’t matter whether or not someone can afford the losses. It’s the mindset behind it. If you’re don’t put in the effort, you’re going to have no reason or motivation to work towards any goals, personal or business.
Success is hard, but patience required for it is even harder. It’s possible, it just takes time.
Take your time, put in the effort, and the seeds of success will eventually sprout.