How Many Years Does It Take to Become an Overnight Success?

I have to shake my head when people talk about “overnight success” in business.  You know, “She’s just an overnight success.  Her business has really taken off.”  Or, “All of a sudden he’s doing really well and his business just grew overnight.”

Ok, so as I’m writing this, I’m literally laughing out loud.  Folks, there’s no such thing as overnight success.  No magic.  No fairy dust that is sprinkled over a business so that in six to twelve hours (a rough estimate for overnight) it doubles in revenues while holding costs to a minimum.  There’s only hard work and persistence.  You, the customer or outside observer (we), just didn’t notice all that seemingly boring, behind the scenes activity until the business got big and exciting.

No one wants to acknowledge a business owner for all the boring stuff, like successfully completing their annual worker’s comp audit, or consistently making phone calls, emailing or texting clients to remind them to buy again.  And it’s super unsexy to think about how often that business owner vacuums or goes to Costco to buy enough toilet paper so the business never runs out.  Yet, all these seemingly boring, unexciting tasks lead to this perception of “overnight success.”

Why do we, as outside observers, ignore the struggle and the grind and instead pay attention to what appears to be shiny, bow-wrapped stories of success?  I don’t know.  Maybe it’s more exciting to recognize people who have seemingly accelerated the business journey.  When was the last time you heard about someone being acknowledged for their patience and ability keep after their business vision day-after-day, year-after-year … all while never running out of toilet paper?

So, next time you go to praise someone for their overnight success, ask them how many years it took to reach it.

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