Productivity / Professional development

What if you build it and they DON’T come?

‘Build it and they will come’ may work in the movies, but in real life, running a business requires hustle, grind and a willingness to show up day after day.

20 January 2017 by

At first, blush, running a business is all beer and skittles. Yes, there’s a lot to be done. But it’s mostly fun stuff: business cards, branding and websites.

At a certain point, however, there comes the realisation that ‘build it and they will come’ may work in the movies, but not so much in real life.

In real life, to build a successful business, there is hustle, grind, consistency and a willingness to show up day after day. Even, (especially), if there are limited customers, your product is not yet selling and it all seems too hard.

"Everything you're working on is an investment in tomorrow."

There is also dealing with the realisation that running a business involves:

  • The rollercoaster of sometimes non-existent cash flow.
  • Having to do everything – the marketing, the IT and the administration; especially in the early days.
  • Thinking wistfully back to the days when you got weekends off AND paid annual leave AND public holidays.
  • Feeling pangs of envy when your friends talk up their bonuses and you remember those days when large sums of money just landed in your account.

Seth Godin posted this on his blog recently. It sums up the dilemma of the business owner perfectly:

Now is never (but here comes tomorrow)

Everything you’re working on is an investment in tomorrow.

While we can choose to enjoy the process, the end result is always at the end of an arc, always the result of many steps, of earning trust, of building a connection.

If you view any particular day without context, it is almost certain to be a failure. Because now never happens. The results always happen later.

Since later is just around the corner, today, right now, is the perfect time to begin.

Now is the moment we get to plant the seeds for later.

So, why do we keep going?

Despite the plenty of the proverbial blood, sweat and tears along the way, here are my reasons why having my own business is the best decision I ever made. Even given the challenges I’ve detailed above!

  • Purpose does trump a health salary (mostly!). Doing something that matters personally and makes a difference in the world trumps working in an organisation where I was just another cog in the wheel.
  • Despite working harder than I ever have before, the flexibility my businesses offer do mean I can take time off to do things with my girls. I can be spontaneous and have coffee with neighbours. I can create a life that I want to live, where work is just one part that of that, rather than the other way around.
  • There is something powerful about knowing that I’m largely responsible for my own destiny. As Seth says: “Now is the moment we get to plant the seeds for later.” My fate doesn’t lie in any other person’s hands.
  • Now that I literally earn and spend every dollar that comes in and out of the businesses, I have much greater respect and appreciation for money.

The best thing about running my own businesses?

Just like the seeds that Seth talks about, with the right ingredients – the right application and resources, hard work and consistency – the seeds do grow.

So, while ‘Build it and they will come’ definitely doesn’t work when it comes to starting a business, you will find if you ‘Build it, nurture it, find purpose in it and deliver what your customers want and need’, they will indeed, eventually come!

What’s the best thing about running a business?

Tammy Tansley

is the Principal of Tammy Tansley Consulting and the author of Do What You Say You'll Do, a book for new leaders and those reinventing their leadership style. She is co owner of Help Me HR.

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