In reality I believe that it takes 10 years to build a truly successful business. And yes, I know, there are lots of examples running around about billion dollar companies appearing virtually overnight, but in all seriousness, these are the unicorns, not the everyday reality of the businesses that I see and work with. Those businesses where there is a business owner working really hard, often for very little return, year after year. Then miraculously, at about the 10 year mark, everything starts to work and the business is an overnight success.
This 10 year build time is what it takes to make enough mistakes, to figure out what we are good at and what we are lousy at, to get regular customers coming back time and time again, and to be able to weather the financial and emotional roller coaster ride that is the life of a soloist or really any small business owner for that matter.
One thing that has helped me to be successful for such a long time is that I always play a long game. What exactly does this mean? To me it’s simple. I look at the long term impact and benefits of everything I do. I don’t make ‘quick buck’ decisions, because they rarely work out the way you think they will. I’ve been very slow to partner with other businesses, because I will do anything to protect my brand. And I’m always conscious and concerned about making sure I exceed my customers expectations, because I know that’s how I will build, and continue to build, a world class reputation.
There is nothing wrong with moving at a fast pace in business. In fact I think it’s essential to keep up and stay relevant. But to be successful for a long period of time, it’s not about instant returns, constantly hustling, or taking any job simply because it’s about getting a sale at any cost. I think it’s about being much more considered and strategic in all that we do, and most certainly playing a long game to build a rock solid, profitable and sustainable business. It might not be what we want to hear, but I believe it to be true.