A lot of people think I was an overnight success, but I was an opening act for three or four years, and then I signed my contract with EMI. Then it kind of blew up overnight.
- Vanilla Ice
Everyone loves to watch movies and read books about rags to riches stories, about great comeback stories, and about the underdog beating the big dog.
These types of stories are inspiring and motivating. They motivate us to take on the world, start a new business, and gamble on ourselves. Yet, a 2-hour movie or a 100-page book gives us a false sense of security that success happens overnight. That if we have one great idea, that is all it takes and we will become a millionaire.
The truth is overnight successes are years in the making. Success takes hard work, long nights, and never giving up. A great example of an overnight success years in the making is Mark Cuban, billionaire and an investor on Shark Tank.
At the high of the dot-com bubble in the late 1990s, Mark Cuban sold his business BROADCAST.COM to Yahoo for $5.9 billion dollars, leaving Mark with shares worth $2.5 billion. Overnight, Mark became a billionaire. No more worrying about money or a job, all because he got “lucky” in being the first to invent streaming the live audio from sports games online.
Years before that, Mark was sleeping on friends floors, eating ketchup sandwiches, and getting fired from his job because he was out making sales rather than opening up the doors to a store in the morning. All this time, Mark was also learning how to code, how to sale, and how to market. The years that it took him to learn how to be successful seem to be lost on Shark Tank.
Every entrepreneur faces similar hardships. Do you quit your job to work on your side business full time or stick it out for a few more years as you build the business?
You wonder when it will finally be your turn to be successful? When will your business finally take off? When will you finally catch your big break?
It is unlikely that one day someone will stumble across your invention and love it so much they will offer you millions just for your idea. It is unlikely that the day your patent issues people will start knocking down your door to get a license from you. What is likely, is that you will spend years refining your idea, learning the skills to be successful, working in jobs you don’t love, all so that you can become that overnight success years in the making.
If you are in the early stages and the road ahead looks long, don’t get discouraged. To be an entrepreneur, you must be an eternal optimist. Each time you start a business, you must believe it is going to be a success, otherwise, you will never start.
And, if your business fails, take stock of what you learned, lick your wounds, and find an even better idea that will become your overnight success.
Learn from Dominos
If you still need a bit of encouragement, look to the game of dominos. As you line dominos up, each domino can knock over another domino that is 1.5X larger. As each domino falls, it knocks over the next larger domino, until finally the largest domino falls. The same goes for business, each time you fail, if you learn something, you fail forward until one day you finally reach that overnight success that took you years in the making. So take courage, and start your domino reaction.
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