The myth of overnight success

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Posted by Matthew Stibbe

One of the biggest myths in business is the ‘overnight success’. What you find, when you look more closely, is a business that took five or ten years to get somewhere. Or a business where the hype exceeds the reality. It's one more thing I wish I had known when I started as an entrepreneur.

For example, I admire Basecamp enormously – they are a big inspiration for Turbine. They’re very successful. They’re a (relatively) mature and well-established company today. They didn’t start that way. There were years of decisions, learning, analysis thought and effort.

Of course, the media likes the overnight success story and some corporate egos like to pretend that they can create instant magic. But business isn’t like that.

That doesn’t mean that you don’t have aim high or move fast. Impatience is a virtue. Here are some things you can have immediately is:

In this context whatever pisses you off, as an entrepreneur, is probably your greatest asset. It’s the spur, lesson, benchmark, goal or priority you need right now. Your enemy is your greatest teacher.

Got a powerful competitor? Steal their customers. Nobody knows you exist? Start Tweeting, blogging, PR-ing, whatever to get your story heard. Not enough cash? Start shilling VCs, maxing your credit cards or cutting your burn rate. Not enough features? Play up the simplicity of your product.

Figure out what hurts the most and do something about it. Repeat for ten years and bingo, ‘overnight success’.

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