Differentiation

Startup Success: Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

  • AUTHOR: Peter Chen
  • DATE: 04/10/2013

Living in a world of overnight success stories like Instagram and Facebook has led many of today’s new entrepreneurs to expect too much without putting in the work. While we all dream of that billion-dollar business idea, the sad reality is that those monumental overnight successes rarely (and I mean very rarely!) happen.    

Entrepreneurs need to ditch the “instant gratification” mindset and realize that success takes time and work. Before you commit to starting a new business, it’s important to realize that it’s a long and bumpy road, but the treasure at the end is worth the stress.   

The Beginning

You’ve heard it from me, you’ll hear it from peers, and you’ll hear it from industry leaders: The beginning of a new business venture is tough. Expect many late nights, sleep deprivation, uncertainty, and stress. People look at my company and only see the gross sales — they don’t know about my 20-hour days in the beginning, when I was struggling to pay the bills and eating rice and ketchup.

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During this phase of your business, be realistic when setting goals. Unfortunately, there will always be people — mostly imitators and second movers — who will try to build a new social media that’s “better than Facebook.” Maybe you actually can achieve this feat, but maybe you can’t. Even Mark Zuckerberg had to quit Harvard and risk his financial future to run and grow Facebook.

Overnight Success vs. Working Your Way Up

Instagram is an overnight success. With 13 employees and no revenue, the company started off small. Within a few months, the company had 30 million users.

That doesn’t always happen. Most of the time, your company will have to work its way up. Take the bank security system company Cyota as a prime example. For the company’s first four years, Cyota’s CEO, Naftali Bennet, admitted his company struggled. But with a combination of extreme dedication and creativity, the company started growing. In 2005, it was acquired by RSA Security for $145 million. Today, they provide security to all of the larger banks in the U.S.

That’s what I call success. If you’re not willing to go down this path, get a day job. That will be more profitable than trying to travel down Instagram’s road.

The Truth

Studies show only 10% of startup companies make it in the long run. But don’t let that discourage you — it doesn’t mean that only 10% of entrepreneurs make it. For many entrepreneurs, it’s often the second or third attempt in business that succeeds.

Hopefully, you can reach that success phase with your own business — the stage where you know you’ve made it, where you love what you do, and when you can start enjoying good champagne. The best way to get there is through a combination of hard work and patience.

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