How to become an overnight business success

2007 Montana forest fires - how they apply to your businessTo anyone outside of Montana who is reading the news, youâ??d think the entire state was one big forest fire.

The photo at right was taken looking west at Glacier International Airport, about 8pm on Aug 11. Yep, that’s smoke masking the sun.

Thankfully, we got 3 days of on and off rain and nice dark clouds (vs smoke) and things have calmed down considerably.

While there are lots of fires (and smoke, some of which is from Idaho), there are also lots of places that arenâ??t on fire. Interestingly enough, visitation at Glacier Park is up 11% this year, despite a very late opening of the Going to the Sun road, and of course, despite the smoke that annoys all of us.

That 11% increase isnâ??t an accident, and neither are the fires.

Unless youâ??re one of my Montana readers, you may not realize it, but forest fires donâ??t just happen overnight. A number of things have to happen first.

Brush grows up and thickens over the years. Layers of evergreen tree needles cover the ground and insulate previous yearsâ?? needle layers from the snowâ??s moisture. Snow melts as the days get warmer. The brush, downfall and needles on the ground dry as the weather warms and May/June rains finally stop.

Summer humidity levels that drop to single digits pull the moisture out of everything. Every day that it is hot or windy steadily prepares the forest so that itâ??s just a little bit easier to ignite. In the evening after a hot day, a thunderstorm forms in the mountains. Lightning strikes in the forest, igniting needles.

At summerâ??s low moisture levels, it isnâ??t long before the brush and downfall are burning. As soon as the fire finds taller and taller â??ladder fuelsâ? that allow it to climb to the tops of the biggest trees, the fire is off and running. The fire generates winds, which accelerate the fire even more. Perhaps a storm or a late evening wind pushes it. The next thing you know, thereâ??s a plume of smoke rising thousands of feet into the air, and we have a raging forest fire.

So why do I mention it and what does it have to do with your business? Lots.

Your business is no different than the forest. The forest requires a specific set of actions and sustained momentum of those actions to get itself to a point where it can not only burn, but become an unstoppable firestorm.

Your business needs exactly the same thing.

You hear people lament the â??overnight successâ? of some business people as if they didnâ??t â??deserve itâ?, not realizing that they slaved away in their garage or basement for years during their free time, working while others were fishing, golfing, watching American Idol, etc. â??Suddenlyâ?, that personâ??s â??business forestâ? catches fire. Itâ??s seldom an accident.

The steady drip-drip-drip of measurable, focused activity, steady improvement, one more product, one more service, one more customer, over the long term works just like a river created the Grand Canyon.

If you only get 1 new customer a week, by the end of the year, youâ??ll have 50 new customers. Whatâ??s that worth to you? Itâ??s your overnight success. Itâ??s why you spent all that time in the basement, or got up early and stayed up late. Somewhere down the road, your businessâ?? momentum would finally build to the point where the business catches fire. Whammo, youâ??re an â??overnight successâ?.

You never hear anyone refer to farmers as â??overnight successesâ?, yet they cut and bale thousands of rounds of hay in a few weeks in the summer or fall and suddenly have barns full of hay. They only get to do that because months earlier, they researched a specific seed line. During the previous spring, they turned over the soil and patiently let it sit all year while they earned nothing from it. Finally, they planted. They irrigated on a daily basis, monitored the seedlings, pulled weeds, fertilized, fought off pests, broke the soil up along the rows of plants and finally, the surviving hay matured so that it could be cut, let dry, and baled.

Overnight success, just like a forest fire. It isnâ??t an accident. Itâ??s the result of momentum. Do at least one thing every day to get, or keep, a client â?? and youâ??ll get some.

2 thoughts on “How to become an overnight business success”

  1. Really great post, Mark. Thanks for the tweet-out… indeed, many of us are ‘overnight successes 10 years in the making’ LOL! It takes diligent deliberate action and persistence. One small step daily makes a huge difference. And, as one of my mentors says, the emotion of frustration is a sure sign we’re about to give up *just* before the BIG win!! So keep on truckin’! 🙂

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  2. Well said Mark!

    Great analogy too!

    Luv it!

    NO such thing as an “overnight success” without much preparation, work and wait time.

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