5 Reasons Why Becoming An 'Overnight Success' Is Just A Myth

by Paul Hudson

We all hear about overnight success, but where do we hear it from? People often talk and spread rumors about overnight successes.

Media outlets love to point them out and write stories about them. Such stories sell very, very well – everyone wants to be successful, but no one wants to put in the effort or wait for it to happen.

We want instant gratification – success included. In a way, such success stories give people hope. Hearing them makes us believe that we too can have such quick success. It gives us confidence.

Unfortunately, it also makes us believe that real success is overnight success and that if we don’t make it quick then whatever we are working on is useless, a failure.

There’s a lot that goes on behind the doors that no one talks about… Entrepreneurs won’t say much about it because everyone wants to be known as an overnight success.

Others won’t talk about it either because people don’t like to hear about the problems of others. We all have our own problems because they’re easy to come by. Success, on the other hand, can be incredibly elusive.

1. You need experience and experience doesn’t come overnight – it takes time and practice.

You can’t fake experience, although I admit that it would be incredible if we could. No spending years and years getting things wrong before figuring out how it actually should be done.

No more time passing us by as we struggle to be successful. Imagine not having to do any learning whatsoever before you made it – nothing could be more convenient. Sadly, that’s not how things work. You need knowledge in order to succeed and knowledge needs to be learned.

The best way that we as people learn is through failure. So… you’re going to have to fail and fail often before you get to succeed. You can’t go through that entire process within a month.

2. You need a product or service that is refined enough to be a huge success.

Most MVPs (minimum viable products) are jagged around the edges at best. It takes multiple iteration cycles to get to something that can truly be deemed a success. Success often comes in stages.

You get a little taste earlier on and then you keep tweaking until you get something that people actually want. There are certain products that are very simple and don’t need much tweaking on the consumer end.

However, these products often aren’t as easily monetized. I, for one, don’t believe a company to truly be successful until it makes a profit – and a nice one at that. Companies like Facebook or Twitter, which are often referred to as overnight successes, are still having trouble making a serious profit.

3. Just because it seems like an overnight success to those on the outside doesn’t mean that it actually was.

Looking from the outside in is deceiving – you don’t get to see all that goes on behind the curtain. More than that, we often don’t realize how long that curtain has been around before we bothered to notice it.

Companies have been around for years before they seemingly popped up and became successes overnight. The truth is that when you have just the right product at just the right time, you can attract a large customer base.

Unfortunately, making that right product takes time. And, let’s be honest, a bit of luck.

4. You need a bit of luck. The fact is – of life in general – that you need a bit of luck to succeed.

You only have control over so many factors; there are always others that you have no control or knowledge of beforehand.

Nothing in life is certain because no matter how many certainties we seemingly have, there is always at least one variable that can’t be entirely accounted for – there is always a chance something will not go the way we wish it to. In order to be successful, you have to be lucky.

Luck alone isn’t enough, but without it, you can’t win. It’s not so much being lucky (although it’s great when you are) as it is not being unlucky.

Over time, we can establish enough control over all the different variables that interact with each other that only the least volatile unpredictable variables are left. Then you just have to hope you don’t get incredibly unlucky, which I’m afraid also happens from time to time.

5. Success is subjective – there’s always more to do, more to tweak, more to improve on.

Is a company successful if it was popular and profitable for a few years and then went under? Is it successful if it’s been around for decades, but then lost almost all of its market share? Success implies some sort of ending, a finish line. But there isn’t one.

In order to be successful, you have to be continuously successful. You have to keep iterating, keep innovating and keep pumping out better services, better products, more innovate approaches to older or newer problems. Success is in the heart of the beholder – only you can decide whether or not you are successful.

You set the bar and then you jump. Success is being able not only to keep up with, but continuously beat the competition. The race never stops.

Photo Courtesy: YSL

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