Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sunday Afternoon Reflections - It's Only a Matter of Time

One of the most common answers that a new entrepreneur receives when they ask the question,"When will I get noticed? (or make my first sale, or other similar queries) is "Don't worry, it just takes time. It'll happen." I recently read an article on success that I though had a lot of merit and that made me stand firm in my own commitments. Please don't ask me what the title was or who wrote it, because while I committed the theme to memory, I didn't commit the source or author to memory.

The general theme is one I'm quite familiar with - why are some people so successful and others aren't? I'm going to share the gist of it with you, but don't quote me that it was written exactly like this - but I hope you'll get the general idea.

Road to Success Motivational Quote Print from backtoherroots

The article gave an example of two talented businessmen living in similar metropolitan areas, both about the same age (say early 40-something-ish), both college graduates with degrees in business, both happily married to career women, both were wonderful fathers of a couple of kids, and both worked hard, dedicating themselves completely from 9 to 5 every Monday through Friday, as owners of businesses within the same general industry.

The first businessman (I'll call him Fred) lived in a nice middle class neighborhood, drove a typical family sedan, and led what most of us would consider a pretty average middle class life.  The second businessman (let's call him Frank) lived in an affluent neighborhood, drove a higher end car, and made quite a bit more money than our first friend. Luck of the draw? More career breaks? What was so different about their lives that created such a vast discrepancy in their life styles? Turns out it was a matter of time.

Our friend Fred probably worked harder than most when he was at work - and he was very good at what he did. But when 5 o'clock came around, Fred turned his energy to living that typical suburban lifestyle of watching TV, taking care of a few chores around the house, washing the car, helping the kids with their homework, attending church services, and reading the news.

Frank, on the other hand, did all of the above with a few changes.  He also taught a free adult-education class on entrepreneurship, coached a little league team, played golf a couple of times a week, worked out at the gym, volunteered at a local charity, stayed on top of business and world news, and kept both his mind and social skills sharp by staying active in the community.

While both men had a "plan" for professional success, Fred limited his time to act on his plan to his activities from 9-5. Frank, on the other hand, was constantly putting himself out there through his volunteer and community activities, finding the time to work at staying healthy, well informed, and networking. Turns out that several of his students had recommended his business to other business people who would become his clients. Through his coaching, he learned of opportunities of sponsor teams and just by having his company logo on the outfield wall, he had gained several more clients. The same was true of the rest of his activities, and the friendships he formed in the process would last him a lifetime. Since Frank also kept up with business and world news, he was almost always ahead of the game when it came to developing new strategies to build business or take advantage of new opportunities before his competition did. It turns out that the time that Frank spent "not working" had a more profound effect on his success than the hours he put in at the office!

I think the same is true for most "overnight" success stories... the owners of these businesses put a lot of energy and work into not just their crafts or skills, but by staying engaged in making themselves visible to the people who are likely to become customers or spread the word about the business. I have to admit that sometimes I'll hear or read a small business person's complaints about why "they're not just having any luck" with their businesses, right before they excuse themselves to watch this or that TV show, or to play online games for the evening, or to just otherwise generally "relax."  On the flip side, those "overnight" successes that they often envy, are usually anything but. Most of the more successful shops I've run across online and in the marketplace are run by "Franks" - people, men and women alike, who put an incredible amount of time and effort into building their businesses, helping others in whatever ways they can, and always looking for ways to do something new or better - all of which takes time.

And so it is with anything we want to achieve - whether it's success in business, success in relationships, health, or any of our other goals in life -it truly is just a matter of time... how are you spending yours?



Erika said...

Great post! I also had a laugh at the sign about the parking spots--I know those spots can be very tempting.

I made the decision to put my career on hold to raise our two kids--will that and has it impacted me--yes. But I made the choice.

My hubby made the choice to stay home when the kids were babies and then slowly added more things to his schedule. The benefit is that he gets promoted at work and his small business stays filled from his community contacts.

It just shows that sometimes we have to get out of our shells to make things happen!

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letamariedesigns said...

Love this post! As someone who is still waiting for a '1st'sale on one of my selling sites, I try to promote myself but not to much. I am so afraid of over promotion and turning people off. I do love to promote others though. But with the knowledge that there are so many great designers(such as yourself) I am learning not to be discouraged and am so far happy with what I am doing (which may not be enough) as it is what I can handle at this time.

Anonymous said...

That's really interesting Karen. I immediately typed myself as the relax during relaxing time type. I'm naturally shy, and slow to get involved in outside activities. I know networking/ marketing should be 50% of what you are doing, but I just haven't pushed myself hard enough in that area. I think I'll start by trying one new scary thing/ month and see how it goes!

mysticwynd said...

Shyness is my downfall too, Nancy - although mine is currently more along the lines of agoraphobia, so I can appreciate how hard it is for some people to get past "scary". I think trying to tackle one new thing a month is a great idea. (I feel a blog challenge coming on!)

I liked the original article I read because it showed how the choices we make about how we spend our "free time" can still have a positive effect on our businesses - and that we can make choices that can benefit us all the way around. It's rarely about luck. I love the quote by Thomas Jefferson that goes, “I'm a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.”

Seems like there's always a trade-off somewhere when it comes to achieving whatever level of success we want - whether it's giving up time, energy, or sadly, even scruples as the economic events of the last few years have shown!

Thanks to everyone who's sharing their thoughts!

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