It’s funny how today’s expectations of business are stratospheric growth or none at all.
I’ve listened to podcast after podcast about people who truly had amazing stories. Whether they hit it right the first time, or fought through a string of failures until making it big. Some exceptional people that pursued the right opportunity, with the right team, and on and on…
And the big public explosions of failures play just as well as the smashing successes in media.
Almost more so.
People have yapped endlessly about how social media distorts our perception of success by just showing us the hyper successful outliers, and that’s still true. But I think in business, there’s an even more sinister entrepreneurial programming going on that fellow startup folks should be aware of.
It also distorts our sense of what failure feels like.
There are a ton of business models out there, that simply are not ‘grow or die’ type plays. In fact, most of them are not.
Most solid businesses (internet based or otherwise), are more of a slow compounding of effort/reputation/relationships over time. These kind of ventures take years to get chugging along, but when they do finally hit a stride, it seems like the easiest business in the entire damn world.
Most of the time, it feels like you’re treading water and going nowhere. With brief periods of growth to the next level. Most of the time, it honestly feels like you’re failing (because you aren’t growing, or getting big validating wins day after day).
In our business (CM’s) we stack up with the best of them when it comes to marketing, sales, service, product delivery… and yet while we scrap it out for enough work to pay everyone, our competitors seem to rake it in year after year.
What’s the difference? Are we just delusional in what we have, and are being humbled by the market? Not quite.
The biggest differentiation between the fat cats and starving dogs of this industry of Regulatory, is your amount of time in the game and proportionate network growth. These guys aren’t out there hunting for new leads constantly, they’re accumulating long term clients year after year, and building up such a solid foundation of relationships with their clients that the opportunities flow right on in.
So, then it’s a marathon and not a sprint like much of the tech start-up world. We aren’t scrambling to get our products and services out there, they have (mostly) existed already and will continue to exist for decades.
I call this the ‘stair-master’ type of business model. I jut made that up now, and realize it’s not great but we’ll stick with it. The idea is that instead of a massive exponential curve (like a revered ‘startup’), you spend a decent amount of time on plateaus of slight growth or decay, with quick but big bumps up in your level.
The stair-master is one of the most brutally boring, but effective pieces of cardio equipment in the gym. It’s hard, and very monotonous, but there’s no better way to burn calories and sculpt that beautiful booty.
Yet most would opt for liposuction, or a kickboxing/dance/poledancing class. Why? Because they’re more interesting, faster(seemingly), or sexier. Not that there’s anything wrong with doing any of those things to get in shape, they can be great workouts. But the efficiency of the stair-master is undeniable when it comes to hardcore results.
There are multiple ways to get there (your ideal result) in business, just like there are in working out. Some are much more fun to talk about at a party, and others are exciting on a day to day, or month to month basis. Look at how much money we raised, look at our product that’s gone viral! Wheee exciting!
But for those that are in a similar model to the stair-master, where you experience long periods of seemingly boring stagnation (while you are putting in the work to get to the next level), hang in there. There’s nothing wrong with the ladder/stair model of business. In fact, it’s a far more sustainable long term play for that very reason.
So few people are willing to grind through the periods of boredom and stick to the fundamentals. Most get off the stair-master once they realize how damn hard it is.
The reward is there. Just keep on climbing and pay no mind to the other flashier methods out there. When you do get to the result you wanted, it’ll be far longer lasting and far more satisfying. While your friends and competitors are starting fresh on their 7th sexy business idea of the year… a crowd-funded AI solution for Virtual Reality.
Alas, you can’t sit around and do nothing when times are lean…, or can you?