It takes 10 years to be an overnight success….


@OfficeDivvy tweeted over the weekend announcing their latest blog post, Overnight Success Does Exist!…Not! David Heinemeier Hansson, a partner at 37signals, was speaking at Stanford’s Technology Venture Program about the fact that it took  37signals 10 years to become an “overnight success”. He believes that “accelerated growth is a charade” (his statement is a reaction to vc’s expectation that cash creates accelerated growth) and that it takes time to develop a sustainable, profitable company. Some have called this a defeatist attitude. Far from it. I can’t tell you how many business plans I have seen (actually wrote a couple) that portend huge revenue and profit in a 3-5 year timeframe. These plans are written by aggressive, optimistic and rational people. They are based on well-informed assumptions. They just aren’t very realistic. So what are the critical activities that have to be executed in order to build a sustainable, profitable company (assuming you have a real product and market):

  • Have a core team that is committed to success
  • Add to the core with the best people you can find…Don’t settle
  • Communicate well (both within the core team as well as the company)
  • Sell…Everyday
  • Understand your key success metrics and watch them
  • Manage your cash
  • Maintain a sense of urgency but don’t freak out
  • Take some risks, try new things (ie marketing, new products)
  • Celebrate success…Understand failures
  • Remember the Fundamentals
  • Establish a solid infrastructure for hiring, managing, paying and, when necessary, terminating your employees

Building a sustainable company is really hard. I am personally on a mission to do this right now. This is my list…What am I missing?


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