Everyone loves a rags-to-riches story. As a champion of the underdog, I love them too. I want to see the “little guy” succeed, rising up against all odds to upturn the status quo. This is why I love working with small businesses. This is what drives them, and it’s exhilarating.
But I also believe that insidious “instant success” stories are dangerous to real, working businesses. Sure, there are actual, true stories of people who got lucky – the ones who succeeded in spite of short-term thinking. These stories give false hope to those who seek shortcuts.
The pop singer Ruth B is such a story. Nothing against her, or her music, but her story is uncommon – and unlikely. She was in the right place at the right time, with (to be fair) the right content. She got lucky. Good for her. And I hope that she puts the hard work in now to capitalize on “getting picked.”
However, if you or I built our businesses around what worked for her, we would certainly fail. There are no shortcuts in building a business. At least it’s not worth playing the odds of putting stuff out there and hoping to get lucky. Or looking for tricks to beat the system. Time and time again, I get people who come to me asking for quick-hacks and work-arounds. “I need to build an audience – quick. Can you help me?”
The answer is no. Building an audience requires honesty, patience, and a genuine desire to solve problems for others. And those things take time. Yes, a little luck along the way can help. But as I say all the time, “hope is not a marketing plan.”
Listen to the episode for Ruth B’s “instant success” story. And then bury the notion so deep that it won’t poison the soil around your business.
This episode references the article, “How ‘Lost Boy’ Took Ruth B to Pop’s Neverland” by Daniel Kohn, published in the print version of Rolling Stone (Issue 1269, September 8, 2016).