Starting a Business (is really a lesson in waiting)

“SHIT,” I yelled and lunged across the table, trying to catch the giant puddle of ink sliding off the edge of the table. I now had most of the coffee shop within my vicinity’s attention. “Rad. Just rad.” Ten minutes, 50 napkins and 100 apologies to the barista later, the spill was gone. Humiliated and out of ink, I packed up and trudged back to my 3 bedroom, (two roommate), and 1 bathroom apartment. These were the glimmering early days of Bon Temps Collective. And it would look like this for a really, really long time.

The Myth of Overnight Success

Thanks to today’s tech, we’re conditioned for the immediate, and success is no exception. Pair this with the fact that we’re over-exposed to “over-night” success stories, and you have a bad recipe. The fact of the matter is that most of those over-night tales of triumph are more like over-a-decade tales of triumph. And you and I are no exception.

Here’s the good and bad of this: on one hand, it thins the playing field. On the other, it makes things super freaking hard (that’s a technical business term, for you).

But here’s the thing, babycakes—terrible, wonderful growth, happens in the waiting. And slow doesn’t mean you aren’t succeeding. Did you know Jeff Bezos, owner of Amazon, used to kneel on a garage floor fulfilling packages by hand? It took him over 5 years to ever make a dollar, along with a few other names like Tesla, ESPN, and FedEx. In case you’re still not jiving me on this, here’s a few more to nail it home:

  • -It took Dyson, now a $5 billion company, over 15 years and 5,127 models to find success.
  • -Both Richard Branson and Elon Musk have said they’ve been within 24 hours of being shut down for lack of financing.
  • -Colonel Sanders’ chicken recipe was rejected by over 1,000 restaurants before he started his own roadside getup. He was 65 when he founded KFC.
  • -It took the Wright Brothers four years to even get a machine off the ground.
  • -Airbnb sold breakfast cereal to keep food on the table and their business afloat in their early years.

Getting the picture yet?

Reality Check: Suck it Up and Get (Whatever It Is) Done

Waiting for success sometimes means we don’t get to do what we love right away. Do you really think the founders at Airbnb found cereal to be their burning passion? Hell no. But that’s what it took to keep the end goal kicking.

After the concept for Bon Temps Collective was born, I worked at my stuffy corporate job as a content marketer for another year. When I quit to start pursuing the dream, I took a part time gig at an eye care clinic to pay my bills. I skimped on protein, healthcare, and a host of other things that would send The Mama into a panic if she knew. I cleared 90% of my belongings out of my 10×10 room to fit a desk and computer. I stayed in, stayed up late, and worked with the cheapest tools I could find. Life looked like this for a long, long time. There were more identity crises,  quick mid-day breakdowns, bills than I ever cared to believe possible. And it sucked, honey. But more importantly, it paid off.

This is not to say that I did anything special. I don’t deserve a cookie, and there are a million more just like me. This is to say that it works. Most of the business lessons I’ve learned happened in that crummy, basement-level room. The most important being that good things come to those who wait (while simultaneously working their ass off). It’s OK to have the occasional identity crisis and wonder what the hell you’re doing with your life.  I’ll be the first to throw you a pity party. It’ll be for a sobby, solid ten minutes. But then you have to snap out of it, wipe your nose, turn off Friends, and get your ass back in the driver’s seat. It’s in the showing up when nothing is pretty that gains you success. Keep doing it, and eventually chère, she will show up.