How many times have you heard the term “overnight success”?

It’s a term used to describe a sudden rise to fortune. The truth, though, is that these “sudden” success stories are rarely anything resembling sudden. Much of the time there is an untold story of long hours, many failures and a great deal of sacrifice.

Lay the Groundwork for “Overnight Success”

When it comes to a success story, most of the time it comes from laying the groundwork for years. Unless you win the lottery or you end up with an amazing inheritance, you’ll need to lay the groundwork for your long-term success.

The best thing you can do is work. It’s the way for you to lay the groundwork for success down the road. Gary Vaynerchuk once pointed out that most of us have time. “Stop watching f***ing Lost,” he said.

When you consider that, according to the American Time Use Survey, the average American watches almost three hours of TV a day, it’s clear you can work during that time. While there are those who don’t have the same amount of free time, it’s a good idea to track your own time to see if you are spending otherwise productive time on unproductive pursuits.

As you lay the groundwork for your “overnight success,” you also need to remember to make a plan. Your business plan will guide you forward, and ensure that you aren’t just spending time on random items of little profit for you or your business.

Get Out There: Don’t Forget the Marketing

As you lay the groundwork for your success with planning and hard work, don’t forget that you need to get out there and market your business. Build your online presence. Network with others. Make sure that you are taking the time to present yourself as an expert.

With the right marketing plan, it’s possible for you to spread the word about your business. However, you might need to work at it for months — or even years — before you are truly noticed.

This is what gives rise to the term “overnight success.” You work really hard for a long time, and you finally get one “break.” You are noticed by the right person. Your efforts to build your business and market it finally pay off. You reach a certain level of critical mass that tips you into a wider mindshare of the market.

All of a sudden, you might seem to be everywhere, and your sales might increase. However, this didn’t actually happen overnight. It appears to be overnight success to those outside looking in, and you might feel as though you woke up one morning and suddenly everything is different, but the reality is that you have probably put in a great deal of work.

Don’t let media sensationalism surrounding other successful businesses convince you that there is some secret sauce. The reality is that any “overnight success” you see touted likely had to put in the work and hustle with a marketing plan. Keep moving forward, and you’ll likely end up as one of those “overnight success” stories yourself one day.

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