Even hardened old cynics like the people behind this blog felt a warm glow at the success of Susan Boyle.
A 47-year old unemployed single woman from Scotland without the conventional pop star looks – to put it kindly – she marched on to the stage of the popular Britain’s Got Talent television show and said she wanted to be like Elaine Paige.
Everyone thought it was a joke. Chief Judge Simon Cowell obviously could not wait to be rid of her, and was clearly preparing one of his legendary put-downs.
Then Susan started to sing...
Now she is an internet sensation, with
thirty million hits on YouTube 100 million online viewings!
Most of us struggling with the day to day challenges of running a business have a similar dream which helps to keep us going in the hard times.
Our dream is not fame as such – not usually – but we share a hope that a moment will come when our products, our businesses, and our own worth as entrepreneurs is suddenly recognised by all.
Sometimes it happens: someone can slog at a thankless task for many years, and, when he has finally ceased to expect that it will ever happen, almost without noticing he finds himself in the right place at the right time doing the right thing, and he becomes an overnight success.
We should all take heart from such stories.
However, we would be foolish to make them the basis of a business plan.
1 Sometimes things like that really do happen – normally they do not: that is why they are so extraordinary.
2 Business success is more usually a matter of slow, gradual, almost imperceptible improvement, not dramatic discovery: the old Hollywood cliché is true – it can take twenty years to become an overnight success.
3 Most successful business careers also involve failures – two steps forward, one step back is a more likely route to success than a single mighty leap to the top.
4 For your talents to be discovered requires that you first have talents; for the excellence of your business to be generally recognised requires that you first build an excellent business.
5 Those who get the “fifteen minutes of fame” which Andy Warhol predicted must never forget that, in most cases, it really is only fifteen minutes.
6 “Wealth can be wonderful, but, you know, success can test one’s mettle as surely as the strongest adversary” – by which the ancient sage implied that the sudden expansion of a business brings its own challenges.
7 It is very difficult psychologically for someone who has run a business at a certain level for many years to make a sudden transition to a much higher level – and then, in most cases, make another transition soon afterwards to a level somewhere between the two.