MONEY

The Myth of the Overnight Success

Moving your small business from plan to powerhouse always takes a ton of preparation--even if most people never see it.
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Lots of people think Lexion Capital was an overnight success. And in some ways, it was: I was open for business for just one day before I had to close my doors and figure out how to deal with massive demand for our services.

But there’s another side to that story. I formed the idea behind Lexion Capital nearly a decade before the company itself. After working for just a short time on Wall Street, I strongly felt that there should be a better, client-centric standard in finance. As I searched in vain for the ideal firm, the thought of creating one percolated in the back of my mind. Once I decided that Lexion was the answer, it took an entire year of careful planning to get the logistics in place. 

The myth of the overnight success story tells us that great ideas with great timing can spring up into full-fledged, successful businesses, seemingly in the blink of an eye. Don’t fool yourself, no matter what the headlines say. It takes careful planning and strategy to make one’s vision not just marketable and viable as a business, but sustainable. Here’s what that can look like:

The early years: Transforming idealistic vision into sustainable business plan

At Lexion, our values-based and mission-driven approach is key to our success. However, as both an entrepreneur and a finance professional, I can tell you that the nuts and bolts of a business are a different matter altogether.

Ideas, as we know, are a dime a dozen. An entrepreneur’s faith in their concept or product is critical, but it takes more than that to get a business off the ground and give it staying power. Even great visionaries sometimes struggle with the down-to-earth financial concerns that are crucial for sustaining a successful business.

The good news is that having an awareness of your strengths means that you can play to them, and partner with someone who can compensate for your weaknesses. It simply takes different skill sets to be the brains and visionary of the operation than it does to optimize daily operations, marketing, and accounting. I think of it this way: Diverse thought-resources are just as fundamental to smart business as diversifying your assets is to investing.

The next stage: Growing a business means growing up as a business owner

We entrepreneurs have a DIY mindset and are often used to doing everything ourselves. This mode of thinking can make it hard to relinquish control of responsibilities, delegate, and hire new staff. To scale your business up to the next level, you have to be able to let go. Otherwise, the unwillingness get your hands dirty can hold you back from further success.

Remain on guard against taking on too much responsibility by yourself. As your business grows, so does your position as leader. After the early stages, you assume a macro-level role: You should be working on your business, not in it.

The bottom line? Just as a five-year old child needs quite different care than their two-year-old sibling, a young business requires different strategies at different stages of growth. From vision to launch to expansion, execution separates the dreamer from the dreamer-doer. Anticipate the transitions ahead of time so that you and your business evolve accordingly, maximize opportunities, and grow most effectively.

 

IMAGE: rufino_uribe/Flickr
Last updated: Mar 5, 2013

ELLE KAPLAN | Columnist | CEO, Lexion Capital Management

A finance expert and self-made entrepreneur, Elle Kaplan is the CEO and founding partner of Lexion Capital Management, the only 100 percent woman-owned asset management firm in the U.S.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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