The Trip is Often the Destination
Playing the long game when building a business
Starting your own business is a lot of work.
While the journey from generating an idea to making money is complicated and filled with countless steps, launching a business is one of the most rewarding things you can do.
When it comes to building your business, the trip is often the destination.
Gary Vaynerchuk, serial entrepreneur, five-time New York Times best-selling author and CEO of VaynerMedia, certainly knows what it takes to build a successful business — hard work, determination and most importantly, the ability to play the long game.
First known as a wine critic, Vaynerchuk disrupted wine criticism with his long-form episodic video show, WineLibraryTV, ultimately helping to grow his family’s wine business from $3 million a year to a company earning $60 million in sales annually. Today, his digital marketing agency includes more than 800 employees, servicing Fortune 100 clients such as PepsiCo, GE, Johnson and Johnson, AbInBev and more.
Doing is Better Than Dreaming
It feels like too many so-called entrepreneurs are more interested in being called an entrepreneur than being one. They’re looking for a shortcut — the quickest path to “success.” But entrepreneurship is a process that requires far more than just an idea.
According to Vaynerchuk, we’re living through the greatest era of fake entrepreneurship ever. “I truly believe that out of the 100% of people rolling as entrepreneurs, only 10% are what I consider an entrepreneur: somebody who’s self-sustaining, doing it the right and noble way and will be around in 20, 30 years and be respected and be proud of how they made their money,” he says.
There’s a misconception surrounding success: that it’s a destination, a point at which you arrive. These faux entrepreneurs — the dreamers — are trying to get there as fast as possible, but the truth is that there is no destination.
Whether a freelancer or founder, anyone who works for themselves is engaged in what I call the “perpetual side hustle,” or the concept that whatever you’re doing now pays the bills so that you can move on to the next thing. Again, it’s a process. These professional entrepreneurs truly don’t know anything else other than building upon their own ideas and can’t imagine not being in a constant state of hustle.
Stop dreaming and start doing. If you don’t live to do, to hustle, and are constantly in search of a shortcut on the path to success, you’re ill prepared to play the long game and ultimately build a successful business.
Finding Your Voice
For Vaynerchuk, success didn’t come overnight. While hailed as an incredible example of content marketing done well today, it took Vaynerchuk many episodes to find his voice.
That’s when the lightbulb came on. WineLibraryTV was way bigger than his clientele, so Vaynerchuk decided to just be himself. When you’re the most yourself — good, bad or indifferent — things tend to fall into place.
“Anything that holds you back from your real intentions and your real form is a vulnerability. You’re not helping yourself. You’re maybe solving for some short-term upside, but you’re hurting yourself for the long-term upside,” Vaynerchuk says.
Playing the Long Game
Long-term planning and investing for the future are crucially important when it comes to building your business. Just take VaynerMedia as an example. Vaynerchuk moved from selling wine to the client services arena — a move many experts questioned. But Vaynerchuk’s focus on the long game is what has driven his success over the last decade.
Successful people know what they want and pursue it with intense determination. They accept the process of success and do not have fixed outcomes on how their goals will be achieved. Along the way, the journey becomes a continual process of improvement, making refinements that lead to the accomplishment of the end goal.
Very few people are going to become billionaires overnight, but remember who won the race between the tortoise and the hare. Do things now in order to set the stage for bigger and better things down the road. Play the long game because the trip is often the destination when it comes to building your business.
Brian Clark is a serial entrepreneur and the host of Unemployable, a podcast and newsletter that helps freelancers and entrepreneurs build powerful small businesses.