Startup Diaries: Why an Overnight Success Takes Years

'Daisy' by Coral TurnerCoral Turner looks at why startups are rarely 'overnight successes' and what to do if interest in your business is more of a trickle than a flood.

This is the latest in the series of Coral's Startup Diary entries about the challenges of being a fashion entrepreneur. To see her previous blogs, click here

I’ve been meeting with a lot of my fellow female entrepreneurs recently who have been talking to me about the frustrations of their businesses, how the work they have been putting in has not been converting into the sales they need to sustain their business, and some are actually thinking of giving up.

Part of their frustration has been based on what they see other business owners doing, and how ‘successful’ they appear to be.

Their businesses, some of them say ‘were an overnight success’; they came up with an idea from their kitchen table and, hey presto, as soon as they took that product to market ‘the rest was history’.

Great fairy story, but even in fairy stories there are always the trials and tribulations beforehand, the treachery of those trying to stop you reaching your destination, and the danger of a dense forest filled with gremlins. Being in business is no different; it’s how you manoeuvre yourself out of the forest that’s important.

Let’s look at ‘why an overnight success takes years in the making’. A classic example are those in the world of acting; suddenly they are on the big screen, displayed in magazines, giving talk-show interviews; their love life is tabloid news wherever you go. However, what often goes unreported until that particular celebrity chooses to tell their story is that for years they only had small parts, or were extras; their big break came when..... 

You’ve set up a business, you’ve written a business plan, you have researched your target audience beforehand, built a website, or a bricks and mortar premises, your products are ready and raring to go, in fact you’ve followed the manual on ‘how to set up a business’ to the letter.

Now the results, well - it’s more like a trickle of business interest, as opposed to the deluge of customers your sales forecast had projected.

You were filled with such high hopes and expectations when you started, however, now the excitement starts to wane, and that ‘little voice of doubt’ that you had kept at bay whilst you were so busy building the business starts to whisper in your ear, and your friends pass well-meaning concerned comments. 

Remember the dense forest and all that you had to cut through to get to your desired destination; this is the time that you will have to dig a little bit deeper, not just within yourself and your thinking, but also in your approach to your business.

The questions you need to be asking are: have you been trying to do everything yourself? Who can I turn to as a sounding board? Have I overlooked anything?

Once you have examined these areas, the key is to keep on moving forward, putting one foot in front of the other. But what if you lack the motivation? Then my friend, that’s when you really have to ask yourself if you are truly, hand on heart ready to give your all to something that is going to require the patience of a Saint and a lot of time and energy. 

Your business seed is no different to a seed planted in nature, it will need to be nurtured and looked after, and in time it will start to grow roots, but that’s all going on underneath in the dark, which sometimes is how we feel when we don’t quite know what’s going on.

This is where your nurturing of yourself, your belief in yourself, your ability to succeed, moving your thoughts away from the baggage of the past, taking a firm grasp of how you are thinking, focusing on how you want things to be, as well as moving forward at the same time, will bring your business to fruition. 

When I first set-up in business the reality was not the same as the theory, however, the theory was all relevant in terms of preparation, having a plan, and direction. My first garment sale from my website was a dress called ‘Rafaella’; she travelled to Scotland and then there was silence. The next garment sale was a top called ‘Daisy’ who travelled to France, another time gap and then ‘Pixie’ a black cocktail dress travelled to Canada (the video of her journey is on YouTube).  I also found that having an e-commerce website as the shop window to my ‘Couture Boutique’ has given me access to people around the globe, and as a result of this my private bespoke work has also increased.

So, to my fellow entrepreneurs whose armour may be a bit dented from the knocks of running a business, remember you are not alone.

 There have been others that have been exactly where you are right now, take a deep breath to gain clarity and forge ahead to your desired destination.

“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, either way you are right.”
Henry Ford (1863-1947) 

To your continuous success...

Coral Turner is a fashion entrepreneur with an online boutique at In addition to her design work she also writes articles in relation to empowering self-image and confidence through the clothes that we wear.

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