To anyone outside of Montana reading the news, you’d think the entire state was one big forest fire.
While there are lots of fires, there are also lots of places that aren’t on fire, at least not yet. Interestingly enough, visitation at Glacier Park is up 11% this year, despite a very late opening of the Going to the Sun road, and of course, despite the smoke that annoys all of us. That 11% increase isn’t an accident.
Unless you’re one of our local Montana readers, you may not realize it, but forest fires don’t just happen overnight. A number of things have to happen first.
Brush grows up and thickens over the years. Layers of evergreen tree needles cover the ground and insulate previous years’ needle layers from the snow’s moisture. Snow melts as the days warm. The brush, downfall and needles on the ground dry as the weather warms and May/June rains finally stop.
Summer humidity levels that drop to single digits pull the moisture out of everything. Every day that it is hot or windy steadily prepares the forest so that it’s just a little bit easier to ignite. In the evening after a hot day, a thunderstorm forms in the mountains. Lightning strikes in the forest, igniting needles. At summer’s low moisture levels, it isn’t long before the brush and downfall are burning. As soon as the fire finds taller and taller “ladder fuels” that allow it to climb to the tops of the biggest trees, the fire is off and running. The fire generates winds, which accelerate the fire even more. Perhaps a storm or a late evening wind pushes it. The next thing you know, there’s a plume of smoke rising thousands of feet into the air, and we have a raging forest fire.
We’ve seen all it. So why do I mention it and what does it have to do with your business? Lots.
Your business is no different than the forest. The forest requires a specific set of actions and sustained momentum of those actions to get itself to a point where it can not only burn, but become almost unstoppable.
So does your business. You hear people lament the “overnight success” of some business people as if they didn’t “deserve it”, not realizing that they slaved away in their garage or basement for years during their free time, working while others were fishing, golfing, etc. “Suddenly”, that person’s “business forest” catches fire. It’s seldom an accident.
The steady drip-drip-drip of measurable, focused activity, steady improvement, one more product, one more service, one more customer, over the long term works just like a river created the Grand Canyon. If you only get 1 new customer a week, by the end of the year, you’ll have 50 new customers. What’s that worth to you? It’s your overnight success. It’s why you spent all that time in the basement, or got up early and stayed up late. Somewhere down the road, your business’ momentum would finally build to the point where the business catches fire. Whammo, you’re an “overnight success”.
You never hear anyone refer to farmers as “overnight successes”, yet they cut and bale thousands of rounds of hay in a few weeks in the summer or fall. They only get to do that because months earlier, they researched a specific seed line. During the previous spring, they turned over the soil and patiently let it sit all year while they earned nothing from it. Finally, they planted. They irrigated on a daily basis, monitored the seedlings, pulled weeds, fertilized, fought off pests, broke the soil up along the rows of plants and finally, the surviving hay matured so that it could be cut, let dry, and baled.
Overnight success, just like a forest fire. It isn’t an accident. It’s the result of momentum. Do at least one thing every day to get, or keep, a client – and you’ll become one.
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