How to be an overnight success in business

It is the dream of most new business owners and entrepreneurs to have their business receive instant international attention and success and become an overnight sensation. That would be so much easier than going the traditional route of slowly building up your brand’s success, right?

Overnight success stories are hot topics in the business world and are somewhat a phenomenon with almost fictional qualities. One day a business was practically unknown, and the next, it is a household name. How did they do it? And how can you achieve the same success with your business?

In this article, we explore the idea of overnight success, how you can achieve instant success and some of the potential downfalls and realities of this overnight stardom.

What is an ‘overnight success’?

As the name suggests, an ‘overnight success’ usually refers to a business or individual who achieves success overnight. However, the word ‘overnight’ is a little bit deceiving. Most businesses that are met with this type of success have put years and years of hard work into their business, and the success they receive may have been a long time coming. More than likely, the business has been flying under the radar for many years, and their overnight success is simply a light being shone on them.

And what about the word success? When talking about overnight success stories, we are usually talking about both money and fame. Overnight success should involve a company receiving positive online attention, fame, and of course, be reeling in the cash. Sounds ideal, right? Well, there are actually a lot of downsides to instant success, and we’ll be discussing them later on in this article. Overnight success does not always mean mountains of money and fame. It can sometimes mean negative press and financial ruin.

While some overnight success stories can simply be lucky breaks, entrepreneurs striking gold, or someone coming up with a multi-million idea by a stroke of genius, most of the time, overnight success stories are about ‘average’ businesses who just have something unique and innovative to offer. At the end of the day, you need to remember that there is no real recipe for overnight success.

A few examples of overnight success stories

Some of the seemingly overnight success stories that many of us are familiar with include:

  • Mark Zuckerberg- founder of Facebook
  • Justin Bieber- Canadian singer
  • Uber- taxi-hailing app
  • Charlie Demilio- TikTok star
  • Instagram- social media app
  • Yelp- review app
  • Groupon- coupon reward system
  • Even though many of these businesses and individuals are known as overnight successes, most of them put years into perfecting their craft and trying out different ideas before they struck gold.

    We may think of them as extremely lucky but look at some of the intense hardships that Mark Zuckerberg went through with creating and maintaining Facebook. He went through legal battles and lost friends just for his business. If you want to learn more about this topic, watch the 2010 film ‘The Social Network’ about Facebook’s backstory. Overnight success is never as easy as it looks from the outside.

    Ways in which you could potentially become an overnight success

    With overnight success stories being so elusive, what are some practical ways that your business can achieve this expedited success? While we have already mentioned that there is no exact recipe to this type of success, there are few things that you can do to improve your chances.

    Have a celebrity get their hands on your product or service

    Once a celebrity tries out your product or service and loves it, they are bound to share your product with their audience, and this is an almost bullet-proof way to achieve overnight success, especially if their audience is made up mostly of your target audience.

    The difficult part is that celebrities already get tons of PR packages, and yours would more than likely get lost in the mix. Even if your product did end up in the hands of a celebrity, there is no guarantee that they would give your brand a shoutout. The more famous a celebrity, the more difficult it is to communicate with them.

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    However, what you could do is set up a deal with a famous influencer, Youtuber etc. Your brand could sponsor one of their videos or posts, and this would be a great way to connect with their large audience. Influencer marketing has given many relatively unknown brands the opportunity to achieve international stardom in a very short time span.

    Look towards the future

    There are so many ideas and products that have been done again and again. If you want your product or service offering to become an overnight success, you’ll need to ensure that there is something truly innovative and unique about what you have to offer. You are really going to need to stand out and future proof your idea!

    Look towards the future and come up with both a product and a marketing plan that caters for future clients and that will solve problems of the future. You need to be a visionary that others look up to.

    Make use of viral resources

    In this modern-day and age, there are a number of ways that you can go viral. TikTok and Instagram are just two platforms that allow for content, including business content, to really take off quickly. Many overnight success stories have these platforms to thank for their rapid success. Having a professional and talented social media expert on your team will really help as your content will need to be unique as well as very much on trend for it to truly take off. While going viral on social media platforms may look easy, it is usually either a lucky strike or many hours of hard work and dedication.

    What else can I do to achieve overnight success?

    As a business owner, there are a few other strategies and mindsets that you can adopt if you want to increase your business’s chance of early success (as well as prepare for your expedited success). Keep the following in mind if you want to expedite your success story.

    Check your surroundings

    Have a look around you and determine whether your environment is conducive to overnight success. Is there anything that you could change? Also, have a look at your team and ensure that everyone is on the same page. You need to have a team surrounding you that has the business’s best interests at heart and who you can really trust.

    Adopt tunnel vision

    If you want to achieve your goals, you’re going to have to work hard! This means keeping focused on your goals and cutting out any distractions that you may be facing, even if it is for a limited timeframe. You need to adopt tunnel vision and move forward directly towards your goals.

    Create short term feedback loops

    Create a system in which you are constantly receiving feedback on projects so that you know what can be improved upon the next time you do it and what can be left as is. This will help you perfect your processes, products, and services.

    Play to your strengths

    A way in which you can give your business a major advantage is to create a business that plays to your strengths. If you are knowledgeable about or have experience in a certain field, you’ll give your business a certain edge over some of your competitors if you take your business in that direction.

    Stay a step ahead of your competitors

    If you want your brand and product to remain relevant and have that cutting edge, you’ll need to keep a close eye on what your competitors are doing. This will help you to determine different market trends and help you see gaps that could be filled by your company.

    Invest in marketing

    To increase your chance of becoming an overnight success, you’ll need to invest in marketing, and in particular…online marketing. Marketing can be quite a costly investment, especially if you make use of an expert team, which you’ll need if you want to get your brand out there to as many as possible.

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    Open your business up to the international market

    If you want to be prepared for international success, you need to ensure that your business is able to cater for an international audience. Opening your business up to the world at large also gives you a better chance of your business being spotted by the right people that could bring you the success you’re looking for.

    The downside to overnight success stories

    While being an overnight success sounds amazing, there are definitely a few downsides that most business owners do not think of when dreaming of becoming the next big thing. Explosive success can often lead to disastrous results and situations, including:

    Insatiable demand

    When you achieve overnight success, you are most likely going to end up with more demand than you can physically handle. This may put immense pressure on you, your partners, and your employees. While trying to meet these new demands, your product or service, or even your delivery service, may become flawed because of rushing to try to get things done etc. While an increase in demand can be exciting and usually good news for your business, it can also be very stressful if you are not properly prepared for it.

    Dealing with complaints

    If you are battling to keep up with demand, you may not be able to meet new customers’ expectations, and this will result in complaints. Complaints, especially on a large scale, can be very difficult to deal with, and enough negative online reviews can turn an overnight success into an overnight disaster very quickly.

    Becoming an overnight success will also open your brand up to a much wider audience, most of whom won’t be your ideal customer. These customers may not truly understand what your brand is all about and may therefore be disappointed in your offering.

    A lot of online attention

    Is your business ready to deal with all the ins and outs of internet fame? Well, it should be if you want to be an overnight success. You’ll be getting a lot of attention online, and you need to have a team in place that can handle all of your PR. One wrong move, or one post that is not PC, could make you the laughing stock of the internet.

    You may become a passing fad

    What you want to avoid becoming a trend because trends boom and then they pass, and once your time of being popular has passed, you may find it near impossible to crawl back into the spotlight. You need to have a plan of action of how you plan to keep your brand relevant and be aware of trend cycles.

    Taxes and legalities

    Overnight success may push you into an entirely new tax bracket, and regulations that may not have applied to you before suddenly apply to you. Being caught up in legal issues is never good for your business, and you could be facing heavy penalties if you are not compliant.

    Do not compare your success to others

    When you start comparing your success to near-fictional success stories, you may start to feel a little disheartened. How can a 19-year-old become a billionaire virtually overnight while you’ve been slogging along with your business for over a decade and are just making ends meet? This sort of comparison won’t get you anyway and will only make you feel bad about yourself and your business. Rather look for ways in which you can improve your business, mindset, and strategies without using comparisons.

    At the end of the day, overnight success is never guaranteed. Most times, it is completely the luck of the draw and being at the right place at the right time. Instead of aiming towards being an overnight success, you should rather look at prioritising progress and focusing on sustainable growth for your business. 

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