It Takes Time for Anything to Reach Its Full Potential

When I’m passionate about an idea, my mind races. I think of ways to maximize the potential I see. I visualize the idea as a success. I’m mentally at the finish line before I’ve even started running the race. I see how it can add value to customers’ lives, how it will run, how many people are needed, what those people will do, and on and on. Then I have to tell myself, whoa. It takes time to get to the finish line. The idea will get there, but not on day one. When it does, it might not look exactly like my vision.

When an idea has great potential, I want it to be realized immediately. Unfortunately, things don’t work that way. After a decade-plus as an entrepreneur, I still have to remind myself of that. It takes time to learn what your customers want, develop what they’ll actually pay for, build a team, and work through the unexpected kinks.

Most worthwhile businesses didn’t start off anywhere close to where they ended up. Netflix began by shipping DVDs. Now it has a huge digital content library and creates original movies and shows—all delivered digitally over the internet. Amazon started off selling and shipping books. Now it creates movies and TV shows, owns a grocery store, and sells computing power to companies of all sizes. Oh . . . and it’ll sell you anything you can think of and deliver it in two days. Facebook got its start connecting college students over the internet. No one had any idea how or when it would make money. Now it generates $70 billion in annual advertising revenue, runs a social network that connects the world, helps people share images via Instagram, and offers free cross-border mobile communication via WhatsApp. These are extreme examples, but you get my point.

Greatness doesn’t materialize on day one. It develops over time and the journey is a valuable part of the process. Things that weren’t obvious at the outset are discovered along the way and help inform where you end up.

The next time you’re excited about a great idea with lots of potential, savor the feeling and look forward to the ride!