If You Want To Build a Successful Company, Think in Decades

Get-rich-quick schemes are all over the internet.

  • “Make $10,000 in the next 30 days.”
  • “Build a six-figure business in six weeks.”
  • “Follow my 10-step path to millions.”

The reality of entrepreneurship is far different than the sunshine-and-roses pictures many online business gurus paint.

The outcomes they speak of aren’t fake. The timelines just need to be adjusted. 

If you’ve wondered what makes a business successful, stop fantasizing about winning big in weeks or months. Instead, expect it to take years and decades.


The shared traits of the world’s most successful companies

What are some of the biggest names in business today?

You’ll probably think of companies like Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and Facebook. All of these businesses are decades old. The founders of each of these companies had periods when they had their heads down, working frantically for YEARS before they developed successful companies. 

Even if you don’t have ambitions to build trillion-dollar companies, embracing the same mindset as the founders of these companies would help. 

These businesses all have the same thing in common as any successful company: You must keep a long-term mindset and go through the following scenarios that all new businesses face.


Mistakes are part of the process

The only way to avoid making a mistake in business is to have the ability to predict the future. 

Since you’re not clairvoyant, do the next best thing and embrace the fact that you’ll make mistakes, try things that don’t work, and course correct over long periods of time to eventually find your winning products, marketing strategies, and revenue streams.

From Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon:

I’ve made billions of dollars of failures at Amazon.com. Literally […].  None of those things are fun, but also they don’t matter. What matters is companies that don’t continue to experiment or embrace failure eventually get in the position where the only thing they can do is make a Hail Mary bet at the end of their corporate existence.

If you can’t deal with failure, you’re thinking too short-term. 

You’re worried about your short-term emotions instead of your long-term goals for the business.

Most would-be entrepreneurs either put off starting or quit early because they can’t zoom out and see that mistakes are part of the process. 



You’ll go through serious rough patches

There may be times when all hope seems lost.

The board of Apple fired Steve Jobs. After that, the company almost went bankrupt and begged him back to run the company. The company itself was on its last legs and made a roaring comeback. So did Steve.

Along the path to becoming one of the world’s greatest entrepreneurs, he bounced back by thinking long-term. After getting fired from Apple, he launched a product doomed for failure.

Some people say this was a shrewd play. Jobs’ company, Next, created a computer that failed in the mass market but had an operating system that would improve Apple computers. So Apple, after experiencing its own struggles and losing most of its value, bought the company and brought back Jobs as the CEO. 

Regardless of the details of the story, the moral matters:

As an entrepreneur, you may face a point where everything around you feels like it’s going to crumble to dust. But, if you have a long-term mindset and decide to find a way to succeed, odds are, you will eventually.


The evolutionary nature of successful companies

It takes time to figure out how to create the right product. The nature of your business will change. You may end up with an entirely different business or set of products than you had in mind when you started.

If you look at any successful company, you’ll see changes and evolution of the company over time. 

Alex Hormozi, a best-selling author of $100M Offers and founder of multiple million-dollar companies, started his career by buying a gym. He then opened multiple gyms, sold them, and lost all of the money he made due to an issue with his payment processing company. He famously found himself down to his last thousand dollars after making a six-figure exit. 

After that, he started a business where he flew out to gyms and did all the marketing and sales for them, which eventually became a multi-million dollar business—but not without hiccups.

He’d fly out, fill the gym with new members, and only keep the cash he collected, leaving the gym owners with the remaining lifetime value of the members. Some owners decided to refund all the sales he made for them and offer discounts. This brought Alex and his company back from the brink near zero.

He eventually turned his in-person gym launch company into an online course to help gym owners worldwide. And the rest is history. Before the huge success, though, he had to go through maddening setbacks, multiple product pivots, and much iterating until he found an offer that worked ridiculously well.


Follow in the footsteps of successful founders

I used stories to illustrate the point because seeing what others have gone through can help you stay the course. 

Some good habits you can pick up if you want to become the owner of a successful company:

  • Read biographies: When you read the stories of other business owners and notice the timelines it took to succeed, the ups and downs, and all the course corrections they had to make, you’ll be inspired to stay the course.
  • Watch CEO interviews: Instead of watching spammy business gurus promising to help you make $10k per month, you can watch interviews from some of the world’s best founders. These videos get far fewer views than viral business guru videos, which is telling when it comes to the mindset most entrepreneurs have.
  • Focus on their origins: Don’t look at how successful people are today. Dig into their past and see what it took for them to succeed. Do this often enough, and you’ll realize there’s no such thing as an overnight success.

Nearly one hundred percent of successful business owners have these traits in common:

  • Their first business wasn’t the business that hit big.
  • They had to experience several brutal and crushing blows before hitting paydirt.
  • They never let their short-term emotions stop them from achieving long-term success.

Use these stories as inspiration. And keep some of the following thoughts in mind as you focus on building the business of your dreams.


You only have to be right once

This is one of my all-time favorite quotes about business:

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This is the beauty of the game.

  • One major success can wipe away the stain of every single failure you’ve ever experienced.
  • One winning product can make up for the graveyard of duds. 
  • One little idea from the endless ones you tried can work so well that none of your failed efforts were wasted. 

Your past failures won’t feel like a waste of time because they weren’t a waste of time.

Often, failure brings you closer to the right answer.

In sales, there is a saying:

Fight through the no’s to get to the yeses.

In business, you can fight through the failures to reach success. You do that by reframing the way you view it. You realize that you only need to be right once, so you’re trying to get to the right answer faster by making mistakes.

Of course, you never want to get it wrong on purpose or aim for failure, but since you know it will likely be part of the process, why not get through it? 

This is where the power of thinking in decades comes in.


Embrace the decade mindset

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If you put it in your mind that this will take a decade or more to work, you can get to work on developing a successful company.

Truth be told, you’ll experience wins faster than a decade’s time, but those wins will feel more rewarding if you don’t expect them. There’s a psychological bias called anchoring.

Your mind uses contrast to form opinions.

If you expect it to take a decade, but it only takes a few years, you’ll be thrilled.

If you expect it to happen in months, but it takes a few years, you’ll be disappointed. 

Same time frame but coming from a different perspective.

Use a decade as your anchor and work backward from there. 

You’ll have a winning company in no time compared to what you originally planned for. 

With that vision in mind, work back to the present moment to start building your business with a sense of urgency.



Develop the skill of impatient patience

You want to keep a patient long-term time horizon while working with a dogged sense of urgency.

Think back to one thing that needs to be done today to move your company forward.

A decade from now, you might have a set of full-time employees, a huge product line, and millions in revenue. 

If you’re brand new, though, you might need to figure out how to sell one thing to one person.

After that, you focus on selling the same thing to more people. After making enough attempts at selling it, you’ll spot whether or not it’s a good product idea. At that point, you can double down on it or pivot.

Regardless of where you are in business, there’s a next logical step to make right now that helps build your decade-long vision by doing what needs to be done in the short-term (while also not letting your short-term emotions get in the way).

It’s the need-to-be-done-today actions, repeated over and over again, that create the vision.

Actions like:

  • Sending 100 DMs or emails to prospects
  • Doing 200 cold calls
  • Creating content
  • Working on your sales page
  • Contacting suppliers overseas to make samples of your physical product

There are tons of big and small tasks that need to be done in every business pretty much daily. The quicker you execute them, the closer you’ll move to your goal of building a successful company.

It’s not the big things that trip people up when it comes to business. It’s doing all of the little things quickly, over and over again, for an extended period of time.




If your timeline is the rest of your life, it will be pretty hard to lose

Get-rich-quick schemes and the promise of millions might make you feel good, but they won’t actually help you make money. It’s a fun fantasy, but the truth about entrepreneurship involves long-term thinking, the ability to overcome mistakes, and tons of grit. 

The stories you read should inspire you to settle in and do the necessary work to have the type of business you want.  

Embrace the journey.

It’s tough, and painful at times, but it’s rewarding. Imagine yourself in the future, looking back on what you spent so much time building. You’ll crack a little smile knowing just how much you went through to get where you are today.

You’ll appreciate what you had to go through and realize that, despite the tough moments, you’d go back in time and do it all over again because it made you the person you are today.