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Understanding the Growth Journey of Firms: Beyond ‘Overnight Success’

Work Hard to get your Overnight Success.

During Technology Due Diligence, one of the intriguing aspects of examining companies is observing their growth trajectories. Their Overnight Success is anything but…

A recurring pattern emerges when we delve into these narratives: many firms experience limited traction during their initial years. Whether it’s an early-stage startup heading towards its venture-backed Series A or a Private Equity buyout many years later, this trend is consistent.

Those early years were lean.

The Reality Behind ‘Overnight Success’ Stories

This insider’s perspective we gain from due diligence contrasts the ‘overnight success’ narratives in industry headlines.

Much like in other creative fields, such as film, these so-called immediate triumphs often have years of hard work behind them. Take products like Notion and OpenAI/ChatGPT; I believe both navigated close to eight years of understated stealth-like growth before they burst onto the scene as ‘overnight successes.’

Challenges Posed by ‘Overnight Success’ Myths

This skewed perception has its set of repercussions:

  1. Team Frustration: Without access to these broader industry narratives, teams may grow disheartened by the perceived slow progress.
  2. Founder’s Self-Criticism: Something we see a lot in Technology Due Diligence – Founders often judge themselves harshly during these foundational years, not recognising that what they’re displaying is, in fact, commendable perseverance and determination.

The Power of Perspective

It brings about an intriguing question: Is it more beneficial to know that success typically takes longer, or would such knowledge potentially demoralise a team? Is there an advantage to remaining blissfully unaware?

My perspective is that understanding a more realistic timeline for success can be advantageous. When teams and founders are aware of this, they can:

  • Adopt a more thoughtful strategy rather than hurriedly bouncing from one attempt to the next.
  • Embrace a longer-term view that values steady growth and progression.
  • Prioritise establishing a strong company culture, celebrating incremental achievements, and emphasising the significance of small victories.

Navigating the Path to Genuine Success

Indeed, successful SaaS products shine brilliantly when they’ve been refined and perfected, but navigating the often challenging 2-4 year growth phase requires insight, patience, and a long-term perspective.

It all circles back to the age-old wisdom: “Enjoy the journey.” In the world of startups and business growth, it’s not just about the destination but appreciating and learning from every small step taken towards it.

Hutton Henry
Hutton Henry
Hutton has worked with Private Equity Portfolio firms and Private Equity funds since 2015. Having previously worked in post-merger integration for large firms such as Ford and HP, Hutton understands the value of finding issues prior to M&A deals. He is currently the founder of Beyond M&A and provides technology due diligence for VC, PE and corporate investors, so they understand their technology risks before entering into a deal.

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