A few weeks ago, I was in a meeting in which a number of people were advising a young entrepreneur on his new business.

At one point in the conversation, Sol Buckingoltz, a very successful Moscow-based entrepreneur who is also a potential investor in this business, said:

To achieve success you have to create success. If I can see you create a small amount of success with a small number of clients, I will then be confident that you can turn that initial success into real, longstanding success. What can you do to create a small-scale version of your idea with a few clients, over the next 60 days?”

It would have been easy, in the course of this lively discussion, to have missed the wisdom of Sol’s comment. But, fortunately, as soon as Sol said it, the importance and profundity of his statement hit me, right between the eyes.

I thought of the first months after I started my consulting business in 1997. I had plans. I had dreams. But these plans and dreams didn’t take on any real, tangible meaning until I had my first couple of projects with my first couple of clients. Even though these first few projects were tiny, relatively inconsequential and barely memorable, they proved to me that I could do it. This little bit of initial success became the launch pad that made possible everything that has happened for me since then.

I thought of one of my clients, who has a very successful program for attracting new customers. Even though this program now accounts for most of the new business this company gets, it started out as a tiny experiment by one of the company’s sales people. By creating a small amount of success, his company is now achieving great success.

I’m a big advocate of strategic planning. But the kind of planning I like is living, organic, flexible and evolving … it’s about creating an approach to your business that enables you to take a kernel of success and help it evolve into something more substantial. Great strategic plans are alive.

The best things in life aren’t pre-scripted. They evolve from something small to something big. And this is what Sol was teaching the entrepreneur… and the rest of us.

I’m sure there is some new initiative you are dreaming about bringing to life for your business. We all have these dreams. But so often it is difficult for us to get these new projects and initiatives off the ground, because the eventual success we dream for seems so far away.

Imagine, if instead of being at ground zero with this initiative, you had a small, successful prototype underway. Imagine if you knew you had already created a small amount of success with this initiative. Would that make it easier to achieve the eventual success you dream of? Wouldn’t this give you more confidence? Moreover, wouldn’t this make it easier for other people to believe in your dream… and then cooperate with you to make it happen?

On the surface, Sol’s idea may seem simple and obvious to you. But how often are you living by it? In my work, I see many companies stuck at ground zero with their dreams because they are unwilling to start with a small-scale version of the dream. Don’t get stuck. Listen to Sol’s advice. Create some success, and you will then be in a position to achieve success.


  • Chris Linn
    Oct 20, 2011 - 12:05 pm

    A simple truth – achieve success to create success. Yet, this so easily and often over-looked. One reason why we pay small attention to this is that business publications (books and magazines) and the business community at large reward, recognize, and honor those who achieve mega-success, quickly, e.g. GroupOn, Facebook. We perpetuate the notion that we must be hugely successful in a compressed time frame. Achieving the early, smaller successes needs careful thought and planning, including consideration to a reasonable time for the early success to occur. Nature shows us that some plants grow rapidly, while others take longer. So, too, the success of each business opportunity – new product, new customer development – has to be aligned with an appropriate growth rate for early success. My experience has been that this early growth rate is often misjudged in both directions – too quick or too slow. Maybe someone has an idea on how best to determine the pace for early success.

  • Jonny Cline
    Oct 25, 2011 - 11:31 am


    I have about ten winning ideas – on paper. They will not actually come into existence until I stop looking and start doing.

    Two of them I have bootstrapped. They exist.

    Now that I have brought those two to the limits of their unfunded potential, I have both the data and drive necessary to go out and bring in the funding necessary to expand.

    Thanks Steve!

  • Coaching Go
    Feb 02, 2012 - 08:23 am

    Thank you ! I am totally sharing this point of view !

Leave A Reply