We sometimes feel awe and envy when we see someone we believe has made it, especially if we’ve hit a snag in our own business efforts. It’s only human to think that they must know something we don’t know, or have something we don’t have. Perhaps they do. Minimally, they had a vision they were willing to fund – over and over – with their time, energy, finances and heart.

We don’t see someone in those very early stages of their great idea when she or he is planting the first seeds. Unless we are among their close circle of friends, we are completely unaware of others as they crash and burn through their uncertainty, doubts and fears. The moment they become visible to us is the same moment when all of their hard work has finally “paid off.” Think about it. Any success story is only told in retrospect, not during development.

Let’s take a look behind the scenes and consider what it takes to be an “overnight success.”

No matter how long or short the road to it, success always starts with an idea. No matter how great, an idea doesn’t become a viable product or service overnight. You first have to name it, decide on your service offers, who you want to work with, the potential impact on those you serve, how you are going to get the word out, what help you need, and so on.

After you have put some of the first critical pieces together, it’s time to try your idea out in the world. (Sometimes the world consists of a few close friends.) With a little bit of testing and feedback, you might then realize you were off by a hair or two. So you go back to the drawing board, trim a little here and add a little there. This is a tender, vulnerable stage of any endeavor. It’s vulnerable to anything that challenges its existence and survival. That precious idea you have can just as easily shrivel up as it can begin to germinate.

At times the idea does dry up. You realize it’s not quite right, your heart’s not into it, or some circumstance demands you put it aside. But, I do think that if the idea was born from the very depths of your soul, it never fully leaves you. You will meet up with it again and again. Still, it will always be up to you to heed its call.

Life is not glamorous when your hard work hasn’t yet paid off. As a matter of fact, it sometimes sucks. We are so conditioned to measure our success by our results instead of our actions that we don’t acknowledge ourselves when our efforts don’t pay off the way we think they should. Instead, we subject ourselves to self-criticism, doubt, anger and the concerned comments of others. We don’t see one “yes” and five “no’s” as a win. There’s a saying in the sales world: One more “no” brings you closer to a “yes.” But when you are smack in the middle of this trial and error period you’ll be hard pressed to remember this.

If you don’t give up and effectively use all the feedback the universe has so generously given you, finally, something happens. All of a sudden you don’t have to work quite so hard. Results show up “out of the blue” from seemingly unlikely places. You focused on A and got a result from B. People begin to seek you out. People think they’ve heard of you, or your product. “Miraculously,” people find themselves needing just what you and your company has to offer at just the right time.

This is also the moment when you become visible to the rest of us. This is when we take notice. We think how amazing you are. We think we wish we were like you. We wonder what secret you have we don’t have, what good fortune must have come your way. Then we think of our own seed of an idea and wonder, “Can I do that?” What we decide in that moment determines the outcome. Fortunately for most of us, we have many moments in which to decide the answer to the question.

Some of us take a few years to answer it with “Yes!” Is this yours?