How to Shift Your Mindset from Short-Term Selling to Long-Term Success
Entrepreneur's New Year’s Guide
In business, there’s a constant battle between the present and the future. As humans, we’re wired for short-term benefits at the cost of long-term gains. The Stanford Marshmallow Experiment proved decades ago that the ability to delay gratification is a key factor in overcoming our shortsighted nature. While most people might have a vague awareness of this fact, there’s one area where this idea hasn’t caught on -- building meaningful relationships.
One of the biggest traps I see entrepreneurs fall into is treating everyone as a potential buyer. Entrepreneurs, especially when heading a fledgling company, are always in pitch mode. However, just because you can pitch someone doesn’t mean you should. Trying to turn everyone you meet into a sale might increase your monthly revenue, but you risk leaving incalculable value on the table in the long run. Few things are more important in life than who you know. Resist the urge to sell blindly, and instead foster deeply authentic relationships with those who can help you in the long-run, and you’re on the road to building something truly great.
Pursue connection, not expediency.
Expediency is everywhere in our society, and it’s one of the main things that separates the brilliant from the mediocre. Amazon is perhaps the best example of a company that rejects quick results for long-term gains. For much of it’s 20-year existence, Amazon never turned a profit, choosing instead to focus on growth. Now the company is a profit juggernaut, raking in billions in profit in recent quarters. Where would Amazon be if Jeff Bezos had instead decided to focus on maximizing profitability early on? Most likely with the rest of the companies that never made it through the dot-com bubble at the turn of the millennium.
Apart from growth and quarterly profits, delaying gratification has enormous benefits for your professional relationships. This can be thought of as the “piggy bank” model for relationships. When you’re saving, you can’t take money out before putting money in. Just like you make small deposits into a savings account over time, consistently deposit time and energy into your relationships, and in the end, you’ll have something far more valuable than a sale.
Mentor me this.
If I had tried to sell to everyone I met, I wouldn’t be anywhere near where I am today. What do you think has more value: a one-time sale or finding a mentor that will stick with you for years? Today, I have several incredible mentors who I carry deep, meaningful relationships with. Most of them are extremely successful in business, generating millions, even billions, in wealth. Most importantly, they are all incredible people who contribute to society and care a great deal about my success. Yes, we’ve talked about doing deals together, but I know being patient and selective will pay off in the long-term.
A few years ago, one of my companies won a small business competition that was judged by Shark Tank's Kevin Harrington. I developed a relationship with him, but like all good things, it took time to mature. Rather than trying to generate benefit from him from the beginning, I instead reached out to add value to some of Kevin's current projects. It wasn’t for the better part of a year after we had built a real relationship that we started doing business together.
Again, the importance of spending your time and energy on the right relationships cannot be understated. Ultimately it comes down to delaying gratification in pursuit of ever larger and mutually beneficial rewards. The benefits you'll experience by shifting your business mindset from short-term to long-term is what will lead you to have a rich network of close connections and invested mentors. If you help others and focus on building meaningful relationships, organic success will follow.