Popstar Cheryl Cole has more in common with Toyota boss Akio Toyoda than she might think. Today, the 26-year-old X Factor judge revealed that her marriage to Chelsea footballer Ashley is on the rocks. At the same time, reports surfaced that the 53-year-old Toyota President admitted that safety problems within his company could have arisen because of rapid growth in the firm. Both of these situations have remarkable similarities, which present a warning to anyone running an Internet business.
Relatively sudden fame and wealth, a rapid change from an “ordinary lass” into an international star is difficult to take. Frequently, people with a rapid rise to fame and fortune find it difficult to cope. Indeed, lottery winners often don’t enjoy their instant fortune and many of them subsquently lose their cash. The goldfish bowl existence of Ashley and Cheryl cannot have been easy for either of them. Equally, the meteoric rise of Toyota from a Japanese manufacturer, to a global force that become the worlds’ Number One vehicle manufacturer was very fast. It took 62 years for the company to establish itself as the leader in Japan, but then less than a decade to become the world’s top car maker. Such a sudden change in fortune could well have been difficult for the company to take.
Whether it’s a business or a relationship, rapid change is something we cannot easily cope with. Even today, Apple has revealed it has a flaw with iTunes. The company changed its policy and removed 6,000 Apps which it deemed unsuitable for youngsters who use iPods and iPhones. You could argue that the dramatic rise in popularity of the iPhone and the exponential increase in Apps, caught Apple “on the hop”. A slower rise in fame and fortune would have enabled them to deal with this issue with less of a sledgehammer approach. It is the sudden and massive availability of nudity in iPhone Apps that caused the issue – together with a clear weakness in iTunes itself (the lack of age restrictions on the “front end”).
Sudden growth is clearly difficult to handle. If it’s the fame and fortune of pop stardom or a footballer’s wage, or a significant rise in market share of a company, problems arise. Yet, everywhere you look on the Internet there is advice on how you can grow your business “overnight”. You can download ebooks that promise to help you double your conversion rate or steal market share. The attraction of large rises in your company fortunes or your personal wealth sound interesting. Yet, even if those hyped up promises can be achieved, what happens afterwards?
How will you cope with double the market share? What will you do if your conversion rate goes through the roof? What will your relationships be like if you have sudden wealth that you spend on worldly goods? People who grow rich slowly learn to cope with the pressure that the additional wealth brings. Companies that gradually increase their market share discover ways in which they can accommodate the new business.
When things happen quickly, mistakes are almost inevitable. So, your online business is most likely to fail in the long term if you seek rapid growth. Remember the Dot Com Crash? Companies that ballooned overnight are no longer with us. Companies that grew gradually online, including Google and Yahoo, are still around. The tortoise and the hare anyone? Don’t try to be an instant success online – whether it’s with visits to your website, readers for your blog, or clicks on your PPC campaigns. Instead, go slowly but surely – it’s the best way of succeeding.
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+