You may have heard the term ‘delayed gratification’ but are not quite sure exactly what it means. It is however a very important principle to follow if you want to become an entrepreneur and successfully make money from your big business ideas.
Here’s an interesting question for you; just why do you eat? Your answer is probably because you must. Or because the food is there and everyone else is eating too. And when do you stop eating? When there is no food left on your plate or when you feel so full that your stomach is telling you that it could not handle even a bite more.
But what if you delayed the gratification that a meal offers to you until you can actually enjoy it? Doesn’t that meal taste a lot better if you have twenty minutes to enjoy it at a leisurely pace when you have the time to do so, rather than bolting it down in five minutes because that is when everyone around you is taking a lunch break too? That is a very basic example of delayed gratification.
The Marshmallow Effect
The positive effects of delayed gratification were famously demonstrated in an experiment conducted by researchers at Stanford University in the 1960s. The principle was simple. A group of schoolchildren aged four and five were gathered in a room. They were offered a single marshmallow by the researchers but also given the option of getting two marshmallows if they could wait fifteen minutes to eat the treat they had already been given while the adults ‘went on an errand’, leaving the room.
Obviously, some of the children opted to eat their treat right away, but others were indeed, even at that very young age, able to wait the time that they needed to in order to get the extra snack. The most striking thing about this experiment was years in coming though. Revisiting the children as adults years later researchers were able to note striking differences between the two sets of kids. Namely, the children, now adults, who had waited for their marshmallows were more likely to have graduated high school and gone on to college, were less likely to be affected by addictions and were generally better off financially.
Entrepreneurs and Delayed Gratification
At this point you may be wondering what all this talk of delayed gratification means to you, a person hoping to begin a business venture of some kind that will make best use of their passions. Well, if you look at your venture in terms of the marshmallow example, building a strong business will take hard work, patience, sacrifice and efforts. But the eventual results of those efforts should be well worth waiting for; they’ll be that second marshmallow.
“Beyond anything else, the thing that takes the most patience when starting a business is building your reputation,” comments Randall Isenberg, attorney and founder of the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg. “You know that the service or product you’re offering is a good one – but you still need to convince other people. This requires time, and work. You have to be patient as you do seemingly menial – or unrewarding – things. But if you can maintain a good performance, you will find that your patience pays off, and your reputation starts to spread.”
This delayed gratification can manifest itself in several ways. Sure, you really want to quit your 9 to 5 right now and maybe, a couple of months into your new business venture you are just making enough money that, technically, if you gave up your job right now you could just scrape by. But do you want to just scrape by? Of course not.
Although it will take longer to build your business by putting in a few hours a day while holding on to your day job than it might if you had eight to twelve hours a day to devote to it by adopting the slow, steady approach you will be able to build something profitable before you take on a role as a full time entrepreneur you will be able to enjoy being a business owner, rather than worry about where the mortgage payment is coming from this month.