Decoding "Work + Luck = Success" To Help You Grow Your Business


I’m keeping the math-centric posts rolling as this week we’re blowing up one of my favorite generic business adages…


In this post we are going to factor this formula down to its most basic components so that you can actually assess where you are today in your business and create a plan to grow.

If you’ve been following me for a while you probably know that I’m not a fan of buzzwords or generic business cliches because they don’t do anything to actually help you grow. Sure, you might be able to impress people at parties this summer by dropping two-dollar Lean Six Sigma abbreviations and generically quoting how important creating systems are to growing a business but, when it’s just you facing the white light of your monitor what are you actually doing to grow? 

Either not much or the wrong kind of work I’m guessing. 

I’m here to help you cut the B.S., take an honest assessment and start doing work that matters. “Working harder” probably isn’t the answer and throwing yourself a pity party by blaming someone else’s success purely on luck isn’t doing anything to improve where you are today. 

So let’s get into it. 

In the first round of factoring, I want to break each of the three components into either a more meaningful function or a clear definition. When we do that to WORK + LUCK = SUCCESS we get: 

WORK = Skills X Activity 

LUCK = The condition of creating excessive or unexpected value or return. 

SUCCESS = The achievement of some desired goal or outcomes. 

We can do better than this though and drill down another level. 

You know that working in your business is a function of your ability to do something and the actions you take every day. That work doesn’t help you achieve your goals unless you’re doing it directly in the service of the people you’re trying to help. So we need to add an extra variable, and then you can factor that down a little more by breaking out that work function as follows: 

WORK = Skills X Activity >> (Customers + (Skills X Action)) 

Now ontop LUCK. I’m not satisfied with the traditional definition because it doesn’t really paint an accurate picture of the stuff that you can do every day to help your business grow. So let’s massage that definition a bit by asking a question. How do you create conditions that would yield unexpected returns or value? You do that by showing up. Gary Vaynerchuk has a great analogy about “at bats”. To paraphrase, you’re not going to get good enough to hit a home run if you don’t step up to the plate as many times as you possibly can. So LUCK is about showing up consistently and in frequencies that are higher than you’re probably comfortable doing right now. Well, what does showing up mean? It means creating more opportunities for people to find you, engage with you, learn from you, get to know you and trust you. When you do more of that you’re more likely to see more people buy more from you. (Six Flags: More Flags. More Fun.)

LUCK = f(# of times you show up), where f( ) notation represents that it’s a function of the number of times you show up. 

Lastly is SUCCESS. This can mean almost anything to anyone. It really comes down to honestly and authentically understanding what drives you and your what your goals are. Success can be about serving a certain number of customers, hitting a revenue target or even growing enough to hire your first employee. The trick to measuring success is to quantify the outcomes. You can also think about success as a nested function meaning that your success might be the function of a whole bunch of quantifiable goals, benchmarks, and outcomes. 

It might look something like (but not limited to): 

SUCCESS = Specific Goals + Desired Outcomes

We just did a lot of factoring. Let’s put it all together. 


Really looks like, 

(Customers + (Skills X Action)) + f(showing up) = Specific Goals + Desired Outcomes

My factored out expression looks way more realistic to manage than the cliche adage. With my expression you can look at your business and decide where you need a little more support and focus directly on those parts. 

Neet more customers? Think about where they are coming from, your branding and how you’re showing up. 

Not delivering the results you promised? Think about investing more time into developing skills and knowledge. 

Working 100 hours per week and you aren’t seeing any growth? Think about the kinds of work you’re doing and how that work directly impacts the specific goals you’ve set for yourself. 
I could keep going but I think you get the idea. With this new expression you can create a real plan to not only get better but to track your progress. It also strips away all your excuses because it makes you responsible for everything that happens in your business. It makes it really hard to blame some hard to understand mystic concept of cosmic luck when things aren’t going your way. Are there going to be circumstances where probability plays a big role in an opportunity? Sure. But you can’t control that. What you can control is how often and how real you show up everyday and with that the probability of some unlikely probabilistic circumstance finding its way to you. 

Now that you have this it’s time to take a hard look at your business. Try assessing the work you’re doing against this simple expression. Try to tighten up how you’re measuring the work you’re doing as well as how you’re measuring the results. Then, start making your own luck.