Work longer < work harder < work smarter

When you first launch your venture or your organization or group or initiative, you might throw every waking moment you have at it. You log lots of hours, play many roles and simply aim to outlast any competitors. It’s a blind outpouring of time. You start by working longer.

In time, you get to know your needs, strengths and shortcomings better. You add support and focus your efforts. You do a lot of research and plenty of outreach to refine your work. You’re still logging long hours but it comes with greater savvy. You grow by working harder.

It’s here that efforts can go one of two ways. Many will grow in this way, by working hard and simply letting product and chance decide winners and losers. That can work, but the greater goal (and therefore the greater challenge) is to transition once again.

As 19th century French writer Emile Zola said: “The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without the work.”

You could begin innovating beyond your origins. You could partner or compete when best suited. You might know well your market differentiation, exploit it and grow it. You succeed by working smarter.