workinprogress.jpgI want to share a business secret with you. It’s a secret that you may know already – a least mentally. Yet it’s a secret that often separates highly successful businesses from the less successful ones.

Are you ready? Okay…

No matter how well developed your business is; no matter how many years you’ve been doing it, how many customers you’ve served, how much money you’re making – your business will forever be a work in progress.

I heard this years ago from a colleague and fluffed it off with the usual, “yeah, of course!” But I was missing the juice of it. Only recently have I gotten a clear understanding of what it means. And only recently have I taken a close look at how having an unfinished business is the secret to success.

Thomas J Watson, the one-time President of IBM, once said, Whenever an individual or business decides that success has been attained, progress stops.” In other words, progress is necessary for a business to attain success.

And what does progress mean? According to The New Oxford Dictionary progress is the, “advancement or development toward a better, more complete condition.”

From these ideas, it’s easy to see that successful business are always in progress. And how could they not be?

If you run a business, you likely know more today about who you are, what you do, who you serve and how you serve them then you did when you began. Hopefully, you’ve taken what you’ve learned and applied it to your business – changing what doesn’t work, or what’s incomplete, for methods that are.

You see, a business will always be in progress because everything always is. It’s simple, really. So the real question isn’t whether your business is in progress – because it is. The real question is whether you are honoring the progress in your business. Are you making changes and adjustments as you learn more? If not, why not?

Is your business a work in progress? How?

What’s one thing, today, you can do to advance your business toward a better, more complete condition?

Reader Interactions


  1. lei says

    Progress is the ladder to success. It is really a continuing process and one should never stop to achieve his goal. It is the process of being succesful

  2. theGypsy says

    I always find myself drawn back to the continuous improvement model. As consumers and trends evolve, so must we. The business that is standing still is actually going backwards as the times move past. If it is a website or the entire business model, ongoing evolution is critical. Always maintain a continuous improvement model …the only way to fly!


  3. Dawud Miracle says

    So true. I phrase it differently, but it’s the same idea – business owners need to be in a state of constant development.

    How has that helped your business grow?

    It is, without a doubt. But how do you, personally, keep moving up that latter?

  4. Paul says

    Your business is a live entity which is always growing. There for you have to adjust and capitalize every day your business changes. I really like the way you phrased it.

  5. Jayson says

    Definitely agree. Innovation and change are the things that most successful companies are good at. It would be difficult to meet the needs of consumers if you’re not adapting to the changing world and constantly working to better your competition.

  6. Home Recording says

    This is most peculiar. In any case, since the system seems to be working, let me try and convey the same thing that I had commented earlier.

    The point that you make is a crucial factor in any human endeavor. All creations, including businesses go through a sigmoid curve, nothing fancy, just a “S” shape modified slightly. You start at the bottom by taking a dip, when you are investing, start to come up, when your revenues start to flow, grow steeply up, taper off and start a downward slope. All businesses and products go through this cycle. The trick is to become aware when you are about to reach the plateau and start a completely new sigmoid curve to keep the process going by innovating the product or the service or just about anything. Without such intervention, the business too, like any other organism in nature will get born, grow, decay and die. By innovating, you are renewing the process at regular intervals.

  7. Brooke says

    When I first started reading I was thinking the same thing that you had thought – Of course.” But then I read farther and read the line, “Whenever an individual or business decides that success has been attained, progress stops.” I had forgotton about that – and it is very true!

    My business is constantly changing, whether it be because I see improvements that need to made or because I want to educate myself in a certain area.

    Thanks for the reminder.

  8. Dawud Miracle says

    Really, it IS a living entity. It has a birth, a life and it will have a death. It will grow and develop like a child. It will eat, sleep and need to use the bathroom…

    And, if you’re an entrepreneur it’s important to keep growing with what you learn.

    Home Recording,
    Nice way to put it. And I think it’s important to realize that dying is always part of the cycle. It may not mean the dying of your business, rather it could mean the death of old ways of doing things to make room for new ones.

    Affiliate Marketing,
    Got the hammer in my hand…

    For me, this is one of the most important pieces of having a successful and sustainable long-term business.

    Dining Room,
    I understand. I sometimes do the same thing.

  9. Florida Auto Accident says

    An unfinished business will always have room to grow, adapt, and change which are the key elements to surviving in todays market place. Having the ability give an unfinished business what it really needs– potential

  10. Dawud Miracle says

    True. And it’s just common sense. You can never plan for what you don’t know. And you can’t know until you try something.

    I hear you. How best do you stay balanced between getting things done and staying open to change?

  11. Dawud Miracle says

    Social Media,

    Business Pro,
    Thanks for your feedback. Over the years I’ve found that it’s not the ‘secrets’ that make businesses successful. Rather it’s the execution of what’s known. Thoughts?

  12. Web Design Essex says

    Reading through your post, it struck me that there are parellels with lots of things in life.

    Launching a new website or web application.

    Building relationships with your partner.

    The property ladder.

    All of these things require constant evolution and development, exactly as I agree you should aim to do with your business as a whole.

  13. Dawud Miracle says

    Web Design Essex,
    I certainly agree. And it’s one of the major reasons that your business should always be under development. You’re going to grow and change all the time. And hence, so will your business.

  14. business information says

    I must say that this was a very valuable article and this is something that I will hold unto.

    There are personal reasons and this is that my father had a successful business too and he just thought that he was settled and did not strive to make it more better. He was happy with what he was and had.

    And then came the fall and the fall was bad and it even affected my education. Now I have a start up and I need to make ends meet.

    Thanks for the article again.

  15. yasinta says

    If it is finished, then there is no more gorwth and the business will likely wait for dying time, lol..
    Cool, I like your simple posts and the topic. It’s easily understood!

  16. Dom Angelo says

    my god, what a great post, I loved this post. Congratulations. Surely made ??a lot of us stop and think about the sentence of Thomas J Watson. I agree with him, because we think that we can never achieve success, because we must always be growing, creating new ideas and ways to grow. As you said, we learn more with our settings and even things that we were afraid to do.

  17. Troll Bilimi says

    Good business suggestion and a very positive outlook towards life. Conclusion I guess is, Success is not a destination, it is an ongoing journey.

  18. Six Pack Shortcuts says

    You know, this is the difficult part of any business. Leading a business is like sailing with a ship on the ocean, with ever changing winds.

    But what’s hardest for me, is that you’re never sure that the changes you are making are bringing you closer to your (new) goals or not.

    And that’s where your other post about measuring your success comes in.

    Change and measure, then change and measure some more 🙂

  19. rygestop says

    This is exactly why I became a small business owner, instead of a plain nine-to-five job. As a small business owner I can control in which direction I’m going, follow my dreams and pasions.

    Great article.

  20. landscaping fort lauderdale says

    I really like how this makes perfect sense… I guess a business is never done! is always a working project…

  21. Online sustainability management says

    a member if my finance team once said to me after discussing the state of our operations ‘we will get there’ which has always driven home to me the principle of continual improvement and the business being a work in progress. Love the sigmoid curve post. Our quality management system which adopts continual improvement ethic , allows us to review intiatives and objectives which in turn gives us new innovations on our service , provides differentiation against competitors and start a new sigmoid curve.

  22. Geert Verschaeve says

    When you reach the top of the mountain…your stamina drops.

    So I like your article a lot. Your business should never reach the top of the mountain, but continue reaching for new heights!


  23. Alease Michelle says

    That is the absolute truth. Right now, I am putting some new attention on the Social Media piece of my business. I also like to brainstorm ideas of how the same business can branch out to other areas. For instance, I know an creative that makes cute crafts and is now expanding to creating the tops for wedding cakes. You never know where your business will take you—and that is the fun of it.

  24. Pivot Doors says

    Very well said. In business it really needs consistency, hard work and determination to become progressive. I love all your thoughts here and I really appreciate it. Thanks!

  25. aishalal says

    a eye opening article, a business must be progressive and its totally depends upon your approach towards business, keep on learning & implement it in your growth of business.

  26. Old Palm Golf Club says

    Absolutely, makes sense. Our business can never come to an end because we need to earn and we have our old and new customers to handle. We may well give up our business but since we’ve dealt with real people it can never come to an end.

  27. Ida says

    You?re absolutely right. At the moment I?m running two businesses and I primarily started the second because I had become very succesful in the first one. And I already have a third one lined up.

  28. Today India News says

    Well said! For me having a web page is the most element to advertise your enterprise. It is also the best device to be connected with your present and probability customers.

  29. rawhideblog says

    having a business in a work is like running in a rat race. The most important is how let your business running by it self without your fully control and you just supervisor from other site.
    You build a trust and customer will find you.

  30. Azman says

    Actually the journey is more important that the destination. That is the exact reason why we don’t want to set a very low target.

    “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.” – Michelangelo

  31. Melatonin says

    I like the way we discover a silver lining to imperfections, incompleteness or failure in business, but there’s some danger attached to it too. You do want to succeed every now and then, reach your targets or complete a task. By complete I don’t mean exhausting it but getting the job done the best you can.

  32. Brand Consultants says

    “A mistake is only a mistake if you don’t learn from it.” To run a sucessful business, you have to learn from mistakes and continue to adapt your business model to an ever changing environment!

  33. Italien says

    You expressed exactly my point of view. I have been working nine to five for years and I?m so glad, that I chose to make my own little company. Every morning I get up with a smile on my lips, looking forward to the day instead of fearing the morning traffic. As long as my clients stay happy, I can do what I want.

  34. Mostafa says

    Yes I totally agree, I think that when running a business needs you need always to try and find ways to improve it and make better, because if you just sit & did nothing, the business will eventually fail, even if it was successful before

  35. baju muslim says

    I think to maintain your business you need to follow each trends. Because there is no business will last forever. Follow the trends, and you will never lose your business.

  36. Rejuvenated says

    Certainly a business is never finished and must always evolve. Perhaps eventually though you can get to the point where it isn’t just your responsibility and you can actually take some time off at last.

  37. nage maghanoy says

    I certainly agree!
    Your business would always be unfinished unless it’s no longer running.
    Unfinished business leads you to a larger prospect and a greater value.
    That’s our every goal, to progress!

  38. says

    I completely agree with you because its not just the philosophy of business but it works in your life somehow. Like your business always need improvement you are. Progression is all about the struggle, how much struggle in your business or life will make you as successful as much you struggled.

  39. Education Tay says

    I continually change something that is not the best fit or just no benefit. Yes, running a business is an ever changing experience, and three steps back to one step forward at present. The business environment means a business can never achieve a finish state with is changing and competitive nature.

  40. Steve says

    Hi… Dawud Basically it has seen that no one wants to Unfinished their Business. A Business would be alive while the business owners can’t stop to do better for a Business.


  1. […] Dawud Miracle has a thought-provoking post, “Why you want your business to be forever unfinished?” […]

  2. […] needing work is fine. It’s what having a business is all about. You need to allow your business to never be finished – to always be […]

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