History is full of “one hit wonders” that arrived on the scene, made a huge splash, were heralded as the next big thing — and then just as quickly, they disappear back into the obscurity from which they came (or more typically on today’s digital landscape, they earn a spot on one of those nefarious “whatever happened to…?” clickbait web articles).

Well, there’s a reason why the world’s most successful celebrities, athletes and performers earn a place in the collective consciousness; not to mention, earn a great deal of money over their storied careers. No, it’s not because they have the most talent or the best attitude, nor is it because they work the hardest or sacrifice the most. Invariably, it’s because they understand that the key to long-term success is about one thing: consistency!

And that brings us to the business world. Many startups have a great year and an amazing run, emerging from the shadows to the front pages of WIRED or Fortune. But the vast majority of them are nowhere to be found a few years later — and it’s because they couldn’t achieve consistency on a yearly, quarterly, monthly or even daily basis.

No, this doesn’t mean that businesses should dial back their momentum or scale down growth in order to “save some gas in the tank.” On the contrary, if there’s a strategic opportunity exploit, whether a business started yesterday or it happens to be called Apple or Google, then taking advantage of it is extremely important; especially since the window to act won’t stay open for long.

However, it does mean that businesses — whether they started last week or have been around for a while and want to stay in the game even longer — need to make consistency a core value that defines who they are, what they do, and why they do it. Considering this, here are three pillars of consistency that ultimately determine whether a business has a success story to tell, or ends up on a “whatever happened to…?” list:

  1. Consistent Vision

Making money is not a vision, and neither is being successful. Those are (certainly welcome and frankly necessary) by-products of an approach that is always aiming for something much bigger and more inspiring than a beautiful balance sheet.

  1. Consistent Quality

Whether a business delivers services or manufactures products (or often both), consistency quality is absolutely essential for long-term success, and a brand that is recognized and remembered for all of the right reasons. A prime example of consistent quality is demonstrated by Bee International, which manufactures and supports a range of high pressure homogenizers that consistently produce the same precise results, application after application.

  1. Consistent Customer Experience

McKinsey&Co has noted that the three C’s of customer satisfaction are: consistency, consistency and consistency. Anything less, and a business puts itself at risk of over-promising and under-delivering, which is a recipe for losing customers to the competition and exiting the marketplace.

The Bottom Line

On the business landscape, some years and quarters are better than others — and frankly, some can be just plain awful. But in the bigger picture, what matters most is consistency. Businesses that demonstrate this aspect in their vision, product/service delivery and customer experience commitment set the pace and lead the way.