You’ve probably heard the old saying “Nothing succeeds like success.” It’s been around for years and for good reason – because it’s true. While a lot of people can point to anecdotal examples of success breeding more success, no one actually quantified and qualified it until relatively recently.

Two Swedish researchers, Olof Rosenqvist and Oskar Nordstrom Skans, decided to look at 140 professional golfers in Europe and analyze their performance in making the cut for a pro golf tournament with a lot of money at stake. Approximately half of them would qualify in the first round to move on to the more competitive, higher-stakes second round.

What the researchers found was that there was statistically very little difference between the golfers who barely made the cut and those that just missed it. They were of virtually equal ability and qualification, but statistical analysis of their performance revealed that the ones who made the critical cut to move on to the next round were approximately three percentage points more likely to continue to succeed. Why? The researchers determined that initial success encourages confidence and confidence in turn creates a fertile breeding ground for more success. Of course, all of this can vary from person to person and there are other factors involved as well, such as talent (certainly no small part of the equation), available resources, and other critical elements needed to support success.

So how does this translate to business? Well, it means that every success you achieve – no matter how small – can help pave the way for additional success. It doesn’t have to be a big account win, a merger, or acquisition. It can be something as small as a project well done or an appreciative customer or client. What matters is taking the time and making the effort to succeed at something — no matter how big or small — because the confidence created by a task or project done well creates additional confidence and additional success. These things add up over time to significant success and a successful business.