Jim Collins, the author of “Good to Great” presents an analogy that I found to be extremely useful in explaining the phenomenon of extraordinary business growth.
He says that there are not really all that many true overnight successes. The reason we view them that way is because when the publicly visible upswing occurs it can be very dramatic. But, if we study what caused the successes, which is exactly what Jim Collins did, we often find that there were months, if not years of preparation leading up to that “overnight success”.
Collins explains it as a giant, heavy, wheel that is mounted on a center post. Imagine it like a big merry-go-round weighing many tons.
Something heavy has a tremendous amount of inertia. It’s impossible to spin it with a single hard push or even lots of individual pushes every now and then. More than anything else, consistent pushing is required to get it spinning.
Getting the business model articulated may be one long push, then making the right partnerships is another one, getting the right technology working for you can be another one, getting a key clients may come next, getting a bit of external funding, increasing market awareness, refining product offerings… you get the idea. All these things are pushes. Together they can get the wheel started in the right direction. It may be slow, but you just have to keep pushing and pushing. Soon it may be spinning at 1 revolution per minute, then 2, then 5, then 20…
Now, momentum is on your side. Steady pushing is still required, but each push now has greater impact and it starts to go… and go… and go. When it spins, and I mean really spins, it would take some really big set backs to even slow it down. You can then use smaller motors to keep pushing on your behalf. The whole goal is to just keep pushing. You just crank and crack.
At that point, you may get the media to tune in, and they may be there to watch you go from 20 revolutions per minute to 1000 rpm. From their perspective it will all have happened very quickly, without all that much effort. Well, they don’t know about the thousands of pushes the company made before the media started paying attention. It all started long before that with one single push followed by thousands of others.
Seeing incredible results requires consistency more than anything else. I’ve been pushing my company HouseFLIX for almost two years now and now we’re finally seeing inertia working for us rather than against us. There’s no way it would have even been spinning at all if I were the only one pushing. I’ve got several committed people working to make it happen. Together we’re seeing that big wheel turn.