The Flywheel: How One Step at a Time Builds Businesses
In Jim Collins’ bestselling business book “Good to Great,” he talks about a critically important concept for planning and executing on business strategies. He calls this concept the “flywheel.” It’s a visual illustration of the fact that most companies aren’t built from one moment of brilliance, but from the accumulation of effort over time.
A lot of people imagine big companies succeeding. They think of businesses that “explode” in popularity, like Facebook, and think that most businesses grow this way.
Yet the reality is, the most successful companies in the world simply didn’t have those sudden moments of success. Instead, they were built one painstaking step at a time.
==> The Flywheel Analogy
Imagine a giant flywheel, the size of a couple houses. It’s made of metal and extremely heavy.
What would it feel like to push on this wheel? It’s going to be very difficult. You could push on it for hours and it won’t seem to move at all.
Yet it really is moving, you just can’t see it. If you continue to push it, it’ll gradually start to move. It’ll move slowly at first, just a few millimeters a second. Then it’ll start moving faster. Then it’ll get to a point where it’s spinning quickly. Then it’ll get to the point where it’ll spin so fast that it’s almost impossible to stop.
This is how a successful company is built. In the beginning, nothing feels like it’s working. You can put in a lot of effort but you don’t see any results. There’s no magical moment when the business or the flywheel goes from not moving to moving quickly. Instead, it’s a matter of pushing through resistance and continually building up movement.
==> The Takeaway
The key takeaway is this: Stop looking for a magical moment when things will fit together all of a sudden. Stop looking for the one next tactic or the one next product that’ll solve all your problems.
Instead, understand that success in business is the culmination of many smaller successes and everyday hard work.
One step at a time is what builds businesses.
So how can you apply this principle to your company?
Start by identifying the most important tasks you need to do. Also identify non-urgent tasks that will move your company forward. Create systems that allow you to continually tackle these tasks.
If you ever get discouraged about the pace of your business’ growth, think back to the flywheel. You might not be able to see a difference, but you’re making progress. Your business is gaining momentum.
When you hit the point when you’re “successful,” you’ll look back and realize that there really wasn’t a point where things shifted. It was just hard work, smart work, every day until the results showed up.