The military has long recognized that machine guns are force multipliers for rifles. However, businesses have been slow to capitalize on this idea. Sometimes, all the planning in the world is not enough for business survival, when things change as fast as they do today. Every business, especially startups, needs to ready quickly on every opportunity, or insight into the market.
This point was highlighted well in a book I read, “Disrupting Digital Business,” by R “Ray” Wang, CEO and Principal Analyst of Silicon Valley-based Constellation Research. Every entrepreneur and small business should investigate and implement his seven new business force multipliers, paraphrased below:
- Information sharing through social media networks. The speed, interactivity, and sharing we can do today through Twitter, Facebook, and many others, is a major force multiplier. Communications that traditionally could only be broadcast to all, can now be done on a customized person-to-person level, interactively.
- Soliciting user-generated online feedback and reviews. User generated content that is immediately available to other users is another positive force multiplier. It can also be a negative force multiplier, if you are not paying attention as an entrepreneur, or choose to challenge your customer’s view of reality.
- Crowd-sourcing for funding and ideas. Crowd-sourcing allows entrepreneurs to bypass the experts and professional investors. This quickly validates the needs and efforts of today’s audience. New ways are being developed every day to reward and influence people who participate in crowd-sourcing, for a very low cost.
- Flash mob activities created for immediate impact. These can be used as force multipliers by creating “pop-up” stores or events, as an opportunity to get interest, attention, and sales. Apple did it with a pop-up store in Austin, to sell the new iPad to 20,000 technologists near the South-by-Southwest music festival.
- Nurture dedicated customer advocates and fans. Consider advocates to be a step up from customer engagement. Advocates talk about you and become influencers to the many who are undecided. These dedicated fans and partners believe so much in your brand, your cause, and your product. In return, they do all the force multiplying work for free.
- Improve situation awareness for real-time decisions. This means that your network has connectivity to the right people and groups. They can hear the right information at the right time and place, to make speedy and informed decisions. It is a force multiplier by allowing your business to react and jump into something important, before everyone else does.
- Do predictive hot-spotting to anticipate near-term changes. Effective prediction of the future is the ultimate force multiplier. It is already in use by law enforcement to predict security hotspots, health-care to predict needs. Most businesses are far behind in the use of analytics and big data. It is time to exploit your network for trends and direction.
If you are not having success growing your startup, then you are not going to grow fast enough to be competitive, especially against the larger entrepreneurs, that have a full infrastructure in the marketplace. These force multipliers allow you to scale up rapidly, and reach opportunities you could not support, any other way.
Force multipliers that are used without focus are not enough to make a company great. Top entrepreneurs still have to decide what activities and tools are the most important for their domain and their environment. We all have limited resources and time. We need the right force multipliers to leverage every element of both.
The concept of force multiplication goes far beyond your startup networks. Simple force multipliers, like product cost reductions and powerful new software tools, have been around for a long time. Every team member needs to constantly seek forces that can multiply their impact and productivity. What new force multipliers are you using in your startup today?
Image Credit: CC by DVIDSHUB