The military has long recognized that machine guns are force-multipliers for rifles, but businesses have been slow to capitalize on this concept. Sometimes all the planning in the world isn’t enough for business survival, when things change as fast as they do today. Every business, especially a startup, needs all guns blazing quickly on every opportunity or insight into the market.
This point was highlighted recently in the book, “Disrupting Digital Business,” by R “Ray” Wang, the CEO and Principal Analyst of Silicon Valley-based company, Constellation Research. I recommend that every entrepreneur and small business investigate and implement as many of his seven new business force multipliers as possible. His advice is as follows:
- Information sharing through social media networks. The speed, interactivity, and sharing we can do today through the social media networks of Twitter, Facebook, and many other platforms is a major force-multiplier. Communications that could traditionally 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. Of course, 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.
- Crowdsourcing for funding and ideas. Crowdsourcing allows entrepreneurs to bypass the experts and professional investors and get quick validation and help for efforts that meet the needs of today’s audience. New ways are being developed every day to reward and influence people who participate in crowdsourcing, for a very low cost.
- Flash mob activities created for immediate impact. These can be utilized as force-multipliers by creating “pop-up” stores or events at a moment’s notice in the middle of an opportunity to gain 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 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 that 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 to hear the right information at the right time and place to make speedy and informed decisions. It’s 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’s already in use by law enforcement to predict security hotspots, healthcare to predict needs, but most businesses are far behind in the use of analytics and big data. It’s time to exploit your network for trends and direction.
If you want to grow your startup, and you are only reaching one customer at a time, one market or one partnership at a time, you’re not going to grow fast enough to be competitive, especially against the larger players 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.
But force-multipliers 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, and need the right force-multipliers to leverage every element of both.
Of course, the concept of force-multiplication goes 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 NEC Corporation of America.