We all need some time to kick back and relax, but taking it easy is not always a great thing for your business. If your company depends on consistent growth, slacking off can have a negative impact on your momentum for growth.
In business there is no standing still. With the increasing angle of innovation, you have to be in constant motion just to maintain your competitive position, let alone move forward. If you plan to get ahead, you need momentum to carry your business through the inevitable ups and downs.
Momentum is not constant, it ebbs and flows like the tide. Sometimes it seems like momentum comes and goes from day-to-day no matter what you do. Business challenges like the loss of a key employee or an unexpected supplier problem can spill the wind from your sails in an instant. Then just as quickly, you get a prestigious award or a big purchase order and all is right again.
When momentum wanes it can be hard to gather the velocity to surmount the next big hill. Are employees burned out or budgets stripped bare? Without the power to weather the doldrums, one thing leads to another and your best laid plans can quickly become unmet objectives.
Momentum Makes the Difference
The ability to manage momentum is a critical determining factor in which businesses succeed and which fail. Knowing when to hit the gas and when to ease up is as important as knowing where your business is heading. Even the best strategy won’t see you through if you don’t know when to invest or hire.
Do you hesitate instead of making an assertive move? Missing the market windows drains you of momentum, giving someone else an edge. At the same time, a rash decision can backfire if you fail to consider the full impact on your organization.
I think about business momentum like a roller coaster ride. Sometimes when you’re working really hard it seems that you’re moving so slowly that you will never reach your goals. In reality, your business is chugging slowly uphill with a purpose, gathering steam for the accelerated momentum that comes beyond the curve.
The hard work pays off once you get over the hump; momentum increases dramatically as you scream downhill. In those days, that longed-for acceleration is quite frightening. You feel out of control because things are moving so fast and there’s a temptation to step on the brakes.
The trick is to maintain control over both the direction and magnitude that create momentum. Stopping too soon will rob your business of the energy that is vital to starting the next big climb. An abrupt shift in direction to regain the perception of control can cause your business to get dangerously off track.
As you can see in the diagram below, momentum gets you through the ups and downs of business.
Momentum builds during the chaotic out-of-control times when you’re moving downhill so quickly that you can hardly enjoy the view. As you hit bottom, you lose momentum, burning through it to make the next uphill climb. And if you’ve managed it well, you’ve got the reserve benefit to move you over the next big hurdle.
Three Keys to Managing Momentum
1) Enjoy the ride when you have the opportunity, without hitting the brakes too hard. Keep the momentum going even when things are a little scary.
2) When times are good, don’t coast too long or you’ll miss out on creating the stored energy that’s critical to keeping business going through the peaks and valleys.
3) Don’t be afraid to use momentum when you need it to power through the tough times. You’ll build more reserves later.