The Snowball Effect

the snowball effectI’ve been on the lam as of late. People keep emailing me asking if I’ve stopped blogging or if I’ve met my untimely demise at the hands of one of the many bipolar cab drivers in this city. In reality I’ve just been laboring over the fruits of a snowball I started packing about a year ago.

Rolling the (snow)ball

Note: my knowledge of “snowmen” and “snowballs” is limited to a purely intellectual understanding. Growing up in Las Vegas and hot-as-hell Dalls, Texas before that I have had few experiences with “snow” and still distrust it’s freezing, stickiness in general.

I was thrust into the world of snow and snowmen when I went to university in Reno. My first experience with a snowman was in the courtyard of my freshman dorms where a bunch of frat boys were building a snow phallus instead of the traditional man – shocker. Was it traumatizing? Mildly. Does it have something to do with why I avoid snow to this day? Possibly.

Regardless of my tawdry experiences with snow in the past, it’s still an awesome metaphor for building a business.

The snowman

Building a business is much like building a snowman. Both start with an idea, and both grow in direct correlation with how long, hard and creatively their builder wants to work. Both also get easier and larger the longer you roll with them. Also, when you find steep hills (or business shortcuts) you can exponentially increase your growth rate while minimizing your workload.

Now this isn’t to say that either is easy to do. To get started building a really great snowman or business takes time and hard work. It’s cold, you’d normally rather be doing something else and often it stops you from enjoying the warmth of your fireplace and watching old movies.

Another part of building a business that those who have made snowman can understand, is the need to start over. When you build a business with a true vision it’s rarely a straight line pointed towards the sky. Snowmen are the same way, you have to roll one tiny ball into a big ball that represents the first layer of it’s snowbody, then you have to roll another and another and another.

Starting from scratch happens a lot in the business world whether you’re opening a new office in Europe or scrapping your entire business model in search of a better product/market fit (I’ve experienced this multiple times at Zirtual). But when you start from scratch you don’t have to lose all the things you’ve learned or gained previously – just like when you destroy one snowball to make a more perfect sphere, you use the sameĀ  snow – it’s just organized differently.

Look for hills and don’t stop rolling

That’s the best business advice I can give you… and that’s the snowball effect. You can’t stop rolling your snowball, ever, but as you roll it you’ll pick up speed, gain key team members and adapt to belief systems that will catapult your business to the next level.

Also, look for hills, these “shortcuts” lay all over the place and can be anything from a killer mentor who helps streamline your business process, to a supplier who is 10x as good as anyone else for half the cost. Just keep your eyes pealed and realize that the goal is to pick up as many snowflakes as you can – because all those snowflakes fused together will create a killer snowman, or an amazing business that you can be proud of.