Spinning the Flywheel

Published: Jun 20, 2023

Below is a recycled post from one of my older blogs. I wrote this when I was in the midst of trying to get my first startup off the ground, so I approached the topic from that mental frame. Still, it remains useful and I often refer back to the idea when starting a new project or need some motivation. After the post I’ll share my current take on this concept.

Original Post

A while back I came across the concept of a flywheel. If you’re not familiar, a flywheel is technically defined as a wheel with a heavy rim placed on the revolving shaft of any machinery put in motion by an irregular or intermitting force or meeting with an irregular or intermittent resistance, for the purpose of rendering the motion equable and regular by means of its momentum.

Rob Berger defines the concept more simply in his article, “The Flywheel of Wealth (and the importance of patience)” as follows:

“A flywheel is a mechanical device designed to efficiently store rotational energy. Well, that’s how an engineer would describe a flywheel. I majored in English. To me, a flywheel is a wheel that’s really hard to get started. Once it gets going, however, it’s really hard to stop.”

Of course, Rob Berger was referencing the concept in his article with regard to building personal wealth, but there is also a strong parallel with the process of building a business (or any project, really).

Think about it. As founders we spend hours upon hours tweaking marketing funnels, building better features for our products, creating pitch decks; all to get those first few customers. And at the beginning, even a few customer conversions can seem like a lot. Some days you don’t see any progress, but you keep going anyway.

Why? Because the startup process is a flywheel. If you are patient and consistent about your efforts, the momentum will build and the work will pay off. So keep building, keep iterating, and don’t give up when it seems like things are moving slowly.

Get that flywheel spinning, and eventually it will become a difficult force to stop.

Current Perspective

While it’s obvious that I was deep in a startup founder headspace when I initially wrote that, I believe the concept can be applied to many aspects of life.

Think about the last time you started something new. Whether it was a project at work, striving for new fitness goals, or some other thing you’ve resolved yourself to take on, I’d bet it seemed daunting at first. Many new things are.

But, if you can use your initial motivation to get the flywheel spinning and get past those initial challenges, you’ll almost always find that things get much easier after a while. Persistence and consistency breed momentum, which is what the flywheel is all about.

Eventually, the momentum you’re creating will propel you toward whatever goal you’ve set for yourself and things will be much less likely to come to a grinding halt.

Keep that flywheel spinning!

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