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    Start-ups and high school physics


    Physics and business are more closely related than one would imagine. In fact, physics and start-ups have a ridiculously close relationship, which you should pay attention to. Some of the best lessons for any aspiring start-up can be taken from successful businesses. But in the very early days of your start-up, possibly the most value can be gained by drawing some analogies from simple high school physics.

    A close examination of Newton’s theories reveals that he had a lot more to offer than some views on physics. In particular, the laws of motion:

    Interacting bodies pushing and pulling in a constant state of flux. The principals are the same but more complex, as your laboratory is the market, in which nothing stands still.

    Newton’s 1st Law:
    An object in a uniform state of motion will remain in that motion unless acted upon by a net force.

    Start-up interpretation:
    Change doesn’t just happen, it is made to happen by things and people acting.

    If you want your start-up to improve, do something about it. Vary the marketing mix. Your start-up will remain performing as is (good or bad), unless you, the market, your audience or your competitors change behaviour.

    You must change to improve. The market might change for you, Your audience can shift behaviour. Your competitors can vary their marketing mix, or without telling you.

    If things remain constant, your just lucky.

    When your business changes, someone or something has acted to create the change. Our market, audience and competitors will change. Ignore this at your peril.

    It’s far better to embrace and create change, be the ‘net force’ so the state of motion is moving in your favour. Think law one: nothing changes unless something acts upon it.

    Newton’s 2nd Law:
    Force equals mass multiplied by acceleration.

    The rate of change of momentum of a body is proportional to the resultant force acting on the body in the same direction.

    Start-up interpretation:
    Your brand or start-up will only grow by the force of the energy that you and your evangelists (passionate users / early adopters) put behind it.

    If you want your start-up to grow, that growth rate (or decline) will be directly proportional to the effort you put in.

    Conversely, a competitor pushing us backwards with more force has the same impact.

    A start-up won’t just grow. Organic growth is a hoax. Organic growth is your customers or passionate users pushing it for you. In this case you’re lucky; you’ve managed to create an idea worth spreading. But it’s very difficult to do. If we simply rely on our ’great idea’ spreading organically, we’ll end up back in an office cubicle very quickly.

    In the end, growth is always your own responsibility. You need to be the force acting and pushing.

    Momentum is also a key success factor for any start-up.

    In classical mechanics, momentum is the product of the mass and velocity of an object. P = mv (a nice little equation for the start-up nerds out there).

    The start-up definition is a bit simpler:

    Momentum = How big you are x How quickly you do things.

    Hence, the momentum of anything will increase if one of the above factors increases while the other factor remains constant. That is, you don’t need both factors to gather momentum.

    A small thing moving fast can gather momentum. A big thing moving slowly can gather momentum. This is why big companies (although they react slowly) still have momentum. Their mass helps them maintain their forward motion and power.

    The lesson for start-ups is simple: to gather momentum, focus on speed.

    Stephen Sammartino escaped his cubicle after 10 years marketing global brands. He is now founder of two start-ups, recently launching rentoid – the place to rent anything – www.rentoid.com.