Removing Friction – Building Business Momentum


Momentum in the business sense refers to the speed and direction a business has as it grows. Momentum covers all business movement, but the size of that movement could be great or minimal. In business, and in physics, there is one force that impedes momentum: friction. And friction in your business is like putting the brakes on.

Friction comes in many types and sizes, and whether you can see it or not, it is like applying the brakes to business growth. Friction can occur because of people’s behavior, company culture, and poor or nonexistent systems. These causes of friction can be summarized as a lack of structure. This missing structure may not have an adverse effect during the early stages of the business when creativity, energy, and motivation are on full throttle. As the business matures, and rhythms fall into place, those qualities are quickly converted to frustration and exhaustion. With structure, the business can move beyond the building blocks and into a steady flow of productivity.

One of my favorite phrases is Structure Frees You. In most cases when The Walters Groups works with small businesses, we begin by implementing some kind of structure where little or none exists. Five of the most common areas needing structure are controls, tracking, organization, measurements, and priorities. These things do not necessarily occur organically. They need to be assessed, addressed, and implemented to the scale that is appropriate for the situation and the business.

    • Controls like policies, procedures, established norms, and company boundaries help remove or prevent friction by reducing duplication of effort, reinventing the wheel, arbitrary decisions, and impulsive
      actions. They also create a foundation for consistency that benefits employee expectations and customer
    • Tracking is often inaccurate or missing altogether in the business that is struggling with slow momentum. A business must monitor accurate and honest data. This data is central to assessing, learning, adapting, and good decision making. Not all trackable data is numerical, but proper interpretation may lead to numerical significance or impact.
    • Measurements are integral to tracking and are the numerical representation of important business benchmarks. These benchmarks are often referred to as key performance indicators, and they will vary from business to business. Measurements must be productive; not everything that is quantifiable will facilitate business growth.
    • Organization does not refer to the chart or roles and responsibility of a company. It is the structured and intentional way the company operates and compiles information, documentation, and financial data. It is about efficiency and productivity.
    • Priorities must be carefully set, and they require disciplined thought and action on a daily basis. Centering the business on priorities marks the difference between a reactive and proactive enterprise. The reactive company is in a constant state of urgency and activity without clarity. The proactive company makes every decision according to its priorities. This ensures the important stuff is being addressed and getting done.

While many small business owners, or their managers, may have the sense that the business is lacking structure, it’s difficult to pinpoint the causes of friction from the inside. Or, they locate one cause and attempt to fix it, only to realize that several other issues prevent that solution from improving the overall situation. Trying to create structure from a random starting point quickly leads to overwhelm and the urge to continue living with the friction.

A business consultant relieves that friction by taking an objective look from the outside in. We identify all the missing or inefficient elements first. Then we talk about a plan that creates structure methodically so that the process is purposeful and manageable. Owners bring any chaos into order, and everyone in the company breathes a sigh of relief as they begin to see consistency and clarity in their day to day work experience.

Are you grinding your business against friction that you just can’t seem to remove? Your path to growth can be smooth, and it’s not as overwhelming as you’d expect! Join one of our Momentum Groups to discover improved structure on your own with the support of like-minded business peers, or take advantage of personalized support as a private client. Contact us to find the structure that builds frictionless Momentum.

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