Accelerating Business Growth: The Power of The Flywheel Effect

Written by Joe Wanninger / February 16, 2024 / 13 Minute Read
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Ever feel like your business growth is stuck? Unlock the power of the Flywheel Effect – the principle that small, consistent actions build unstoppable momentum in your business.


A Practical Introduction To Transformational Growth

Ever wondered how a heavy flywheel starts turning?

At first, It demands a significant amount of effort and energy but, once it begins to spin, the momentum keeps it going. The faster it rotates on its axis, the more power it generates, transforming the initial potential energy into a force that drives its continuous motion. 

This same concept also applies to business growth. In the grand machinery of a company, each unit – be it marketing, sales, operations, or finance – plays an essential role in pushing the flywheel, propelling the business toward its objectives.

In “Here We Grow: The Marketing Formula to 10x Your Business and Transform Your Future,Marcia Barnes introduces how she’s used the Flywheel Effect to achieve transformational results throughout her career.

At Valve+Meter Performance Marketing, we view a business as an interconnected system rather than a collection of separate units. The Flywheel Effect comes alive with practical wisdom and real-life examples every day in the companies we partner with and in the relationships we build along the way.

In this article, we’ll share a valuable lesson for us all: When each part of your business does its bit and collaborates effectively with the rest, a remarkable momentum is created, and the flywheel of business growth truly begins to spin.

Here We Grow

Marcia Barnes offers other visionaries and entrepreneurs relatable insights into business leadership, marketing, family, and faith. You can order the book through Amazon or contact our team for a free copy.

Request Here We Grow From Our Team

Understanding the Flywheel Effect

Imagine a large, heavy flywheel – a massive disk mounted on an axle, as you might see in an old steam engine. 

When you first try to push it, the weight of the flywheel resists your efforts. It’s not going to be easy to get it moving. 

But you push anyway, putting in the energy and effort required. It moves an inch, then another inch, and slowly but surely, it begins to turn.

This is the initial phase of the Flywheel Effect, a concept wonderfully introduced by business author Jim Collins in his book Good to Great. He used the flywheel analogy to explain building momentum within a business.

As you add outside energy to the flywheel, it moves faster, and each revolution gets a bit easier. The task is still challenging but more manageable than at the start. This is because the energy you’ve already expended is not lost; instead, it’s stored in the flywheel as mechanical energy. This energy now contributes to the flywheel’s motion. 

You’re not just pushing against inertia now; you’re also pushing with the flywheel’s stored energy.

And then, there’s a magical moment. After considerable pushing, the flywheel picks up speed. It starts to turn on its momentum almost effortlessly. Instead of constantly fueling the flywheel; the mechanical energy takes over and the flywheel runs smooth. Even when there are intervals where you are not driving it, the energy you put in propels the flywheel onward. This flywheel is in full motion and is a sight to behold.

This same concept applies to the world of business. Each action, decision, and effort contributes to the business’s momentum, akin to pushing a giant flywheel. Initial progress might be slow and require a lot of energy, but it’s an essential part of the process. Over time, these efforts accumulate and store energy. With enough focus, determination, and operational excellence, much like a spinning flywheel, your business runs smoothly gaining momentum and achieving your vision of greatness.

The Flywheel Effect is about Continual Progress, not Sudden Success

Now, how exactly does this relate to the different areas of a business? 

Just like it takes a series of consistent, focused pushes to get the flywheel moving, a business requires constant effort across all departments to create momentum. As each department functions effectively and collaboratively, the business, much like the flywheel, starts generating momentum.

flywheel method with corrected data-driven marketing

And just like the flywheel, it can be a powerful force once a business gains momentum. It can help a company grow, innovate, and navigate through challenges. 

Maintaining that momentum requires a continuous, consistent effort from every part of the business. After all, a flywheel can only keep spinning as long as energy is put into it. 

While marketing can deliver a power stroke of leads, sales, operations, and finance must work seamlessly and contribute in their way for the flywheel to run smoothly. 

So that’s the gist of the Flywheel Effect. It’s about more than just hard work or even intelligent work. And it’s never about fixing one thing in your business.

It’s about consistent, collaborative work that builds upon itself over time, propelling the business forward. That’s how companies can turn the flywheel and create sustained transformational growth.

Marketing: The First Push to the Flywheel

Let’s look at the first push on our business flywheel: marketing. 

The traditional approach to marketing budgets has been to tie them directly to revenues. But this method, while all too typical, only partially reflects the potential power of marketing.

Instead, consider this alternative approach: don’t talk about marketing budgets. You should have an unlimited appetite for marketing that works.

Spend your time instead looking at your cost per acquisition. Ask yourself: Does the discrete cost to acquire one incremental new customer make sense to my business?

Why is this so important? When you focus on the cost per acquisition, you shift your perspective. You’re not just spending money on marketing; you’re investing in attracting new customers. And this investment, when done correctly, leads directly to revenue.

Think of it this way: every dollar you spend on marketing should be a dollar invested in growing your business. The goal is not just to spend money but to spend it wisely, ensuring that you gain more than you spend. In this sense, marketing ceases to be a cost center and becomes a revenue generator. It’s a powerful transformation that can fuel the flywheel of your business growth.

Flywheel Marketing Worksheet 

Use this worksheet to look at the flywheel within your business.

Here We Grow Flywheel Worksheet

Measuring the Success of Marketing

How exactly do we measure the effectiveness of our marketing tactics and strategies? That’s where the concept of Return on Marketing Spend (ROMS) comes into play. We can evaluate how well our marketing efforts translate into actual revenue by calculating the ROMS.

It’s like having a GPS for your marketing journey. You’re not just driving around, hoping to reach your destination. With ROMS as your guide, you can see if your marketing strategies are leading you toward your goals or if you need to adjust your course.

And here’s where it gets even more interesting. When the money you spend on marketing leads directly to producing revenue, you’re not just running your business but accelerating it. You’re pushing that flywheel, and with every successful marketing campaign, you’re adding more momentum.

Ultimately, it’s more than how much money you spend on marketing. It’s about how effectively that money is used to generate more revenue for your business. 

When you adopt this mindset, you’re not just investing in marketing. You’re investing in the growth and success of your entire business. You’re pushing that flywheel and driving your business forward with each push.

Remember, the key is consistency. Consistent and effective marketing efforts can generate steady leads for your sales team, giving them the ammunition they need to attract new customers. And that’s where the next push to the flywheel comes in. 

But we’ll get into that a little later. For now, let’s celebrate the power of marketing and its significant role in setting the wheels of business growth in motion.

Sales, Operations, and Finance: The Momentum Keepers

Now that we’ve given the flywheel its initial push with effective marketing let’s look into the departments that keep it spinning: sales, operations, and finance.


Once marketing has done its job and generated leads, the baton is handed to the sales team. It’s their responsibility to transform those leads into confirmed orders.

Your sales team’s efforts directly impact the speed of your flywheel. The more successful they are at closing deals, the faster the flywheel spins.

It’s not just about speed, though; it’s about momentum. Remember, in our flywheel, the momentum comes from the energy stored during the initial push and each subsequent push. Similarly, the persistent efforts of the sales team contribute in intervals to maintaining and even increasing this momentum.


Next up in our flywheel mechanism is your operations team. They are the ones who execute the orders and ensure that everything runs smoothly. If the operations team falters, the entire cycle can be disrupted. Efficient operations mean happy customers and completed orders, which keeps our flywheel spinning.

So, we have marketing generating leads, sales converting those leads into orders, and operations ensuring the successful execution of these orders. But there’s one more critical department in our flywheel system: finance.


In the context of our flywheel, finance acts as the profitability steward. They’re the ones who ensure the bills get paid, and profits are spun off. More importantly, they’re responsible for allocating more money for marketing, providing the funds required for each additional flywheel spin. This money keeps the momentum going.

A diagram showing the process of a factory, featured on the homepage.

In essence, finance determines the perfect size and speed of the flywheel. When a flywheel is too small there’s friction in the system, but an oversized flywheel and weight and inertia slow down momentum. Finance’s role in maintaining fiscal balance, prioritizing spending, and ensuring sustainable reinvestment strategies is crucial for the continuous motion of the flywheel.


Businesses can create a flywheel effect by ensuring each department – marketing, sales, operations, and finance – functions effectively and collaborates. As each component does its part, the business gains momentum, spins faster, and moves closer to its goals.

So, the next time you look at your company’s departments, remember they’re all parts of an excellent flywheel mechanism, each crucial in propelling the business forward.

Addressing Friction in the Cycle

As we’ve seen, every unit within a business plays an integral part in maintaining the flywheel’s momentum, contributing to the company’s growth. However, even with all these departments working harmoniously, there can still be bumps along the way. 

Recognizing and addressing these challenges promptly is essential to prevent them from slowing down our flywheel.

Let’s take an example. Suppose the marketing team has executed some stellar campaigns and generated a large number of leads. But, the sales team isn’t closing deals at the expected rate, or the revenue per deal isn’t as high as anticipated. This mismatch can increase the cost per acquisition, thereby impacting the Return on Marketing Spend. In such a scenario, the business must understand the issue’s root, whether it’s an internal shortcoming in sales strategies or external market conditions, and take corrective action.

Another instance could be a breakdown in operations. Perhaps the customer service team cannot efficiently handle calls, or there are issues with order fulfillment. The company may receive negative reviews online, and the response isn’t timely or adequate. While seemingly separate from marketing or sales, these operational issues can cause friction in the flywheel motion. It’s crucial to remember that in a flywheel system, all components are interconnected; a snag in one area can influence the entire mechanism.

Addressing these friction points requires understanding that every person in every functional area is accountable for their role in generating revenues. It’s not about pointing fingers or assigning blame. It’s about identifying the issue, understanding its impact, and working collaboratively to find a solution.

When performance issues arise, looking at the usual suspects, like marketing budgets or sales figures, is easy. Actual transformational growth is achieved when the organization is held accountable. Each part of the business must recognize its role and responsibility in pushing the flywheel. 

And when every person and department works together, the flywheel spins smoothly, driving the business forward with incredible momentum.

Remember, in a flywheel, every push matters. Every bit of energy contributes to the momentum. So, every task done, every problem solved, and every goal achieved in your business adds to that momentum, ensuring the flywheel keeps spinning smoothly, powering your business towards sustained growth.

Creating Transformational Growth

In our exploration of the Flywheel Effect in business, we’ve identified how each department’s efforts contribute to the overall momentum. We’ve recognized the importance of accountability across all departments and how addressing potential issues can keep our flywheel spinning smoothly. 

Let’s focus on the result of all these combined efforts: transformational growth.

So, what exactly is transformational growth? It’s not merely about expanding your business or increasing your profits. Those are undoubtedly part of it, but transformational growth is more profound. It’s about fundamentally changing the way your business operates and evolves. It’s about breaking away from linear progress and embracing exponential advancement. 

It’s about transforming your business from good to great.

This kind of growth doesn’t happen overnight

Remember our beginning flywheel? It took considerable effort and energy to start spinning, but it gathered speed and momentum once it did.

Likewise, transformational growth is about continuous, collaborative effort across all departments over time, resulting in a significant shift in your business’s trajectory.

It’s about marketing departments finding programs that strike the proper return on marketing spending, creating a surge in high-quality leads. It’s about the sales team capitalizing on these leads, closing deals, and generating orders. It’s about operations executing these orders efficiently, leading to satisfied customers and completed work. It’s about finance, ensuring the profits are spun off correctly, bills are paid, and investments are made back into marketing to continue the cycle.

This holistic approach to business growth, where everyone is accountable for their role, creates a highly efficient and effective cycle. It sets in motion a flywheel that keeps spinning faster and with the same energy input, leading to greater returns.

It’s not a theory; it’s a strategy proven to work. The flywheel effect has driven companies from modest beginnings to extraordinary successes. It’s about understanding the interconnectedness of all parts of a business and leveraging that to create sustainable, transformational growth.

With every department playing its part, your business flywheel can gather incredible momentum, driving you toward your goals faster than you ever thought possible. And that, at its heart, is the magic of the Flywheel Effect.

Key Takeaways and Implementing the Flywheel Effect

Having leaned into the complexities and dynamics of the Flywheel Effect, let’s highlight some key takeaways and how they can help us implement this powerful principle in your business.

  • Shift your Perspective on Marketing: Viewing marketing not just as a cost but as a crucial investment that generates revenue is the first step. It’s essential to focus on the cost per acquisition and the return on marketing spend (ROMS) to measure the effectiveness of marketing strategies.
  • Recognize Your Departments Are Interconnected: Each department – marketing, sales, operations, and finance – plays a critical role in the business flywheel. They’re interconnected, and their combined efforts fuel the momentum of the business.
  • Preach Responsibility and Accountability: Each department should hold itself accountable for its part in revenue generation. This shared responsibility prevents blame games and leads to efficient problem-solving, maintaining the flywheel’s momentum.
  • Address the Friction: There will be intervals of power and loss of power from nearly every part of your business. Recognizing and swiftly addressing issues in any part of the business cycle is crucial. Quick and effective solutions can prevent the flywheel from slowing down, whether it’s an issue with sales conversion rates, operational efficiency, or customer satisfaction.
  • Aim for Transformational Growth: The ultimate goal of the Flywheel Effect is to achieve transformational growth. It’s not about short-term gains but about fundamentally changing the trajectory of your business toward exponential growth.

Implementing the Flywheel Effect in your business means understanding and embracing these principles. It’s about everyone in the organization realizing their role in the overall business mechanism and working together to keep the flywheel spinning.

It’s about looking at your business not as separate units working in silos but as interconnected components of a powerful flywheel. It’s about ensuring each push and effort adds to the momentum, driving your business toward success.

The Flywheel Effect is more than a business theory; it’s a philosophy, a mindset. It’s about creating a culture of shared responsibility, continuous improvement, and an unwavering focus on growth. When implemented effectively, it can transform your business and set it on the path to sustained success.

It takes effort, time, and dedication, but once your business flywheel starts spinning, there’s no stopping it. 

So, are you ready to start pushing your flywheel?

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