8 Steps to Achieving Critical Mass

Early last month my wife and I were enjoying our walk around the park just steps from our new home here in Brooklyn.

At one point we stopped and could not help but worry about the local geese, swans and various species of birds that were standing on the frozen pond covered in snow that was quite beautiful to us, but dangerous to them.

Dangerous because they were starving.

Soon after, a park volunteer came with a large bucket of food for them.

He then proceeded to throw large handfuls of the food to the birds. I asked him what he was feeding them.

To my surprise, he said, “dog food”. Really? Yes. Two reasons: 1) bread crumbs and crackers were not healthy for the birds, and 2) he was trying to build up their fat to prevent their freezing and starving.

Initially there were a few birds. This quickly changed to dozens then hundreds. Soon birds from all around the pond were flying towards him to eat.

Countless birds, everywhere.

Birds in Park #2This volunteer had inadvertently achieved what entrepreneurs dream would happen in their businesses: he achieved Critical Mass.


8 Steps to Critical Mass

  1. Define Your Why—If you haven’t already, watch this Simon Sinek Ted Talk video. It will change your world around the purpose of what you do in your business. It becomes the cornerstone in creating a business that will change lives, and your business!
  2. Revisit Your Vision—Once you are clear on why you do what you do, your vision is much easier to (re)create. Remember, visions are nothing about you, and everything about your stakeholders. They are also not designed to be achieved. Lastly, make sure it lights your fire and it is simple and easy to remember. Examples: Microsoft’s (used to be): “A computer on every desk in the world”, an acupuncturists: “Healing humanity”, Shift Group’s (my new company): “A sustainable planet, transformed by entrepreneurs.”
  3. Create the UnReasonable—a goal that is specific and measurable that excites the bejesus out of you! Something that is integrated with your Why and Vision statements, and you can leverage to grow your team and customers.
  4. Build Your Team—critical mass requires you have people way better than you at things crucial to your business. If you like working alone, you will need to address this issue. There are many ways to have even more alone time when you have a team. Remember: you are only as successful as the team you build around you!
  5. Identify Your CM—every business is different. You’ll need to address the necessary number of clients, blog posts a week, newsletter signups, speaking engagements a month, social media hits a day, and so on.
  6. Your Evangelicals—credible individuals or businesses that rave about you/your company. Identify them. List at least 3-4. Perhaps even a potential spokesperson. Don’t have them? Then identify the types they would be (i.e. their demographics).
  7. Nail the Story—authentically ramping up the perceived value from your target audience is crucial, with several moving parts:
    1. Solid Why / Vision that you can announce to the world, in one sentence
    2. What you are offering– what’s in it for them
    3. Who you are—your background, experience, your team
    4. Your brand—how you want the target market to see your business
    5. Supporting Documents—website, videos, blog posts, white papers, testimonials, and so on
  8. Hit ‘Em Up!— think 5X: whatever you think is the right number, multiply it by 5. You want 5 evangelicals, reach out to 25. Need 1,000 followers on Twitter, figure out how to get 5,000. Need to raise $100,000, go for $500,000:
    1. Prioritize your lists where “A” are the ones you want the most, and “D” would be nice but not crucial.
    2. Start with your D list. Make your mistakes, refine your story as you move up to the C’s and ultimately to the A’s.

NOTE 1: This Critical Mass strategy works well for things like:

  • Raising capital
  • Customer acquisitions
  • Team building
  • Speaking gigs
  • Dating
  • Home buying

NOTE 2: Once you get to critical mass, keep going. It is so much easier once you have that following you need to be noticed by your target audience.


Action Steps for the Week

Take inventory on your business: where can you really ramp up its performance? What is missing in that area?

Next, get clarity on your Why and UnReasonable goal. Be prepared to leverage these.

Now what resources do you need to make this happen? Team talent? Time? Ideas? Capital? Remember, leverage your Why and Vision to make this happen.

Design your strategy for getting to critical mass (steps 5 – 7).

Finally, implement (step 8).