What is a Quantum Leap?
It is a sudden (almost magical) scaling observed in sub atomic levels where electrons jump to the next orbit around the nucleus, on being prompted by an external energy. As a comparison, it is like Earth moving to Mars’ orbit in a microsecond without going through the 250 million kilometers in between.
Scientists have been fascinated by the parallels in quantum world and the visible world, where many of the traditional scientific theories are being put to test given the findings on duality, entanglement, observer effect and others. It’s a fascinating field and for the uninitiated, I do recommend many YouTube videos for beginners on the topic.
Quantum Leap in business?
This happens when some businesses magically seem to scale beyond belief defying traditional theories of management. I first experienced this in 1997 when a small course correction in a two person travel agency, sky rocketed the revenue in a matter of weeks. More recently, I was at Happies, a tiny budget restaurant in Berlin, with 12 chairs, limited menu choices and a very passionate owner! What is surprising is that Happies is at the Top 3 of TripAdvisor ratings, beating 7000+ bigger restaurants in Berlin, a feat they reached within a few months of their opening and staying there for over 4 years now.
There has been countless other examples of Quantum Leaps we have seen over the past 20+ years. In fact, four of the top six most valuable companies in the world today were formed during this period having experienced a few Quantum Leaps in their path to the top – Amazon (1994), Alphabet (1998), Facebook (2004), Alibaba (1999) with older Apple (1976) and Microsoft (1975) rounding up the chart.
Can it happen in any business?
No! While technology boom has significantly helped these four in their Quantum Leaps, my inference is that there are other fundamental aspects required for a business to experience a Quantum Leap such as:
- learning mindset
- and an external prompter.
With a strong leader at the helm, the first four fundamentals can be built as a culture within the business, while the prompter is external such as technology trends, market trends, geopolitics, mentors, or cutting edge research. Given that bureaucraZy in big businesses normally chokes the fundamentals, especially focus and agility, Quantum Leaps almost exclusively happen in the realms of small and medium sized businesses.
Why are quantum leaps rare?
99% of the businesses in the world are small and medium businesses where the fundamentals of Quantum Leap exists, however instead of successful leaps, we find incredibly high failure rates! In fact, more than 60% of new business go bankrupt within the first five years and up to 80% cease to exist beyond the first decade. While passion is typically high during the start up period, failure to learn business fundamentals (cash flow, market research, team leadership) and dilution of focus are typically the reasons small businesses fail. In the last decade, there has been a healthy trend of mentors and venture capitalists willing to support start ups though they require aggressive short term success targets. This brings a lot of pressure on the businesses, which in turn can result in lack of focus.
Can we Quantum Leap the ‘Quantum Leaps’?
Only one person seems to have had a major success here. Jack Ma virtually said ‘open sesame’ to a world of opportunities for small and medium businesses with Alibaba, enabling them with internet as a platform to do business. This prompter helped over thousands of Chinese small businesses to scale beyond the million dollar mark and can qualify Jack Ma as one of the most successful wealth creators in the planet.
Amazon’s FBA business, Facebook’s market place and Google AdWords are all giving additional momentum to small and medium businesses, albeit at a softer pace. Higher education institutions such as Stanford, LBS, U Pen, MIT are investing a lot of their brain power in researching this field for helping smaller businesses to gain momentum.
Can we help?
One area where things can change quite drastically, is for those of us having significant business/corporate expertise to start coaching and mentoring small business we interact with. Maybe one of your friendly neighborhood trader can learn something radically new from the story of your business trip to another corner of the world, or if you see something odd in a transaction with a small business, feel free to give them some recommendation on better way of doing things.
In fact, career corporate leaders like you and me, have learned so much from our successes and failures in the business world that we can coach many smaller business with our stories and experience. Keep an eye out for business owners in your world who show passion, focus, learning mindset and agility, maybe you will be the prompter that drives a few Quantum Leaps. So go ahead, Awaken the Jack Ma within you!
If you would like to experiment more on this topic, feel free to reach out for exchanging ideas or sharing experiences.