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@Scale – A Guide to Technology Due Diligence

Flywheel in Motion - Beyond M&A

It’s time to write another book – @Scale

It doesn’t matter about the size or maturity. Every business we meet as part of tech due diligence operates with risks that need addressing and missed opportunities. As a team, we see most, if not all of it, relates to scaling a business, and many of the lessons and requirements can be codified even if the solution is unique to the firm involved.

So to support our findings, I want to write my second book, this time writing something that is purely audience-centric and to the point—a book that doesn’t need reading; needs taking action. So I took inspiration from Moz Founder Rand Fishkin and decided to start our flywheel at Beyond M&A.

I am referring to a writing flywheel publishing daily to build up momentum and get the wheel spinning slowly. It takes time, though. Rand spent an initial two years writing every Sunday-Thursday to build up a library of information and share it with his audience. He gained far more than followers and readers. It forced him to read more and learn more about his subject and then articulate that back to his audience compellingly. And that’s a primary reason for my interest as this research/absorb, then producing an engaging narrative is at the core of our technology due diligence practice. Writing this blog allows me to exercise my writing muscles further and be of more value to my customers.

And there are two good sources to demonstrate the power of the flywheel in business; the first is from the academic and brilliant business author Jim Collins who explains the flywheel effect:

No matter how dramatic the end result, good-to-great transformations never happen in one fell swoop. In building a great company or social sector enterprise, there is no single defining action, no grand program, no one killer innovation, no solitary lucky break, no miracle moment. Rather, the process resembles relentlessly pushing a giant, heavy flywheel, turn upon turn, building momentum until a point of breakthrough, and beyond.

And the second is the phenomenally successful martech platform; Hubspot proclaims the (sales) funnel is dead and that its time to replace the funnel with the flywheel:

So how does the flywheel relate to @Scale?

@Scale is our fund-focused event where we speak to investors about technology trends related to their portfolio interests. Being fund-focused, it is private and quick to present. Developing an accompanying book seems valuable to capture information as we research different funds and markets.

Learning from writing my last book, I want to build something over more time and for it to be of more value to the reader. This means developing ideas and then reducing the copy, and as you know, writing less takes far more time. So I will slowly write this book – 400-500 words at a time and publish it as I go, which adds the dimension of being publicly available and needs to be better than a ‘vomit draft’.

So I see the flywheel working slowly and, in this case, writing something both high-quality and valuable. It means information and data need to be structured and easy to comprehend, and you can skip to the section that interests you. Notice how often I use the word ‘slow’ in this piece? If there’s one thing I’ve learnt, being slow in business has its merits. And I can thank Keith Cunnigham, the author of The Road Less Stupid, for teaching me that.

How will I start this flywheel?

You’re reading the first article. So it’s started. But just like my writing hero Rand, I believe in transparency, so I will write some of my guiding principles on how to present this is as follows:

  1. Post daily, each Sunday-Thurs.
  2. I want to write each post within 30 minutes. Research is not part of this timing.
  3. Each post will present a high-quality photo. Our previous blogs have been a potpourri of imagery, and it’s time to standardise to a brand-centric approach, not a founder’s approach. I inherited 25 Shutterstock credits, so I want to use those up.
  4. I won’t get the team to proofread. You’ll get pure, unadulterated Hutton instead.
  5. I won’t write whilst on vacation. Being present makes my kid happier than a present.

I will define the reader’s profiles and document the guidelines on what will be presented / how to show in the next post.  The SEO tools on my system tell me I should be writing blogs of ~900 words for our subject of choice. But I less is more and shorter reports are a key offering from our business.  So I will try shorter posts first.

That wasn’t so difficult, but I am curious – what flywheels have you seen most effectively used in business?

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Hutton Henry
Hutton Henry
Hutton's technology industry experience spans Enterprise (Ford, HP etc.) to start-up ventures. 25-years post-merger technology integration experience, and small consultancy founder since 2010. He is currently the founder of Beyond M&A, where he has the privilege of working with VC and PE investors, translating how tech operates in their future investments and identifying additional value creation improvements.

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