In Chennai, the Entrepreneurial eco-system is small. Certainly, it is smaller than the “Entrepreneurship in the air” attitude of Bangalore.
But every time I organise a StartUp Saturday (www.headstart.in) in Chennai, I come across numerous success stories against all odds and doe-eyed optimists presenting their StartUps to critical and prodding eyes. Each of those times, I organise an event, I am but astonished by this statement of Jim Collins, for its accuracy and the precision of its truth.
Sam Walton began with a single dime store in 1945 and did not open his second store for seven years. Seven years! Twenty-five years later, Wal-Mart had only 38 stores. Today, Wal-Mart has about 4,000 stores, building up to that number through a process that has been slow and steady. Albert Einstein once quipped that the greatest mathematical discovery of all time is compound interest. That is the Wal-Mart story. Walton began with $72,000 in annual revenue, grew it at 29% per year for three decades, and then accelerated from there. In recent years, the company has settled into 16% per year average growth — but off a much, much larger base. That kind of cumulative growth achieved over seven decades turns a $72,000 dime store into a $1 trillion corporation.
You achieve greatness, it turns out, in much the same way that you turn a giant, heavy flywheel: It takes a huge amount of effort to get the thing moving from one turn to two, from two to four, from four to eight. But if you keep pushing in a consistent direction, you’ll eventually hit a hundred, then a thousand, then a million RPMs. When you combine a consistent direction with substantial speed, you achieve something greater than either of those elements alone: momentum.
Greatness is cumulative indeed.