Matthew McConaughey in Interstellar.

Matthew McConaughey in Interstellar.

I haven’t seen the movie Interstellar yet, but I did listen to an interview with Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) about the blend of science and science fiction in the movie. Tyson is, according to Wikipedia, the Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space and is also a Research Associate in the Department of Astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History.

The interview contained observations that I believe are applicable to small business.

Spoiler alert: If you are one of those people that thinks any reference to the plot of the movie is a spoiler—maybe you should stop here.

Here is Tyson’s explanation of a wormhole from the interview: “a science fiction writer’s favorite way to get from one place to another [is a wormhole] because you get to bypass the speed limit imposed by the speed of light: 186,000 miles per second…A wormhole is a literal and a figurative shortcut through the fabric of space.” He goes on to explain that while math and science (the numbers, tip of the hat to Einstein) support the idea of wormholes, there are two major issues: we don’t know how to make one and if we did, it would likely collapse on us.

When I hear business owners talk about the growth of their business, they sometimes drift off into wormhole territory. The numbers may be all seem correct: X number of customer additions, Y revenue growth percentage, and Z amount of profits. Unfortunately, they don’t know how to build a company like this and if they tried, it would probably collapse on them. They believe that there are shortcuts (wormholes) that will take them from where they are today to the far reaches of success. Worse, I hear and read sales pitches to these business owners from “experts” that proclaim they have the latest and greatest shiny object (more wormholes) that are guaranteed to create a cult following on social media, make the owners millions of dollars, and get their business circling in the gravitational pull of one of the biggest planets, like Google and Facebook. All they have to do is believe in the science and write the check.

Here’s the real spoiler: there are no wormholes in business. You can’t bend the space-time continuum and step into a time warp tunnel that will lead you to success. It takes thought and effort to build a successful business. When you take an idea and build a solid plan and strategy to grow it, you are doing the thinking that is necessary for a successful business. When you execute the plan and measure, correct, and revise it as necessary, you are putting in the effort that is required for a successful business.

Obviously, I’ve simplified this success theory formula to emphasize my point: business wormholes don’t exist. Good plans that are well executed will get you further than wishing on a star.

You can hear the interview here:

Do you have an example of a wormhole you’ve heard someone talk about? A get-rich-quick scheme that you know will collapse all around you? I’d enjoy hearing about it, leave a reply below.

photo credit: Melinda Sue Gordon/Paramount Pictures

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