What did Newton Know about Action in Small Business | Up and to the Right | Episode 054

Cover art for episode 053 of the Up and to the Right Podcast "What did Newton Know about Action in Small Business | Up and to the Right | Episode 054"
Cover art for episode 053 of the Up and to the Right Podcast "What did Newton Know about Action in Small Business | Up and to the Right | Episode 054"
Cover art for episode 053 of the Up and to the Right Podcast "What did Newton Know about Action in Small Business | Up and to the Right | Episode 054"

What did Newton Know about Action in Small Business | Newton's 3rd Law

I put a lot of effort into running and growing my business. I'm sure you do too!

What do we get for that effort? I'm not talking about. the long-term effects of our actions resulting in new revenue or market growth.

What reaction do we expect from this particular action?

Let’s get… mechanical!

You’ll find highlights below. Watch the livestream recording or listen to the podcast version on your favorite podcatcher for all the details!

Watch the Livestream Recording!

Listen to or Download the Audio Podcast

Using Common Frameworks to Simplify Small Business

Business is complicated. Or, more accurately, we MAKE business complicated.

By using familiar frameworks (like Newton’s Laws of Motion) we can get down to the core of a business principle and remove the complexity.

We’re still going to have the complexity of implementation but we’ll be starting from a more well-grounded place.

This allows us to make sure we guide the momentum of our resources in a direction that is most likely to achieve our intended impact.

Then we can complicate it with the business models, books, process methodologies, technology solutions, and whatever we find on Reddit.

Demonstrating Equal & Opposite in Physics

Newton's 3rd Law states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Imagine playing pool or that desk toy with five metal balls hanging on wires and you can imagine equal and opposite actions and reactions. These are common analogies because the physical characteristics of the materials allow them to transfer energy efficiently from one to the other. This makes them great examples of physics and we'll use them as the basis for our discussion.

What reaction are you looking for when you take action in business? Opposite?

Largely yes. We take action to:

  • increase sales... the opposite of lower sales.
  • reduce the momentum of a negative trend
  • increase the momentum of a slowing trend

So you get the idea. This ties directly back to Episode 51 when we talked about Newton's 1st Law and its relationship to business communication.

Business Isn't as Structured as Newtonian Physics

As small business owners, we definitely have to wrestle with the fact that few equations predict specific human behavior. Since each of us has a different set of experiences we all respond differently to the same set of circumstances. For business owners, this means that marketing in one way will appeal to a segment of the population but will not appeal to another.

This is why we pay attention to who our 'Tribe' is; who our ideal customer is. You can't please them all.

Adding to the uncertainty in business is the economic climate over which we have no control.

If that weren't enough chaos there is always the political and legal environment. We can vote as individuals but as small business owners the policies that are enacted to regulate or respond to the macroeconomy often prove how disconnected our political infrastructure really is from small business.

What do We Expect?

When we take an action as a small business owner we have a certain set of expectations regarding the outcome.

  • run an ad = new sales
  • buy a new machine = higher productivity
  • build an online store = traffic & revenue

How many times have those actions led to disappointment? Yeah, me too.

Let's talk about that.

Three Aspects of Newton's 3rd Law and Action in Small Business

In order to dig into this analogy a little more, we'll talk about three specific items.

  • Considered Action
  • Equal & Opposite
  • Willingness to Change

Considered Action

What I'm talking about here is the difference between action we've given thought to and action we take on mental autopilot. As small business owners and entrepreneurs, we are busy... very busy. In our haste to get the insurmountable pile of work 'done' we can fall into a pattern of taking action that we haven't given appropriate thought to.

I know it sounds a little crazy but when we find ourselves moving frenetically it's time to actually slow down. It sounds painful. I'll be honest... sometimes it is painful!

By slowing down our thoughts and actions we can connect them both with our intended outcome and authentic purpose.


  • take a walk
  • exercise
  • shoot film photography (hmmm... that one's oddly specific)
  • meditate
  • paint

Find something that renews your energy and is preferably unrelated to your work!

Equal & Opposite

You're probably thinking "I've never gotten an 'equal & opposite' reaction to anything I've done! I put in 80 hours a week and I'm barely scraping by." Your situation may not be exactly like that but I bet you've had an experience that makes you question the equal and opposite concept.

I spent a fair amount of time during the livestream talking about this so I'm going to focus on a summary here.

Because we spend our energy (action) in a global market it is often distributed or absorbed in areas that don't add value. For example, when we spend time posting on social media those posts may only appear on someone's feed for a few minutes making the return on our time difficult to quantify. This is true for many of our efforts. There are so many ways to spend our energy and an implicit notion that we should be using them all.

The key is to identify and take action that moves your small business toward your goals. As I mentioned earlier... sometimes that means slowing down and using your time to focus on the best action you can identify because you won't be able to do it all.

Willingness to Change

Sometimes we need to change our action in small business. Pivot.

How do you know when the lack of reaction your action is providing is part of 'The Dip' and you need to stay the course?

Data. Objective Data.

What about trusting your gut?

Yeah... I'm just going to say it like it is here.

"Look how trusting your gut works out for 87.5% of small businesses at the 15-year mark. Spoiler: poorly."

Don't get me wrong if you're a small business owner you have guts and lots of 'em! Just getting in the arena makes you an economic warrior! While guts will get you into the arena it's data and considered action that will keep you in the fight.

We stay the course when the data suggests that the course is the right one. Here's where that horizon gets foggy. We don't always have a lot of data, do we? The tragic irony of our time is that virtually the sum of human knowledge is on our phones but we can't access the right data to validate our business model. So yes, we have to balance our gut with the data we can find. What's important is that we seek out data and we don't fall into one of the traps of cognitive bias that prevent us from using it. For example 'confirmation bias' which our brains use to disproportionately value data that supports our current view and devalues data that doesn't (remember Blockbuster...?).

We need to find ways to increase our objectivity.


  • raw data
  • consultants/Coaches

No so Objective:

  • friends
  • family members
  • spouses & partners
  • reddit (sorry reddit)
  • books

Why do I list books? Because every author has their own set of experiences that led them to their own result. We can gain insight and learn from them but they are not objective.

Practical Action

Find something that helps you slow down.

Focus your energy on activities that narrow your possible outcomes closer to your goals.

Act on Fact. Pull your ego out of the equation.

Additional Resources

Don't just take my word for it...

Cognitive Bias: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/thoughts-thinking/201809/12-common-biases-affect-how-we-make-everyday-decisions

Newton's 3rd Law (the real one): https://www.livescience.com/46561-newton-third-law.html

Social Media Half-Life: https://www.copypress.com/blog/lifespan-social-media-content/

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