While Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is an extremely accurate passer, according to Next Gen Stats, this year just over 11 percent of his intended receivers had a defender within a yard of them. (If you're wondering, that's the third-lowest percentage in the league.)
In a game of inches, a yard is an acre.
Why? Start with Travis Kelce, nominally a tight end but in reality the league's biggest slot receiver. Kelce is a matchup nightmare: too big for cornerbacks and safeties to cover, too fast for linebackers. Defenses either have to double-cover Kelce or hope he can't outsmart zone coverage.
Then there's Tyreek Hill, widely considered the NFL's fastest player. Respect the deep ball and give Hill room and he'll catch plenty of short passes and often gain considerable yards after the catch. Play him tight and he'll burn you deep.
Double-covering Hill leaves Kelce in single coverage. And vice versa.
And then there's Patrick Mahomes, arguably the league's best player. (And definitely the player you would pick first if you were starting a team today--if you could afford his $503 million contract.)
That's partly because Mahomes's athleticism allows him to scramble and buy time for receivers to get open. Partly because, when he does move outside the pocket, defenses have to account for whether he will throw or run.
And because Mahomes is smart enough to read the field, as Tony Romo says, like Magnus Carlsen can read a chess board.
(So yeah: Mahomes is not just good, he's once in a generation good.)
Put Mahomes, Hill, and Kelce together, toss in solid defense, decent special teams play, and a coach like Andy Reid, who creates schemes that play to their strengths while giving defenses pick-your-poison matchup fits, and what you do you get?
In business terms, a classic flywheel.
The Chiefs Flywheel
A flywheel is a heavy wheel that takes huge effort to push. But as it builds momentum, it gets a lot easier to push.
The principle extends to business. Brad Stone describes an early version of Amazon's flywheel in his book The Everything Store:
...Bezos and his lieutenants sketched their own virtuous cycle, which they believed powered their business. It went something like this: Lower prices led to more customer visits. More customers increased the volume of sales and attracted more commission-paying third-party sellers to the site. That allowed Amazon to get more out of fixed costs like the fulfillment centers and the servers needed to run the website.
This greater efficiency then enabled it to lower prices further. Feed any part of this flywheel, they reasoned, and it should accelerate the loop.
Today, the Amazon flywheel has more inputs. Like Amazon Prime. Alexa-powered devices. Amazon Logistics. But the premise remains the same.
And so does the key point: As Stone writes, feed any part of the flywheel.
Double-cover Kelce, and Hill--or another receiver--is more likely to be open. Double-cover Hill, and Kelce is more likely to be open. Manage to cover both, the Chiefs run game should open up--as well as running lanes for Mahomes.
In short, Hill's success makes Mahomes and Kelce more successful. As does Kelce's for Mahomes and Hill, and Mahomes's for Kelce and Hill.
Their individual success feeds the flywheel--and makes it easier for others to succeed as well.
If you only have one source of revenue, what happens when the momentum from that source inevitably stalls? The key is to add components to your business that will help sustain and build momentum--and, in turn, will be fed by that same momentum.
The key to building a lasting business is to build a flywheel that, when any part gets "fed," naturally accelerates the entire loop.
Here's an example that might not seem obvious. Imagine you're a plumber.
Service is obviously a huge part of your flywheel. Home renovations and new construction is another. Those two components can feed each other: Do a good job on a service call and the homeowner is more likely to call you to put in a new bathroom. Do a good job on new construction, and the homeowner is more likely to call you when their child tries to flush an action figure down the toilet.
But you could go further. A plumber we work with on rental property renovations leverages his relationship with suppliers to sell us fixtures and supplies for a lower price than we can otherwise get, even with our typical contractor's discount. While he only makes single-digit margins on similar sales, he further cements his business relationship with us and his suppliers, who then offer him even lower prices.
Which improves his margins on most of his other jobs, allowing him to increase profits and/or provide more competitive bids on new jobs.
He's also added two electricians to his workforce, allowing him to troubleshoot and solve more comprehensive service problems (well pumps, water treatment systems, mechanical drainage solutions, etc.) and make renovations and home improvement projects somewhat more turn-key.
Adding electricians provides more opportunities to serve new customers, to further build customer relationships...and turn his flywheel a little faster.
Also keep in mind you can create flywheels in your personal life. If you're trying to lose weight, cutting the calories you consume is important. So is exercise; as you exercise, you change your body's metabolism, which helps increase the benefits of a better diet. Exercising also boosts your mood, which makes it easier to stick to your diet, which makes it more likely you will lose weight...which can create the motivation to exercise a little more, which will help you more easily lose weight....
And that's the real key.
Mahomes is great. Mahomes plus Kelce is better. Mahomes and Kelce plus Hill is better still.
Add a meaningful spoke or two to your business or personal flywheels and the same can be true for you.