Somewhere (perhaps in your garden) a butterfly flaps its wings to take off. The effect is so small you don’t even notice it — but that’s not the end of the story. Weeks into the future, perhaps thousands of miles away, that slight disruption of the air can make the difference between whether or not a tornado forms.
The Butterfly Effect was first proposed in the 1960s by meteorologist Edward Lorenz, but an analogous idea had previously been used by science fiction author Ray Bradbury in his short story A Sound of Thunder. Here, a time traveller who accidentally steps on a butterfly in the Jurassic age returns to find his own time radically changed.
So what, you might ask, does this have to do with your business?
How Many People Has Your Business Touched?
If you sell consumer products, it’s simple enough. As long as your products are good, you’ll have made many of your customers that bit happier, or made some area of their lives easier. Of course, if your products aren’t good, you may also have affected them — but let’s not go there.
What about a business like mine, though, that sells services to other businesses? Well, hopefully I’ve also had a similar effect on my clients, but it can go further. That’s because the content I’ve written for clients helps them find more customers to deliver their services to — and each benefit those customers get is slightly down to me.
Perhaps I’m part of the reason someone’s been successful in their insurance claim. Or got their roof mended before it collapsed. Or got support to lose weight. Or… it goes on.
It Doesn’t End There
In business, as in every other aspect of life, the Butterfly Effect fans further and further out. Maybe those consumers made happier will treat other people a little more positively as a result. Maybe they’ll achieve more in their fields.
Similarly, the businesses I’ve helped to have a little more success might be able to use that success to have a wide range of impacts. Or, if their clients are businesses themselves, they’ll be in a better position to improve other people’s lives.
There’s no natural end to this process. As George Bailey found at the end of It’s a Wonderful Life, one person’s actions can transform the world.
Using Your Greatest Asset
It’s great to have a positive effect on people, but how can you harness that as a benefit to your business, too?
The most obvious way is to ask for testimonials from your clients — if possible, noting any knock-on effect on their customers, to make the most of your full reach. To be honest, I haven’t been very good at doing this, but I’m improving.
Case studies provide another approach, again going beyond the obvious benefits you’ve given your own customers. How have your services enabled them to offer a better service?
The Butterfly Effect doesn’t end, but there’s a limit to how far you can usefully follow it. Maybe what you do now will influence someone a hundred years in the future, but just concentrating on the here and now is plenty. Get in touch with me to see how I can help you make the most of your effect on the world.