Trade shows: It seems we have all attended them or helped organize one or two. Intentionally or not, over the years, I have used them and other such events to launch new businesses and products. As I look at them through the entrepreneur lens, I see that they are more than just marketing exercises. They are forcing functions* that can drive overall company growth.


As an entrepreneur, you should recognize and embrace the power of these forcing functions. Don’t just let them happen or go to waste. In fact, seek them out. Use them to manage the growth of your business and propel it forward.

Think about how people in your company act day in and day out. There is a routine. Everyone thinks they work hard. They are smart and they put in long workdays.  Then reflect on how everyone responds when there is a hard stop, when the company needs to present and demo its latest, greatest product at a major trade show or deliver it to that first customer.

Bang! Things get moving. Everyone moves from running fast to running faster than full speed. Of the millions of things that need to be done, notice how quickly they are narrowed down to a select few. And of these, notice how quickly you and your team zero in on and act on those that really matter. This is the value of a forcing function.  It focuses you and more importantly your whole company on what matters. In addition, it is supported with intense action.

Forcing functions are catalysts for getting things done.

As an entrepreneur, these intense bursts of activity associated with a forcing function are valuable. Plan them. Control them. Moreover, manage them to rally your team and to focus them on what needs to be accomplished as well as to carry out the seemly impossible. Use them to get your team moving faster than full speed. Use them to generate a growth spurt for your business.

There are many types of forcing functions. Good growth forcing functions are ones that break a company out of its well-worn routines and engage it around key growth initiatives or help reshape it completely.

Hence, look for forcing functions that

  • Focus you and your team on key results or initiatives
  • Push your team out of their well-worn routines
  • Stretch them
  • Gets you out into the market and produces a market event

* A forcing function is any task, activity or event that forces you to take action and produce a result.