“New market opportunities are popping up all around us. Yet, thanks to our tunnel vision, we can’t see them. Many call it being focused. I call it gravity. Gravity is created when we hang onto our knowns, our status quo beliefs about our business, our value and our markets, long past their prime. As our markets change, we get stuck in their past—creating gravity that limits our forward momentum.”

So asserts Rebel Brown, a business strategy, launch & turnaround expert in her brilliant new book, Defy Gravity.

Rebel compares business success with flying, identifying the four major conflicting forces of flight—lift, thrust, weight and drag—and defining their business equivalents:
Business Drag: The mistaken ideas we hold about our products, employees and practices
Market Weight: The inaccurate things we believe about the markets we serve
Business Thrust: Our value and differentiation
Market Lift: New opportunities for revenue, profits and growth

If you want your business to succeed, you need to increase your lift and thrust, while reducing your weight and drag. The problems is that most businesses either don’t have a plan to deal with all four elements, or if they do, the plan is more of a hindrance than a help. Why? Because today’s frenetic pace of change renders even the best-conceived plans obsolete quickly.

To prevent failure, Rebel argues we need to change our plans as conditions change.

“We wouldn’t fly a plane straight into a thunderstorm because the flight plan said we should. We’d change our course. If the tailwinds were better a bit higher and twelve miles to the south, we’d adjust our heading and climb to find them. So why do we stick to our behind-the-times plans and focus, especially when dynamic changes would give us a much better chance for success?”

The answer to this question comprises the first seven chapters of the book, in which Rebel details causes and examples of business drag and market weight in chapters such as It’s Our Best and Biggest Seller, But It’s a Huge Opportunity!, Our Key Employees Are the Reason We’re Here, and But the Other Guys Have It!

Rebel explodes many of the most common business myths and misconceptions (what she terms “Corporate Legends”) that hold companies back, often dooming them to failure. She encourages us to question everything: our beliefs, our approaches, our logic, our data, even our past successes.

“Recognizing that what we knew yesterday probably doesn’t apply today is critical to reaching sustainable growth. We can’t approach strategic planning with our knowns and be successful. We have to test everything we know in the winds of the marketplace.”

The second half of the book explores how you can increase your thrust and lift by improving your value and seizing the appropriate market opportunities.

“When our value is compelling, we take off and climb higher. When we listen to how our customers perceive our value and focus on evolving that value in line with their needs (and those of our prospects), we create continuous business thrust.

Lift can be found in current or new markets. A key to maintaining or increasing our business velocity is to proactively seek out new lift— adjusting our course to soar higher and higher thanks to the  updraft of expanding markets.”

To help you improve your lift and thrust, Rebel covers:
• How to identify what your company’s true value is
• The critical difference between “Big Bang” change and evolutionary change
• How to effectively evaluate and prioritize opportunities
• When to get in and when to get out of a market
• How to monitor and manage your growth
• And much more.

Accompanying Rebel’s insights are numerous stories and case studies, many written with an insider’s knowledge, because she was called in to launch a new company or to save a floundering one. The result is an entertaining, eye-opening read, packed with practical advice for growing your business.

Defy Gravity is not just one of the best business books I’ve read this year—it’s one of the best business books I’ve ever read. It serves as a much-needed slap in the face for both corporate executives and small business owners alike. You’re likely to squirm while reading it. Yet it’s also a valuable blueprint for business success. Or as Rebel calls it, a flight plan.