How Small Businesses Use the Aggregation of Marginal Gains to Grow

Daily incremental improvements will have a profound effect on small business growth.



The famous basketball coach John Wooden once said “It’s the little details that are vital.  Little things make big things happen.”  A business owner can learn a great deal from both the nature of sports and in some cases certain coaches that have attained great success in their respective fields.  The ideals and triumphs that are brought forth in sports are some of the most valuable intangibles that a business owner can possess. 

What is the aggregation of marginal gains? 

David Brailsford, the performance director of Great Britain‘s pro cycling team-Team Sky-transformed John Wooden’s ideology to whole other level in his performance system where he focused on the “aggregation of marginal gains”. 

His system requires an individual to focus on a “1% improvement” in everything that they do on a daily basis. As a result of instilling this mentality upon the cyclers on his team, Team Sky won the Tour de France in three years (an accolade in which he expected to achieve in 5 years) from the day he was hired as performance director.

As a business owner there are many aspects of a company in which require improvements and daily focus, such as: sales & marketing, operations, and finance.  However, the hard reality in trying to improve every aspect of a business is that it takes time, and there is usually no quick fix. These drive business growth.

As a best practice business owners should focus on the little things that they can have a direct impact on each and every day, thereby emulating Coach Brailsford’s “aggregation of marginal gains”.

Sales are at the forefront

Sales and revenue are at the forefront of every business, however, business owners sometimes neglect to take the time and focus to improve upon this area, especially the micro aspects. 

For professional services businesses that live and die off their ability to attain and retain clientele, business owners should set small goals such as attaining a new client each week, or making at least one new contact a day, etc… 

Even remembering to always have a set of business cards on self at all times, or remembering to aggregate all business contacts information in an easily accessible and centralized area, can serve as vital 1% or marginal gains that in the long run will reduce stress and improve the business’s ability to maximize sales

Operations serve as another pillar

Operations serve as another pillar of any business and there are countless areas that business owners can look to improve on.  However, to stay within the scope of this article a good practice is to have employees embrace the concept of marginal gains. 

Employees should understand the micro aspects of their performance as well as role in the company and in turn devise a strategy to build upon those areas in which they can have a direct impact on a daily basis. 

For example: 

Employees that are prone to distraction might benefit from practicing limiting their phone time to their lunch breaks or at the days end. 

Another great example is organization; employees should look to eliminate any disorganization that may present itself.  Some good practices include maintaining an organized desk or work station, ensuring that filing systems and database’s are accurate and up to date, creating specific folders or files to store pertinent information throughout the day, or discarding old files and papers that have been deemed obsolete. 

By focusing on the small things and consistently implementing these practices employees and business owners will be able to build upon these marginal gains continually better themselves and their business.

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Alex Hart
Alex Hart
Alexander J. Hart of Cuban American decent is principal and founder of Hart Vida Partrners. With over 25 years of experience, Alex specializes in the areas of tax strategy and planning, business process improvement, and capital consulting. Whether advising on capital and financing strategy or consulting for privately-held professional services firms, Alex has the expertise and practical know-how to help any company optimize their business processes and make tactical financial decisions. He began his career at IBM in sales operations and accounting. He was a Controller for the N.Y. Post, has been a CFO for a medical device company, and has written a tax column called “Ask the Tax Guys” for Micro-Cap Review. Alex is a professional member of A.L.T.A. (Affiliated Lawyers of the Americas), a member of the National Association of Tax Preparers, and is a contributing author and mentor at Latin Business Today. Alex graduated from St. John’s University with a B.A. in Spanish and his M.B.A. in Finance. He obtained his accounting degree from Pace University.

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