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Forming Good Habits Will Get You More Customers
28 January 2014 | By Catherine Wheatcroft

This article looks at how every business owner can use the approach that Dave Brailsford used to win the Tour De France, to make their business even more of a success. Even if you are not particularly interested in cycling, it will give you some invaluable insight into how you can put small things into place, do them regularly and get more customers as a result. You don’t even have to find an 8th day in the week to do it!

In 2010, Dave Brailsford faced a tough job. No British cyclist had ever won the Tour de France, but as the new Performance Director for Team Sky, that's what Brailsford was asked to do. His approach was simple.

Brailsford believed in a concept that he referred to as the ‘aggregation of marginal gains.’ His belief was that if you improved every area related to cycling by just 1%, then those small gains would add up to remarkable improvement.
For Brailsford, this meant optimising everything - the nutrition of riders, their weekly training program, the ergonomics of the bike seat, and the weight of the tires.

But Brailsford and his team didn't stop there. They searched for 1% improvements in tiny areas that were overlooked by almost everyone else. They looked at the pillow that offered the best sleep to take it with them to hotels, testing for the most effective type of massage gel, and teaching riders the best way to wash their hands to avoid infection. They searched for 1% improvements everywhere.
Brailsford believed that if they could successfully execute this strategy, then Team Sky would be in a position to win the Tour de France in five years time.

He was wrong. They won it in three years.

So what can we learn from Brailsford’s approach to benefit our own business?

Forming marginal gains habits
Every habit that you have, whether a good or bad habit – is the result of many small decisions you have made over time. But when we want to make a change to what we do or form a better habit, we forget this.

We convince ourselves that change is only good or has been of benefit if there is some large, visible outcome. In business this is truer and we put huge amounts of pressure on ourselves to make some sort of huge improvement that will have everyone talking. We change our website and expect prospects to click with it and start ringing us, when they didn’t before. Or we send out a mass mailing and expect to be inundated by enquiries.

And so, if you are told to just concentrate on improving by just 1%, you might think this is a waste of time, nothing noticeable will come of that and that won’t increase the number of customers I am getting.

Lets be clear about this, starting off a habit of improving what you are doing by 1% will not impact you today. But as time goes on, these small improvements build and you suddenly find a big gap between what you are doing and those of the people around you. And this gap is a journey that has taken you nearer to your goal than the next person, who is still procrastinating about how to change things for the better!

So as a business owner, you may want to send out an amazing offer to every business in the Midlands, but deciding how to word it so it caters for different industries is difficult, you don’t have all the contact details so will have to get those, which takes time and then you need to make sure the message is spot on. In all likelihood, it will never happen and 6 months on you will still have it on your list of things to do.

But here’s the thing, if you form a habit of sending out 3 letters to specific companies each day, every day…how easy and manageable is that? That is just 3 addresses and contacts to find and one letter to write to a targeted audience. And if you repeat this ‘habit’ every day, you will have sent out 60 letters by the end of the month. That is a whole lot more marginal gain than sending out none!

Whilst you probably won’t find yourself in the Tour de France in the coming months, the concept of creating marginal gains can be useful to you in business. Mastering your habits is more important than achieving a certain outcome, because with habits, comes success. Focus on the process and not the outcome and you will see the benefits!

Where could the 1% improvements be made in your business and what impact will they have on generating more enquiries or appointments?

  • Writing to just 3 prospects consistently every day
  • Picking up the phone to tell just 5 people you exist every day
  • Making just one page of your website clearer and easier to read
  • Writing one useful article for your customers each week
  • Spending just 1% more of your time in the company of prospective clients
  • Holding just one event, workshop, open day or seminar

Do you need help defining good habits for your business, not know which are good ones or where to start? Email me at cmw@wheatcroft.info or call me for a helpful starting point chat on 07895 389919.


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