It is possible to transform a business with a flash of inspiration, but this article pays homage to another way that maybe less glamorous but is often more powerful and ultimately more sustainable.

It is the philosophy that cycle supremo David Brailsford used to make British cycling the force it now is, namely focusing on tiny incremental gains in performance to achieve ultimate success.

Businesses function on four types of processes – a marketing and sales process, a production or delivery process, administrative processes which keep the organisation running smoothly and a strategic process.

One type, the marketing process, delivers resource to the business, the others expend that resource.  And each type is made up of many other small processes that get repeated over and over again.  One way to succeed is to hone each process finding ways to be more marginally efficient or more effective.

For example, we may have a sales script we use with potential customers.  Perhaps we have a 50% success rate with our script.  What if we could raise that effectiveness by 2% to 52% by slightly changing the script?  It sounds insignificant.  But what if we can now combine this with a 2% increase in the number of inquiries we get by freshening up some advertising.  And what if we increase our price 2%.

I will save you the maths but that would equate to a more than 8% increase in revenue and that is significant.

What is important about these kinds of gains is that they are not easy for your competitors to copy, they tend to rely on an understanding of your business over years.

One important step is in identifying these processes that repeat.  Once we have identified some we can go to work on refining them.  We need to remain open minded that we can improve them because it is easy to get attached to the ways of doing things we are used to.

As David Brailsford says: “Forget about perfection; focus on progression, and compound the improvement.”