Small Actions Do Matter Over Time

How Systematic Small Improvements Determine Success

Kaizen is a Japanese word that refers to systematic small improvements in a business product or system. As the economy shifts from big hulking corporations, to small, lean and fast businesses, kaizen is a word that will increase in popularity.

Most big corporations became large because they leveraged small acts of service, whether it's a Subway sandwich, a McDonald's hamburger, or a simple bank deposit at your local Bank of America.

What happens though is that as a service is commoditized, the actual value of the service lessens. McDonald's cares about being cheap, not necessarily having the best looking hamburger. Bank of America focuses on availability, not necessarily high interest on their savings accounts.

Small businesses may not serve the cheapest hamburger, but it might be the best tasting or the most original.

When you set a large enough goal, it can be a bit intimidating. Successful entrepreneurs learn to take that goal and break it down into small, incremental steps. Even the largest of goals come down to making a phone call, writing a report, setting up a meeting with an account, and so forth. It's easy to be bogged down in the enormity of a task, when in truth, you eat an elephant by taking one bite at a time.

Something interesting happens when you focus on incremental augmentation. The small steps become easier. You build momentum and a skillset for larger goals. You are able to reach larger customers. More people are reading your blog.

Sooner or later, the hard work meets opportunity, like something out of Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers or his other bestselling book The Tipping Point.

The key to acheiving any task large and small, is to break it down into its essential tasks, and start crossing things off the list one step at a time. Some best-selling novelists made a pact with themselves to simply write a few sentences a day. Before they know it they have 10-12 published books.

A lot of success is missed out on because of "perceived competition". For instance, an essay contest goes up for scholarship money and you count yourself out because of all of the writers you assume you'll be competing against. I thought this too until I applied for a Sam Walton Community Scholarship in my hometown. When I handed the application to a manager, they replied "Hm, never saw one of these before, I'll send it in, thanks!". I received $1000 for probably an hour of work writing the essay. Not too bad, right?

Success is about small actions being performed on a consistent basis. Luck is when that hard work meets reality.

Incremental augmentation is a successful strategy building momentum for many small business owners, are you moving with the tide?