Did you get skip that workout you planned to do today or indulge a little extra at that meal last night?
Did you opt to put off that important customer feedback project that you had been planning to launch?
These are just a few of the many minor decisions we make everyday in our lives and business, and they usually don’t have immediate consequences. If I choose to skip my exercise today, there probably is not a significant effect on my health. If I skip the entire week, I am probably just fine. In fact, if I skip a whole month of exercise, there is probably not a consequence except that my pants may fit a little tighter. However, in time, the daily decision to not exercise will catch up with me. It may be years down the road, but my decisions regarding my health habits will have a compounding effect on my life – either for better or worse. My point is not to create guilt or motivate exercise fanatics, but to simply point out an important concept that relates directly to our success in business: we are the sum of decisions.
It has been said that if you want to understand where you are today, then you should examine your daily habits in the past.
If you want to understand your future, then you should examine what your daily habits are today.
These principles apply in our businesses as well as in our personal lives. We are always trying to get a leg up on our competition. We read books, go to seminars, learn knew skills, work harder and faster – all to try and inch out our competition in an ultra-competitive global marketplace. These are all important parts of building a successful business. For entrepreneurs desiring to build successful companies, there is another key ingredient that is often overlooked – the “Slight Edge.” Jeff Olson, in his book The Slight Edge, points out that the keys to your personal and business success are the things you do every single day, the things that don’t look dramatic or like they matter. He argues that the little daily decisions not only make a difference – they make all the difference. The Slight Edge is simply a commitment to making the right choices day in and day out in your life and business. It is a philosophy that helps us understand that we make decisions knowing that the results are long term. We know that in time, if we make the right choices, our lives and businesses will be better off.
Most of us have seen the chart that shows us that if we start investing a few dollars in our early twenties and stick with it, then we will retire with lots of money. These charts, which are often used by financial planners, illustrate the powerful principle of compound interest. When you look at the chart, it appears that you are making great progress for a number of years, but over time, the true power of compounding becomes evident. For entrepreneurs, the key is to begin making good daily choices with your time and priorities early. Don’t let everyday distractions deter you away from doing the rights things for your business. I often see companies ignore basic corporate housekeeping and other similar non-revenue producing activities in order to deal with urgent, but usually unimportant, issues. While there is no immediate consequence to your business for skipping over these often seemingly mundane details, they can have long term consequences. Often, when a company gets ready to sell or raise money and the microscope is turned on their business through due diligence, the compounding effect of poor habits in these areas truly come to light.
Most “overnight” success stories are actually the result of years of hard work and effort.
We became spoiled in the dot-com era of companies starting up and then selling out for millions. We need to be reminded that companies such as Starbucks, which has over 13,000+ stores in 39 countries, only had 165 stores after being in business 21 years. The Slight Edge is no “get-rich-quick” scheme. It is an invaluable philosophy to apply in your business to develop positive daily habits which will help maximize its potential to become a fast growth venture.