The Compounding Power of Small Improvements

Hit a Home Run

As humans, we like big wins. They make us feel like we’re doing something important and really fire up our pleasure centers.

Everyone loves a home run.

But there’s a LOT to be said for the power of a bunch of singles and doubles to really get your business moving.

This approach has come up several times recently, so it merits some exploration: How can you leverage the power of small successes to drive HUGE compounding gains for your biz?

The To-Do List:

Most of us have a huge to do list. It sits there on a white board, electronic task list, or in our notebook – mocking us as it grows ever longer – practically rubbing our nose in its growing presence.


Here’s a trick to apply to help with the horror of the to-do list that never seems to go away: create a smaller, daily list of those items to accomplish today. Five is a great number to start.

Create a small list of 5 things to accomplish every day. These should be achievable so that you can actually get the benefit of taking them off your list. Supercharge this technique by actually booking time on your calendar when you’ll accomplish each of these tasks. Create even more thrust in your day by putting the most challenging of these tasks first. Our brains LOVE checking things off lists. It creates a huge sense of accomplishment and provides a bit of a rush. So if you have a large task to accomplish, break it down into smaller, achievable tasks and start checking those off!

The Power of Compounding:

As previously discussed, we all love the feeling of knocking one out of the park but big wins usually take time and come with bigger risks. Babe Ruth may have hit 714 homers but he also struck out 1,330 times (that’s actually a pretty decent stat, but he was a remarkable player).

But let’s take some examples from business to demonstrate the power of a lot of small adjustments and wins for your business (which is often overlooked as we chase big leaps and successes):

If you were to make four, successive adjustments to your business which each produce a 5% positive effect, you’d actually see an overall gain of 21.5% in revenue. (And this doesn’t take into account the psychological gains made in your self-esteem.) Here’s the math on a hypothetical $10,000/month business with each 5% adjustment occurring in subsequent months:

  • Month 1: Raise prices 5%. Revenue increases from $10,000 to $10,500
  • Month 2: Reduced overhead by 5%. Revenue increases from $10,500 to $11,025
  • Month 3: Implemented program to contact prior clients resulting in a 5% improvement (assuming this is repeatable for this model). Revenue increases from $11,025 to $11,575.25
  • Month 4: Optimized best-selling items by 5%. Revenue increases from $11,576.25 to $12,155.06

That 1.5% may not seem like a lot, but if you have a $120,000/year business, that extra 1.5% puts an extra $1,800 in your coffers even without the power of compounding. (Yes, this is an over-simplification, but is all just to demonstrate gains that can be accomplished with smaller adjustments made over time.)

What can you do this week to improve your ability to check off boxes and create a series of small wins for your business?

(Special thanks to Aaron Wrixon and Byron Walker for inspiring this post.)