Aggregation of Marginal Gains

I was recently geeking out to some of my favourite podcasts and I came across an episode of The Foundation podcast with James Clear.  It was a really good interview, in fact I listened to it twice.  But the part of it that really grabbed me was what he referred to as the “Aggregation of Marginal Gains”.

Basically it refers to the fact that 1% improvements when stacked over time can become substantial and create significant change.  It was popularised recently by the visionary head coach for the British cycling team who used this theory successfully to win the Tour de France not once but twice just 3 years after he took over the team and then went on to take out 70% of the cycling medals at the 2012 Olympics.

I absolutely love this concept because it’s so workable and flexible!  We are all so intent on making these huge leaps and big wins but if there is one thing that has been the biggest lesson in my 30’s it’s that systems and consistency that integrate small changes repeated over time will win…every time.

So I decided to apply this to my ecommerce business.  Over the next 100 days I am going to do one small thing the should have a positive impact on my business.  1% per day is 100% improvement in 100 days!  That would be nice but I am not expecting this result.  Continuing to build me sales at around 10% per month (approximately 30% over the 3 months) is just fine by me.

Here’s the 3 rules for my little game.

a) They have to be small things – if they’re big I probably won’t get around to doing them, remember I’m only looking for a 1% improvement per task.  This would be the equivalent of getting just 1 additional sale per year from each action.

b) They can’t be tasks I would do anyway.  EG. Order more stock or go to the post office.  It’s needs to be tasks that are on top of what needs to get done on a day to day basis.

c) Each thing can not take more than 10 minutes (approx 16 hours over the course of 3 months).  I believe in working smarter not harder!

So here are some examples of my 100 things

  • Add a local number to the website
  • Email one person about updating design on front page
  • Take a picture of ‘x’ product
  • Add a picture of the warehouse to the ‘About Us’ page
  • Contact one person about doing product videos
  • Order new business cards on Moo.Com

I’ll do a follow up post in 3 months, it will be super interesting to see what results this has on my bottom line so keep up to date with my month revenue reports!


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