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Lead Your Team Personal Growth

How Changing By Just 1% Can Make You a Success

It’s a new year, and chances are you’ve vowed to turn over a new leaf, change the way you do business or just generally make some big self-improvements.

While that kind of thinking is admirable, it is rarely successful. Instead of thinking big, advises author Tom Connellan, you should commit to making small changes that can make a big difference.

In his new book, “The 1% Solution for Work and Life” (Peak Performance Press, 2010), Connellan, a business consultant who was formerly the program director at the Michigan Business School’s Executive Education program, tells small business owners how they can take small steps toward growing their businesses.

“There are just a few key actionable ideas that you need to improve yourself in whatever you do,” Connellan said. “You don’t have to compete with other people. You just have to focus on being better today than you were yesterday.”

Connellan, whose clients include Marriott, FedEx, Neiman Marcus, Sony and GE gave five actionable ideas that can get your business functioning at a higher level very quickly.

  • Be 1 percent better in hundreds of things. There’s no way a company can be 100 percent better than the competition. But it can be 1 percent better at hundreds of things. A company that executes better on hundreds of things will smash the competition every time.
  • Pick one thing to change and stick with that change for 30 days.  The time frame works because research shows that it takes between 21 and 30 days for the new way to become a habit. You can even change a negative emotion, a facial expression or voice tonality as a small initial change.
  • Be better today than you were yesterday. You may never be the very best in the world at what you do, but you can be better than you are right now. The Olympic motto is "Citius Altius Fortius," which translates into “swifter, higher, stronger” — not into “swiftest, highest, strongest.” That means working at getting better every day.
  • Use the Power of Yet.  “I’m not a millionaire” is different than “I’m not a millionaire yet.”  Each resonates within the body in a different way. Think of your body as an electromagnetic field and you’ll find that even something as small as simply adding “yet” to a statement changes the way your body feels. Try it with different statements.  Ask friends and family to try it.
  • Know that even positive change feels uncomfortable. “Clasp your hands together. Note which thumb is on top. Now take your hands apart and put them back together again – this time with the other thumb on top.  How does that feel?” Connellan said. “If you used words like ‘weird,’ ‘awkward,’ ‘strange’ or ‘uncomfortable,’ that’s normal.  Realize that when you make a change – however small – that’s the initial (and normal) response. At about the 21st day, that feeling goes away — this is when the new habit gets locked in.”

It’s easy for people to identify many places and ways they can make improvements in their life, but because they lack a structure for making improvements, the improvements seldom last, Connellan said.