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Never give 100%

by Martin Avis

An old boss of mine, years ago, said "Never give 100%. Anyone can do that. Give 5% more and you'll be twice as good as everyone else."

Now, his math may have been suspect, but his advice is as valid now as it was then. At the time though, I just thought he was a silly old man who was trying to trick me into working even harder. Oh, the folly of youth!


 

"If you do things well, do them better. Be daring, be first, be different, be just." - Anita Roddick, founder of Body Shop


 

I read a story in the newspaper this week about a baker called David Powell, whose rundown business was on the brink of disaster. He realized that to succeed, he would have to be better than everyone else. So he specialized. He decided to bake the best muffins that could be made.

But that wasn't enough.

Nobody bought them, so he decided to become the best salesman that he could.

But that wasn't enough.

He figured that just selling muffins was never going to make the business the giant that he dreamed about. So he concentrated on selling to the very best, most upscale outlets that he could find.

But that wasn't enough.

At the top of any market the pyramid gets mighty narrow. His existing and potential customers were competitors and didn't want to be seen all selling the same brand of muffins. He didn't give up. Instead, he changed his business so it could provide each customer with individual products made to completely different recipes.

"You might think we couldn't supply three different companies who are rivals, but each company receives different style muffins with different ingredients. We even use different chocolate."

David's business is now turning over 7m ($10m) a year and showing good profits.

He did it by refusing to be as good as everyone else. Refusing to accept that 100% is enough. He went that extra mile and is now reaping the rewards.

5% may not sound like much, but it truly is the difference between being another drone and soaring like an eagle.

The good news is that you never need to perform more than one twentieth better than everyone else - a tiny increment.

I had to write a marketing report for a client a few months ago. Now a marketing report is not brain surgery. It is pretty formulaic once you have the experience to do it right. I did a good job, but knew it wasn't any better than a report any marketing consultant could have produced. So I spent a while brainstorming ideas to lift the report out of the 'average' class into the 'great' category.

It didn't take long. I added a section at the end with 10 suggestions for that company to create more business. They weren't straight marketing ideas, and they certainly weren't all original. But the company didn't expect them from me and were blown away that I would do that for them. I achieved my aim of giving 105% of what they expected. And got a personal letter of thanks from the CEO.

Anyone can do this in business. And the great news is that all those 5 percents are cumulative.

"The quality of a person's life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavour." Vincent T. Lomardi.

If you make a concerted attempt to put an extra 5% into your work or your life every week, people's perceptions of you will grow at an incredible rate. This is because every week you set a new baseline, 5% higher than the last. Further and further above the crowd.

In a year you end up appearing to be not one-twentieth better then everyone else, but 12 times better!

Once you get into the habit of delivering excellence it is a roller-coaster that you can't get off. And why would you want to? The view is so much better from up here.

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Martin Avis publishes a free weekly newsletter: BizE-Zine - your unfair advantage in Internet marketing, business and personal success.

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