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Small Business Productivity Tips One Small Step At A Time

Have you ever felt stuck trying to come up with a big brilliant idea to take your business to the next level?

It’s probably the one thing I am struggling with the most. I’m still waiting for this groundbreaking idea and my bet is that it will never come.

Here’s the problem: I’m aiming too high and way too big.
It is good to have a vision but a great vision just doesn’t appears out of the blue.

Contrary to what we tend to think (and sometimes read), great businesses aren’t based on one groundbreaking idea. They are built on thousands of small daily improvements.

The Example Of GrowthHackers’ High Tempo Testing

I read Sean Ellis’ article about high tempo testing when it came out some time ago and forgot about it pretty fast. Luckily, I came back to it yesterday and realized that the best business “hack” of them all was right in front of my eyes the entire time.

It doesn’t really matter WHAT we do, we just need to do something! Every week, every day, we need to do, test, change one little thing to improve our company (and the same for our life).

Back to GrowthHackers.

Here’s how testing new ideas every day worked out for them:

High tempo testing growth hackers

Now that I am looking at it again I am wondering why I ignored the article in the first place.

So, what is high tempo testing?

This is how the idea came to life at GrowthHackers (in Sean Ellis’ words):
“Starting in January we set the goal of launching at least three new experiments per week. We use the term experiment broadly to include new initiatives, product feature releases, and yes, A/B tests.”

In other words, high tempo testing comes down to running a lot of small tests in a really short amount of time to quickly see what works and what doesn’t.

A lot of the experiments won’t work but the fact that you are moving forward will help the company grow.

The Power Of 1% By Zappos

I started reading Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh and I am learning a damn lot.

The first accomplishment worth mentioning is that I finally learned how to write Tony’s last name (after Googling it a hundred times that is). I could have stopped my learning journey there but I went a little crazy and kept on reading.

There is just so much to learn from Zappos’ beginnings and how they build the amazing culture they have today. One thing that struck me particularly hard was what they call the power of 1%.

Here’s how Alfred Lin, Zappos’ COO and CFO at the time (2009), described the rule in an email to employees:

“Think about what it means to improve just 1% per day and build upon that every single day. Doing so has a dramatic effect and will make us 37x better, not 365% (3.65x) better at the end of the year. Wake up every day and ask yourself not only what is the 1% improvement I can change to make Zappos better, but also what is the 1% improvement I can change to make myself better personally and professionally – because we, Zappos, can’t grow unless we as individual people grow too.”

There is a bunch of math there I don’t fully understand but the end result is there: if you can improve your company 1% a day, it will be 37 times better by the end of the year!

Imagine if every employee did the same…

That’s exactly what Zappos thought which led them to turn the power of 1% rule into a guideline for employees: do one thing a week to make Zappos better. It can be changing a sentence in one of the company’s documentation, wowing a customer…

It doesn’t have to be big and flashy. It just has to help the company move forward.

Buffer Weekly Improvements And Pair Calls

One of the 10 Buffer core values is to “focus on self improvement”.

Since a value means nothing if your actions don’t match your words, they designed ways to include it into their daily life.

One way they do this is through “weekly improvements”. They have a public Hackpad where each member of the team shares what he/she accomplished and what he/she is working on.

Buffer weekly improvements

A great way to stay motivated and keep track of what everyone is working on!

Since they are a distributed team, they also organize pair video calls to stay in touch and discuss their goals.

Buffer pair calls improvement

This works well because it creates accountability.
As Leo Babauta of Zen Habits wrote: “We all get lazy from time to time (or, to be more honest, all the time), and there’s nothing wrong with that. But to beat laziness, we must apply a bit of pressure, in the form of accountability.”

Some Great Tools You Can Use To Keep Track

There are tons of good productivity tools out there and I couldn’t list all of them if I wanted to. So I’ll share with you my favorite ones:


I simply couldn’t leave Trello out! We’ve been using it at CustomerIcare to list ideas and keep track of what we are doing. The best thing with Trello is that it’s extremely flexible. You can basically organize it the way that works best for you and go from there.

Here’s what my weekly schedule looks like for example:

Trello for daily improvements


A simple performance tool that gets the job done. They basically send you an email everyday asking “What’d you get done today?”.

iDoneThis daily email productivity

All you need to do then is reply to the email or log in to the app to write down your dones.


This is not a productivity or task management tool but you can use it to keep track of your progress publicly. Somewhere is built as the new generation of online CV. Once you created a profile, you get to answer “Sparks” about your work, career, life…

Somewhere for daily improvements

You can commit to posting once a day about your progress to increase accountability.

750 Words

Also not a tracking tool per say but it’s definitely on the accountability side.
The idea is to write 750 words a day about anything you want. The only goal is to accomplish the daily writing task.

I signed up today and will try using it to write about my daily improvements.

750 words tracking improvement

I’ll keep you updated on this in an upcoming post.

What now?

Let’s get to work!

Try improving at least 1 small thing a day in your business or your life and tell us how it works out for you.

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