What is a marginal gains mindset?
Marginal gains is a term from sports psychology. It refers to making small changes that build up to bigger improvements. Whether you’re on the pitch or in the office, this approach can help you make a difference.
How can you apply a marginal gains mindset to your small business?
Through our research, we have discovered that most small business owners want to make changes to the way they run their business, but don’t know where to start. So, we have worked with sports stars turned small business owners to gather some tips on how a marginal gains approach could help you.
1. Get a smart meter
Over half of small business owners reported feeling more concerned about energy costs compared to last year. One small, but effective change you can make to help you take control of your energy bills is to request a smart meter.
With a smart meter you may be able to view how much energy your company is using online, in a way that traditional meters can’t show you. Speak to your energy supplier to find out what they offer.
Smart meters also send your energy readings directly to your supplier, meaning accurate bills and an end to time spent submitting manual meter readings.
Hi, my name’s Dion Dublin, I’m a former professional footballer, I’m a presenter, I’m a pundit.
I decided to form my own little auction house. I’ve transferred my background in sports into the business world, and it was quite a simple transition for me really.
Within the sporting world, you’ve got to really push yourself to make sure you get to the common goal of winning something, and in business, you’ve got to have the same drive to make sure that you go to the very end and don’t stop short of your goal.
Marginal gains have been very important, it’s good to take small steps within lots of areas within your company, you’ll find the benefit quicker.
My top tip would be, that it’s very important to know what you’re spending your money on. As a small business, we do regularly check our outgoings. Keeping track of our energy use is one of them.
Having a smart meter helps us say goodbye to estimated bills and only paying for the energy that we use.
2. Understand the value of your time
Dion Dublin, a former professional footballer and co-owner/Company Director of Lot 9 Auction House uses prioritisation:
“I was a forward in football, so I focused on my mission, which was to score goals. I try to remember this when I’m being pulled in a million directions as a business owner – focus on what needs you most and don’t spend time doing things that others could do (and probably do better!).”
Hi, I’m George North and I play rugby for Ospreys and Wales.
About two or three years ago, with a few of my mates, [we] decided to open up Baffle Haus motorbike coffee shop in Monmouthshire.
Rugby has given me good skills for running a small business: discipline, teamwork, and leadership. I think like in a rugby team, that discipline to deliver on the goals you’ve set as a team with as much confidence and success as possible.
We use a lot of technology within the business. The energy prices are a huge concern for us.
I’ve got a smart meter at home, it’s something that I didn’t realise we could get within the business as well.
Getting a smart meter is another way we can be efficient, we’re looking forward to knowing exactly what we’re using, when we’re using it, and how much it’s going to cost us.
Through sports, we implement marginal gains every day, through training, allowing each team member to effectively get better.
With Baffle, it’s setting the goals and where we want to be short-term, midterm, long term.
A big thing for us is giving the team the freedom to explore and do what they’re best at, in this environment.
3. Make use of tech
George North, a rugby player for Osprey and Wales and co-owner of Baffle Haus café uses technology to make improvements:
“In sport, tech is essential for tracking your progress, and data analysis enables you to become a better sportsperson. Behind the scenes at the cafe, implementing technology is a hack that’s paid off big time. It's this reliance on tech that’s turned me on to getting a smart meter. In rugby, I’m a player who likes to be in control of the game, and I’m no different in business – it will help me control my energy usage and keep an eye on costs.”
My name is Sheli McCoy and I’m a competitive athlete in CrossFit and Olympic weightlifting.
About ten years ago, I began training in a gym, and it started with CrossFit, now I have a huge passion in health and fitness and the industry and I opened a gym with it.
There’s a lot of transferability between sports, mindset, ethos, work ethic, and discipline. As an athlete, I use a lot of the lessons I’ve learned in training and progress straight into my business.
The challenges we faced as small businesses in Scotland would definitely include the closures around COVID. Also, Scotland has very variable weather conditions the energy bills recently have really risen - 15% in the last three months. All of the businesses in Scotland are feeling that.
My first top tip would be to really monitor what’s going in and going out every single month As a small business owner, I for sure know how important it is to keep an eye on cash flow I’m certainly worried about wasting energy it’s important for us to minimise that.
We’re intending on installing a smart meter in our facility. Having a smart meter means I’ll be able to identify where cost savings can be made. Work a little bit smarter and gain a little bit more.
My second top tip for small business owners would be to set quarterly goals. It’s a great way for you to really look at the progress your business will make. It’s similar to my training when I set myself small achievable goals every single day, they keep me progressing and motivated.
In the future, I would definitely like to implement a little bit more personal development for myself and my staff, constantly improving ourselves by 1% is another marginal gain that we can put into our business.
4. Daily targets become habits
Sheli McCoy, a CrossFit athlete, Olympic weightlifter and co-owner of Sweatbox gym and uses daily targets to help her focus:
“Setting daily targets can help you stay on track, with these then becoming second nature. I set small targets in my daily training, and I do the same in business – such as running up the petty cash, restocking the fridge, and cleaning one machine. This then trickles down into the team, as they follow my example and set their own daily targets.”
Want to find out more?
- How to request a smart meter - Find out how you can get a smart meter for your small business.
- The benefits of smart meters for small businesses - We lay out all the potential benefits in getting a smart meter for your small business.
- Reducing costs for your small business - Find out how you can get costs down, including getting a smart meter!
How long does installation take?
Installations normally take about two hours and are arranged in advance so that you can make any necessary arrangements beforehand to ensure minimal disruption to your normal business operations.
Will my small business be charged to get a smart meter?
Many small businesses can get a smart meter at no extra cost. Depending on your business’s energy supplier and tariff, you may be charged for a part of the upgrade or for access to your energy usage data. Your supplier will let you know about any charges up-front.