Oct 11

The 1% Marginal Gains Rule and How You Can Apply It To Your Business

We all admire overnight success. However, truly successful people understand that these achievements are actually the cumulative effect of small changes. 08

Entrepreneurs, for example, have a concrete idea of how consistent efforts result in significant outcomes. They know that building an empire often begins with establishing start-ups or smaller business units. 

In other words, while most leaders and business owners set huge targets, they also know that a systematic and consistent approach is needed to achieve such. 

Enter the 1% marginal rule. 

The Theory of Marginal Gains 


At the onset, the 1% marginal gains rule theory was applied to revolutionise sports, particularly British Cycling. 

The concept was introduced by Sir Dave Brailsford. He believed that a 1% improvement in a host of tiny areas would eventually result in extraordinary cumulative benefits. 

Applying the theory, he experimented with different types of training approaches to improve the performance of the British cycling team. These involved changing paint colours in training areas, separating athletes during training, and the like. 

In isolation, these approaches won’t guarantee championships in cycling competitions. But once combined with all other minor changes, such as consistent training and a 1% improvement every single day, results became staggering. 

True enough, the British cycling team transformed from being a mediocre performer to eventually winning 16 gold medals over seven Tour de France and two Olympics competitions in eight years. 

Can this be considered an overnight success? No. It’s down to the 1% marginal gains rule. 

Applying the Marginal Gains Rule to Your Business 


Based on the previous example, it’s clear that every little detail counts. 

And the same can be applied to your business, regardless of the targets and quotas (e.g., kpi for customer service) that you set for the entire team. 

If you want to increase your team’s output, don’t ask and expect your staff to deliver overnight. Instead, explain what you want to achieve and then break it down into smaller goals. 

For instance, you may want your sales representatives to make an additional 50 calls per week. Rather than expecting them to make 10 new calls daily, ask them to increase their calls by two at first. 

Once they’re comfortable with the new setup, you can gradually raise it as weeks go by – until you get the numbers you want. 

The Importance of Incremental Change 

The Importance of Incremental Change

Brailsford also highlighted another powerful benefit of marginal gains. 

According to him, it generates contagious enthusiasm. When your employees see how consistent efforts can turn into significant results, they have more incentive to go the extra mile. 

More often than not, employees are always looking for ways to improve. However, they need your guidance on how to do so. 

When you show your people how inherently rewarding marginal gains can be, it becomes part of your company culture. 

Of course, it also helps to reward your deserving employees whenever they accomplish remarkable tasks. Otherwise, you can acknowledge their efforts to improve. 

Overall, it’s way easier to focus on manageable improvements especially when you can see small yet specific results. 

This just goes to show that it’s always better to set clear and measurable goals rather than chasing big, uncertain ones that may lead to nowhere. 


Having trouble managing your big projects? We’ve got you! 

Remote Staff has been assisting Australian SMEs and entrepreneurs with the help of our remote workers from the Philippines for more than 15 years and counting. So if you’re looking for skilled managers to handle your projects or versatile virtual assistants to track your targets, we’ve got you covered. 

Call us today and schedule a call back to get started. 


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