Last year I read a book by Tony Hseih who is the founder of the successful online footwear and apparel retailer Zappos. One statement in the book that really stuck with me is that Tony said that he always pushed his staff to improve 1% per day, because if they improved 1% per day, based on the laws of compounding interests they would be 3700% better by the end of the year. Its a great commentary on life and business, because it vividly illustrates that small improvements on a daily basis can create very substantial changes in even a short period of time, and much better improvements over a long period of time.
I’ve blogged about this before, but when I first started the company I wasn’t focused on creating a great company. I started the company when I was 25 years old and my main focus when first starting the company was to turn a profit, make a living and have fun. I didn’t really consider branding, and I didn’t think about how certain decisions that I made would effect the company in the long run.
One example of that is that I created a back end CRM system for our company four or five years ago and not only was the CRM very unattractive, it was riddled with grammar errors. I didn’t really care because I reasoned that the customer would never see the CRM anyway, so who cared? I was so busy trying to grow the company that I thought it was a waste of my time to bother with these sort of trivial matters.
I of course realize now that this was wrong. One of our employee’s first interactions with the company when they join the company is with our CRM. If the grammar is poor and the CRM is not visually appealing, then their first impression of the company and the management is that the company and management don’t care. This will eventually impact the way they treat their customer’s, the way they perceive their potential future career in the company, etc…
It wasn’t until I turned 30 that I truly started to understand the importance of striving for perfection. Unfortunately, its been an uphill battle, because I created a culture of mediocrity in the company, and its much easier to start off and maintain a culture of perfection, than it is to go from a culture of mediocrity to a culture of perfection. Once I realized the errors in my ways the company had already produced volumes of automatic emails to our customers, dozens upon dozens of individual pages within our CRM, marketing material, training manuals, etc… Not only was I forced to work with everyone to demand a culture of perfection in the future, we had to wade through an overwhelming amount of mess than had been created in the past 4 years.
I made a decision over a year ago that no matter how many hours I had to work, or how many minuscule tasks I had to do, I would never accept mediocrity again, and I would always do my best to ensure perfection. At the minimum I really try my best to improve the company by 1% each day, and I strive for more if possible.
Aim for perfection from day one, and if you haven’t aimed for perfection start today by making sure you improve at least 1% per day.