The biggest business lesson from Team GB at the Olympics

Here's the main take-away lesson from the Olympics for entrepreneurs.

Unless you’ve been stranded on a remote island recently, you’ll have heard Team GB followed on from the success of London 2012 and earned its most successful overseas Olympic medal haul of all time.

Remarkably, Team GB more than doubled the medal tally achieved in Athens just 12 years ago and even exceeded the haul from 2012, despite taking almost 200 less athletes.

The question is, how has Team GB managed to transform its success rate in such a small space of time? Looking at the cycling team, which could be viewed as the bedrock for this turnaround, it’s the ability to breakdown each event into precise sections. Doing so has enabled the cyclists to test each element for improvements, before looking for minor alterations to give them a significant advantage over their rivals.

This is the power of marginal gains, but it is time to take this approach further afield than just sports. It’s time for business leaders to realise exactly how embracing marginal gains can improve operational efficiency.

The marginal gains strategy, which states improving 30 factors by one per cent gives the same result as improving one factor by 30 per cent, can be applied to businesses of all sizes. Professionals can learn and apply the theory to boost productivity levels and transform their customer experience simultaneously.

The innovative strategy of marginal gains can progress and develop businesses when forward-thinking technology is utilised and incremental improvements are made.

Business leaders should find areas where this technology can aid operational efficiency to save time and cut costs in the workplace.

Where can businesses look to make gains?

Technology is a vital tool to help realise marginal gains. Reliable, progressive software enables businesses to reduce time spent on non-business critical activity. Shockingly, a quarter of UK SMEs lose more than three hours a week to administration and this isn’t an environment which supports either operational efficiency or business growth.

By utilising the tools available, admin can be largely automated so leaders can take the hours chained to their desks and spend this increasing the customer-base and adding value to the business.

One area the marginal gains approach can have a stark impact on is cash flow management. After all, this is a vital element of any business so leaders must get this right. However, getting it right doesn’t necessarily mean spending hours on the task itself – technology can be implemented to automate particular elements of the process.

Rather than traditional bookkeeping with large piles or receipts or seemingly never-ending spreadsheets, mobile devices can offer a real-time overview of a business’ accounts on the move. This can then be checked in between meetings or during the commute, rather than decreasing productivity by becoming the sole focus of an employee for hours at a time.

Significant time can also be saved when employees can quickly access files, track jobs and oversee the progress of that week’s priorities. Many businesses would therefore benefit from a shared online system which ensures the entire team has a 360 degree view of tasks and expectations and any documentation associated with this.

Employees can achieve more in less time using fewer resources, meaning they can add more value to the business and their customers.

The benefits of marginal gains

Shrinking the time consumed by administration and business management allows companies to spend their time wisely and effectively. This time can be spent attracting new customers and forging closer relationships with existing ones.

Companies can focus on building their reputation and growing their business using the same resources. The extra time also enables professionals to offer added value. All of these benefits could be deemed impossible without gaining efficiencies in a variety of different ways.

Undoubtedly, marginal gains can have a powerful impact on the operational efficiently of a business. Those who strive to succeed in the evolving business world must adopt the marginal gains mindset in order to transform their company and become more successful.

As the HMRC pushes ahead with the ‘Making Tax Digital’ campaign, it’s becoming increasingly important to work as efficiently as possible and focusing on specific areas where change is required facilitates this. After all, if Team GB can transform its success rate in such a small amount of time, imagine the changes a businesses could make by 2020 by embracing the marginal gains philosophy.

Steve Cox is a product director at IRIS Software.

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda was Editor for from 2016 to 2018.

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