I have always loved the theory of marginal gains. It has worked for the British Cycling team since Beijing and it has been helping Emerald and our customers improve performance since 2009. Many of you will know I love running and marginal gains helps me there too. On such a run over the weekend I decided I wanted to share some of my marginal gains learning and show how I use it to improve both my personal and professional performance

  • 1. Strengthen your trunk

In running my trunk is my legs. They are my main power source. My gym training is leg focused. I push myself on the treadmill to run at a faster pace than my road running. My arms help maintain balance but they provide no power in treadmill running, which means my legs take all the heat.

In your business IT, your trunk is your connectivity. Your broadband is your legs. And it needs to be as strong as it possibly can be. I campaign tirelessly whenever, wherever, and however I can for better digital connectivity options especially for small businesses and I really won’t rest until the day I die. That’s how important it is. But we also need to be realistic. We won’t get the connectivity we need to run our 21st Century businesses for £25 per month. Just like my gym training, we need to be prepared to invest where it matters. Running a small business myself, I understand how difficult this is. We invested in upgrading our connectivity this year over installing air-conditioning!

You can read news of Emerald’s most recent lobbying here as well as our guidelines to selecting the best connectivity for your organisation here.

  • 2. Work on your weaknesses 

Anyone who has met me knows my physical core is a bit wobbly! A mixture of genetics and lifestyle which I will struggle to change without a radical shift. And I confess this is not an investment I am prepared to make at this time because of the things I would have to give up. Mostly wine, cheese, and ice-cream with my daughter! But that doesn’t mean I get to sit and do nothing. I work on my core through planks and I have just started yoga. It might be my weak point but I am going to make it as strong as it possibly can be.

Your business IT will be the same. The network will have a weak spot or an area that you do not have the budget to invest heavily in right now. That doesn’t mean doing nothing. A really good example is a customer we are working with who have a huge database hosted onsite. It’s slow, clunky, and almost impossible to use when out of the office. However we are looking at what we can do to improve performance for remote access by creating a lighter interface for project teams while we investigate other longer term solutions. Like my wine and ice-cream, this business can’t imagine giving up their database despite it’s inefficiency but they, like me, might change perspective in the future.

  • 3. Invest in your equipment 

When I first started running back in 2013 I just put on a pair of old trainers and went out! Now I run in a pair of bespoke fit trainers and insoles to cushion my problem areas. I have made other running investments too. My iPhone (in it’s handy pouch!) gives me music and tracking which keep me motivated on the run itself and for the next one. After running my first half marathon in awful heavy jogging bottoms, I also now have much better running clothes. Adding it all up I have spent close to £1,000 on stuff. I don’t strictly need any of it to run but it makes a massive difference to improving. I have also made costly mistakes though. Three lots of expensive bluetooth headphones before I found the right pair for me. There is nothing more annoying than the wrong headphones! I could have made better choices there and done more research – but it’s hard to know what will work until you know what doesn’t.

Similarly, one of the biggest issues we see at Emerald is where a business has invested heavily in an IT solution that hasn’t worked out. It leaves them distrusting IT and all who work within it. The issue is there is no golden technology solution for you. There is a lot of trial and error. It’s called innovation. But working with the right IT company can help you reduce the cost to your business. We create test environments for you to trial situations and set-ups before you invest heavily and let a new IT solution loose on your business. We love co-design with as many members of the team as possible and our favourite people within your organisation are your beta-testers! Investment of time and resources will make your IT work infinitely better in your business and make it so much more pleasurable to use!

Many people will tell you I could talk about all of this for hours! Let me know if you’d like to grab a coffee and I’ll limit it to as long as you can stand. If you want your business to improve, or continue its current performance, now is the time to act.

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