“Chicks dig the long ball” or so goes the saying which originated from this famous Nike commercial. Home runs are great, but every baseball fan knows consistently hitting singles and doubles can get you to the hall of fame.

The same is true in business. Too many people think they need to make that huge splash to get noticed and move up the ladder. You don’t need to sign the big new client or create the game-changing product. I mean those things are great, but there are other ways of getting noticed and adding value.

In that spirit, here are 5 things anyone in any business can do to create “small wins” to improve their business and career.

5 Small Wins to Improve Your Business

Dissect the parts of your day that suck

No matter what department you’re in, I bet there are things about your job that annoy you. I’m not talking about the guy in the next cube that doesn’t know how to blow his nose or the lady that burns her popcorn every day.

I’m talking about the mundane tasks. The accounts receivable clerk who manually sends out payment reminders, the HR manager who has to hound team members for feedback on applicants, or the marketing specialist who enters business card information from a tradeshow into the CRM.

First, figure out what benefit those tasks even provide. The ones I listed surely add value and are needed, but there are far too many times in companies where people are asked to do things “because that’s how we’ve always done it”. Nobody bothers to ask why or if it is needed.

Assuming, it adds value and is needed, ask yourself “is there a better way?” There are numerous third party software solutions that exist to solve almost every issue or improve every business process. These are usually much more cost effective way. All it takes is someone like yourself to take some initiative.

You can’t just ask the question though. You need to seek out solutions. Find ones that make sense and then present your business case to whoever you need approval from. It’s not rocket science. The decision makers in your company will listen to ideas that save time and/or money.

Ask co-workers what parts of their days suck

The benefits and process of this exercise are similar to those mentioned on the first point, but it’s a little different for other people’s issues.

Just having a fresh set of eyes and ears on it can help. We all get so deep into our own thing that having a fresh perspective can sometimes uncover obvious solutions.

It’s also beneficial to collaborate with others. Two brains are usually better than one. Even if you don’t solve the issue, the process of working together will improve your relationship. If nothing else, most people appreciate the simple act of listening to them vent about an annoyance of theirs.

Read every day

Almost all successful people read a ton. Reading habits of Warren Buffett and Bill Gates have been well documented. You don’t need to read six hours a day like Buffett, but you should set aside some time every day to read.

I read a fair amount of books, but reading business articles has proven far more valuable to me. Medium is by far where I get the most value.

I’ve find that many of the times I get the most value are when I read articles on things I’m only partially interested. Something random about the headline caught my eye enough to read it. It can be totally unrelated to any issue I’m facing or project I’m working on, but it gets me thinking differently. That then leads me to a solution to something that was previously stumping me or gives me an idea of a better way to do something else.

Hopefully that made at least a little sense. Point is – make time to read every day. You’ll thank me. I guarantee if you expand your reading time, you’ll come up with more good ideas for your business.

Write things down

I’ve never in my life had an actual journal. I should start. There is a ton of research showing how effective it is. I suppose blogging helps me a lot, but what I’m talking about on this point is simply writing down your ideas.

You think you’ll remember it but you won’t. Write it down.

For me, it’s the notes app on my phone. At any given time, I’ll have at least 75 notes. Some are business ideas (potential home runs) but most are blog post ideas, little things in our app that need fixing, ideas for a change to an HR policy, or other random items (singles and doubles).

Sometimes I jump right into these, but many times I just document them so I can come back to them later. Which brings up another point – actually come back to them later. Every once in awhile I go through and clean out my notes. Many were things that I wonder what the hell I was thinking when I wrote them, but there are always a few good ones in there too.

Look outside of your company

Hopefully you have some sort of a network outside of your company. I don’t mean old high school friends or people from the gym. I’m talking about people at other companies in similar roles as you.

Pick their brain. Ask what cool things they’re working on. Ask how they handle the parts of your job that annoy you. Ask them what the product or service they use that they would recommend the most.

Try to stay away from the big things like what CRM or ERP do they use. Those are “home run” type items that probably don’t get changed in your company too often.

The best stuff is usually found on the bolt-on solutions. Over the years I’ve discovered customer advocacy solutions, quarterly financial close solutions, recruiting solutions, and many others. These weren’t things I was even looking for, but they’ve added a ton of value to my companies. Some turned into home runs but most were singles and doubles.

It all comes down to being curious

Like most things I blog out, it can all be summarized with “always be curious.” Get your work done and do it well, but also be curious about finding better solutions. There are times to swing for the fences, but I’ve had the most success going for the single or double.

Those are things where solutions don’t cost as much, decisions are made quicker, and you have a good shot of not only getting it approved but taking the lead on rolling it out. Get a few of those under your belt and you’ll quickly move up the ladder.

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