To improve both my skills as an entrepreneur and a top executive and entrepreneur coach, I make sure I read a lot of books, articles and blogs. Recently a client of mine recommended a book to me called The little BIG things by Tom Peters. It has blown me away! My advice? Go out and get this book today!
It’s just perfect for every entrepreneur, no matter how limited your time is. It consists of 163 ways to pursue excellence and every entrepreneur should be striving for excellence!
There are so many good books with sound ideas, but the only thing that really counts (and makes a difference) is turning an idea into reality.
Attention to detail
A few weeks ago I stayed at a hotel that could have been the role model for Tom: they paid attention to all the little BIG things!
I held a seminar for the executives of one of my European clients and we stayed at an award winning seminar hotel in Germany, approximately 200 km north-west of Munich. The service concept of this hotel is built around little BIG things. They pay attention to little things that you have never thought of.
Little BIG things like:
- Sunglasses and sunscreen in all outdoor sitting areas, so you get sun protection while working outside
- A hand written personal welcome card at your desk when you enter your room
- A CD player with several relaxation CDs to chill after a long seminar
- A little map with routes for runners, in case you need some exercise
- A DVD library at the reception and a DVD player in every room in case you can’t stand the TV programming
- The cakes, fruits and sweets during your coffee break are not served on a table but on a ‘Sushi conveyor belt’
For me and most of the guests who were staying at the hotel for the first time, the most unique service happens during check-in. You tell the receptionist your name and while they are looking for your reservation, you get offered a free glass of champaign. Before I continue, the champaign is not the unique service.
After enjoying your glass, the receptionist doesn’t just hand the keys over to you. No, not at all. She steps in front of her desk and guides you to your room, no matter how close or far, no matter how often you’ve been there. Every seminar attendee who stayed there for the first time mentioned this experience when I asked him about comments regarding the hotel. Every single one!
You probably wouldn’t miss these little things if they would not be there. But as soon as you experienced them once, you will always look for them at every other hotel! And you most likely won’t find them.
Did I mention that they won an award not once, but nine times. They have been the number one seminar hotel in Germany for nine consecutive years. Impressive. This doesn’t happen by accident; it requires hard work, outstanding customer service and a sense for the little BIG things. The hotel is called ‘Schindlerhof’ in the city of Nuremberg.
I think Tom Peters would love this hotel as well, because it symbolises what he preaches in his book.
From theory to reality
Tip number 149 says: “What makes you so special?” Tom quotes Jerry Garcia’s words “You don’t want to be merely the best of the best. You want to be the only ones who do what you do.” That’s it! If you are the only one (in a positive way of course), how can anyone compete with you? This doesn’t mean you need to dominate a market that no-one else is playing in. It means you need to be so good at what you do, and pay so much attention to the little details, that it doesn’t matter who your competitors are.
I believe that in the end excellence is the only way to have a sustainable business, because being excellent requires you to reinvent yourself again and again. As soon as you stop improving, you’re taking a step back while your competition is jumping forward and eventually ahead of you, to kick you out of business.
If you need some inspiration, if you want to improve your business and don’t know where to start, just get this book. Open it at any page and implement the tip you find on that page. If you do that once a week, your business will have implemented 52 little BIG things and be outstanding in one years’ time! It will take just a few minutes to read the one or two pages and you will immediately know what you have to do. It might even be more valuable than getting your MBA…
Start paying attention to the little BIG things and offer your customer some extra value he never expected and has never experienced (before you, that is).
It’s your duty to find these little things, because nobody else will tell you! Make it a fun part of your own and your employee’s life to find a little BIG thing every week. You can have a rule that it mustn’t cost you more than a given amount of money. The little things are most likely very cheap, but priceless in terms of you WOWING your customers.
If you have fun doing that, your clients will have fun as well – and that’s a good foundation for a successful business!