Becoming Elite Comes From Being Just 1% Better
Practice Management & Professional Services & Strategic Issues & Strategy

Becoming Elite Comes From Being Just 1% Better

February 28, 2020

by Tony Vidler  CFP logo   CLU logo  ChFC logo

Becoming an elite adviser, or building an elite practice doesn’t come about by chance.  It takes graft and grit…and help.

Building a great business is rarely the result of a single champion taking on the world.  The champion business owner is usually the captain of a team that has taken on the world.  Of course, for the team to become champions the captain has to have them focussed on doing the right things, and then ensuring that they are prepared adequately to execute those right things.


Having the right people on the team, focussed on doing the right things, and then having them do those right things better than the competition is a pretty surefire formula for success.


One of the best examples of how to apply this formula came about a few years ago, from the world of sport.  The captain of a world champion rugby team was asked how his team had become champions, when they had not even been considered likely finalists to begin with. His response was along the following lines:

“we won because everyone on the team had the same individual goal: be 1% better at everything we have to do in a game than our opposite number is in that same game”


He went on to explain that perfection in how they played was never expected.  Winning any particular game was not the team focus either. Hoping for superhuman effort or heroics didn’t come into the equation at any time, and nor did relying on good fortune.  In other words; they were not setting massive goals and they did not place unrealistic expectations upon themselves.  They did instead determine to put in a bit more effort than anyone they played against, and to concentrate on honing their essential skills.


Each player in this champion team did however know precisely what the key functions of their role was, and each honed their skills relentlessly in being able to execute their own particular job just a little bit better than whoever they were pitted against.  In simple terms this meant jumping to catch a ball for example didn’t require a 2 metre leap…it just required being 2 centimetres higher than the opposition player trying to catch the same ball.  Getting 2 hands near the ball to catch it wasn’t good enough; it required 10 fingers on the ball to secure it.


The point is a simple one: if we are 1% better in skill and execution on the things that really matter than our competition are, then we are a very very good chance of getting the result.


How can we apply this to building a great Advisory Firm?

  • Set aspirational but clear expectations: being 1% better than anyone you come up against is actually a very high standard to set.  Aspirational standards and objectives are necessary in order to achieve extraordinary success.  Ensuring those expectations are unequivocally clear and measurable, and being applied consistently to the entire team, is a critical driver of success.  The paperwork is 1% better than the competition.  The phone is answered a bit faster.  We email clients back a bit quicker, and more comprehensively….you get the point.


  • Accept reality: we shall never be perfect at everything we try to do. Perfection is not the goal; being 1% better than the competition is.  More importantly, being 1% better than our last effort is even better.


  • Be best at what comes next: winning the entire market is not what comes next; dealing with the next client comes next and we need to win there first.


  • Know what skills matter: To win over that next client we have to know what skills are required to get them as a client. If we cannot win over individual prospects then market domination is merely a dream.


  • Practice the key skills:  Practice doesn’t happen “in the game”.  Being 1% better at executing key skills doesn’t happen without practice, and that has to happen before you get into the game with prospects and clients.  That means training…lots and lots of training.  For the rest of your career.


  • Be 1% better than your next competitor at ALL the key skills: Being the world’s best “closer” (or negotiator or coach or whatever) doesn’t matter if you don’t get to use that skill because you didn’t get far enough in the engagement to use it.  Being the best kicker of a ball won’t lead to your team winning a championship team if you can’t also run, pass and catch for instance.  It is the combination of having all the right skills that results in winning.


These are the 6 fundamental principles which matter if you want to build a superb professional services firm which can dominate its chosen market.  Get these right, and the result you want will come.

You may also find this post useful: 
How To Create The Culture That You WANT In Your Business


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