5 Business Lessons from your Fitbit


I don’t – yet – have a Fitbit. But I’ve about a dozen friends, colleagues and clients currently sporting the blue/orange/black (and now pink) wristbands. Without exception, they’re fans. And in a few cases they’re more than fans: the light of religious conviction burns in their eyes.

It’s phenomenal, Ed. The wife gave me one for Christmas. Thought I could never do 10,000 steps a day. Now, I can’t stop. I got my 500 mile badge the other day. 500 miles! Since Christmas! That’s like walking from York to John o’Groats. And I’ve climbed enough flights of stairs to reach the cruising altitude of a jumbo jet…

As I said, the light of religious conviction: and the enthusiasm that goes with it…

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But are there any business lessons in having a Fitbit? Yes, if it helps you lose weight that’s brilliant. If you’re physically fit then your performance at work is going to improve: you’ll have more energy and more focus. But does the Fitbit have any specific business messages? The more I talk to friends and colleagues, the more I think it does…

Daily Targets Work – and they build into successful weeks and months

You’re supposed to do 10,000 steps a day. At first I didn’t see how I could do it. Then I realised I’d done 6,000 without even trying. A few changes, a walk at lunchtime and I was there. Now I’m doing my 10,000 a day – and suddenly I’m walking 35 miles a week…

This is fundamental isn’t it? Successful years don’t just happen. They’re made up of successful months, weeks and days. And hitting your targets every single day means that success in the long term is inevitable.

Marginal gains work as well

So I parked my car at the far end of the car park. Made a little detour as I walked to work. Twenty minutes walking at lunchtime instead of staring at a screen… Suddenly I’m easily doing 10,000 steps a day.

I’ve written about marginal gains several times on the blog. Having a Fitbit illustrates that concept perfectly. Everyone I know who manages their 10,000 steps a day has done the same thing – they’ve made a series of small changes which taken together have produced remarkable benefits. Exactly the same principle applies in business. Small savings on your costs, a small increase in your sales calls, a small decrease in the time it takes customers to pay you: none of them hugely significant in isolation – but taken together they’ll make a real difference to your bottom line.

Keep track of your KPIs

Last week I took 74,346 steps: I walked 34.14 miles, climbed 271 floors and burned 19,536 calories.

What are those apart from fitness KPIs? Instantly you know what you’ve done in the week, you know how you compared with last week and you know that if you took in more than 19,536 calories there’s only going to be one result when you step on the scales. Again – it’s an exact parallel with business. Every successful business owner I know measures results: they do it consistently and if they’re off course they take action quickly. But you can’t do that if you don’t know the figures.

Your Fitbit doesn’t accept excuses

It’s merciless, Ed. My Fitbit doesn’t care if it’s raining, snowing, freezing cold, whether I’ve had a hard day or whether York’s been invaded by aliens. If you don’t reach your goal you don’t get one of those little stars and that’s that.

See above: every successful business owner I know measures results – and every unsuccessful business owner makes excuses. It’s like your Physics teacher used to say: “There’s no point cheating. You’re only fooling yourself.” If you’ve missed your targets, you’ve missed your targets. Do that consistently and your business is only going in one direction.

Success is addictive

I cannot conceive of not doing my 10,000 steps a day. Between you and me I’d had a tough day last week. I went to bed at around 9,000 steps. Five minutes later I got out of bed, got dressed and walked to the corner shop. My day’s not complete until my left wrist starts vibrating.

…But hit your targets consistently – achieve the business equivalent of your 10,000 steps a day – and again, your business can only go in one direction. You cannot do anything but succeed.

As I say, I don’t yet own a Fitbit. But some of my friends and board members have achieved spectacular results thanks to the fitness band on their wrist. Hopefully they’ll heed these five lessons – and see it as the business coach on their wrist as well…

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