The 1% Principle…

Chris Gardener
5 min readAug 3, 2018

The 1% principle is an idea that came out of researching and writing my book, The Busyness Delusion. Clients of mine who have taken it to heart have seen extraordinary growth in their businesses.

And even more importantly, that growth happened without requiring much effort.

It may seem like a magic trick. Perhaps it is … but it starts with some simple maths.

Now I know you may be thinking… “I’m not interested in maths”.

Well that’s understandable… but it reveals something that we can apply directly and with great ease into our businesses.

So many independent businesses owners are overwhelmed with to do lists as long as their arm and find it difficult to get everything done. There’s often a sense of never doing enough and that there’s always something else to do.

The idea of the 1% principle is to help you see that you can find the time for these tasks.

The first equation is simply the number 1 raised to the power 365.

The number 365 simply means 1 x 1 x 1 x 1 … 365 times. Anything multiplied by 1 remains unchanged, so the result is 1.

But what happens if we add 1% to that, which is the second equation?

1% bigger than 1 is 1.01, it’s just one percent more.

And if we take 1.01 and we raise that to the power 365 — so in other words, we multiply 1.01 x 1.01 x 1.01 x 1.01 … 365 times, what would you think the answer would be? How big do you think this number gets…?

Well… you may be surprised that it equals 37.8 … notice that this is almost 38 times bigger than the answer to the first equation above.

This is the result you’d get if you “did just 1% more than usual”.

On the other hand, what happens if you do 1% less?

This time the answer is VERY different … the result collapses … ending up at just less than 0.03.

It’s worth recognising the implication here … starting with “what you’ve got now” (represented as “1”), doing “not quite enough” on a consistent basis erodes what you’ve got almost completely.


Well… three geeky maths equations. You might be fairly asking at this stage “Why does this matter?”.

If we look at the difference between the first equation and the second.

Equation 2 is thirty-seven times bigger than equation 1. Fine… no big deal.

But… what if we look at the last two equations.

Equation 2 is roughly 1500 times bigger than equation 3… which is a huge difference!

If we are to group the equations together and draw a line right down the middle, you can see there are huge differences in value on the right hand side, but what about the left hand side?

The difference in value is just 1%… it’s tiny!

Why are the differences so significant…?

The answer is in the number 365, which represents every day of the year.

How do we take this into practice and into our business?

Well the magic is in the consistency of the approach. Looking at the equation, you can see the amount that you need to put in on the left hand side is tiny.

The outcome = If you can work on something to really move you forward 1% more than you are currently doing, every day. You will end up with a considerable amount of impact from that work.

Whereas if you don’t do that little bit extra every day, because it’s seems hard or because it doesn’t seem worth it, very quickly the output reduces to practically zero.

Little steps, done consistently time and time again, compound into big, big differences. And not taking those little steps, makes the effect almost disappear.

What does 1% mean in practice?

Let’s say you work a “normal” job and do the 9–5 shift, in this shift there are 8 hours which equals 480 minutes. To make the maths easy, lets add another 20 which is 500 minutes.

1% of 500 minutes is 5 minutes…

Can you find 5 minutes every day to make the magic happen?!

When you do this consistently, every day, it may take longer to reach your goal but the compounding effect is that you are building momentum and that is where the real gold is…

Why not use the first five minutes of your day doing the smart work that actually takes your business forward? What can you do in that 1% of time to grow your business?

I often get people saying to me “5 minutes is not worth it, it’s such a little amount of time. I’ll wait until Friday and I’ll do half an hour”. But you know as well as I know, life doesn’t work like that. Something else will take over. Something else will get in the way.

It’s the starting and getting over that friction that so hard.

Yet when you start with the intention to do five minutes a day, you’ve moved forward.

Maybe it is just scribbling an idea, or writing down a paragraph, but you have made progress. And quite possibly, once you’ve done your 5 minutes, you’ll want to continue…

It’s the starting and the intention for consistency that makes all the difference. The magic is in that 365 number. Every day consistency i will totally transform the results that you get, and if your experience is like mine and my clients, it’ll seem surprisingly easy, which is always a bonus.

Doing that little thing every day, makes the world of difference!



Chris Gardener

Specialist mentor for the self employed to get all 3Fs: Financial security then Freedom then Fulfilment