Sweatin’ the Small Stuff


FullSizeRender 11There are some personality types who fully embrace the adage “dont sweat the small stuff.” I had a roommate in college who claimed she didn’t even see dirt. Our apartment was proof. While this laidback way of life may be acceptable (for the most part) in college roommates, it is not as easy to overlook in business.

Just the same, not everyone loves wallowing in details. The limits in searching for details is infinite and exhaustive. However, excellence, the kind that sets your business apart from your competition, resides in the infinite minutia of details. In Steven Schussler’s book, It’s a Jungle in There, he recalls several times where his attention to detail made a difference in the quality of his product. Something as simple as real smoke coming from the smokestack of a toy train can draw the line between ordinary and extraordinary (Schussler, 60). In Schussler’s opinion, it is imperative for an entrepreneur to sweat the small stuff.

Not suprisingly, many other business professionals agree with him. In her Forbes article, Bad Career Advice: Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, Chrissy Scivicque states, that “in practice, the concept proved to be a surefire path to mediocrity.” She goes on to compare the concept to Sam Parker and Mac Anderson’s book 212 The Extra Degree: Extraordinary Results begin with One Small Change. She sums up the book by stating:

“All it takes is one tiny degree to transform water into something completely different and infinitely more powerful.”  

In other words, addressing the tiniest detail can be a catalyst for a more successful product or service. The premise is almost the antithesis of don’t sweat the small stuff.

In the words of Aristotle, “excellence is not an act, but a habit.” Schussler retells how his client was impressed that he stopped to remove a cigarette butt from his business premesis (61). His attention to detail was a call to act on his part. Throughout his life, Schussler cultivated a habit of discerning the details, and after years of practice, he feels compelled to act in order to acheive excellence in his business.

In summary, the adage don’t sweat the small stuff works well when you are hoping to comfort  a new mom swimming in a sea of laundry and dirty dishes. But, when you apply it to the world of business, the small stuff is just as important as the grand vision. And, if you are like my dirt-blind roommate from college, you may consider looking for a detail oriented business partner!

2 thoughts on “Sweatin’ the Small Stuff

  1. Joy,
    How many have fell victim to not sweating the small stuff? I am sure I am not the only one to have written an essay for college only to have something happen, such as a temporary electricity stoppage, and the essay had to be written because it was not saved. Yeah, it was one of those 15-page works, as well. What may appear trivial may end up being the most significant part of the equation. Again, my son gets aggravated when I tell him to make letters and numbers look how they are supposed to look and comments to me, “dad, why are you so picky?” I reply to him because it matters to perception of you by others ans how you work is viewed. Even something as small as the correct shade of a color or angle of a line can be significant. The small stuff is just as important to the overall picture as the big stuff, with it being sometimes greater than the big stuff. Respectfully, Clarence Wooten


  2. In healthcare the small things matter the most! I will never be in a position to argue that the details don’t matter. For example: my pharmacy colleagues have to mix chemo drugs to the right dose AND right concentration. My nursing colleagues have to deliver that infusion over the correct amount of time. Many tiny factors along the way play into the success of a cancer treatment and none are taken lightly. I remind myself of the precision that consumes my colleagues’ days when I find myself talking with them about an HR or Volunteer decision that doesn’t have such huge consequences. Like a healthcare professional’s details may be the difference in life or death for a patient, entrepreneurs in their first start-up may have their entire livelihood or life savings tied up in the balance of a single detail.


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