THE OVERARCHING GOAL of business is to gain competitive advantage and profitability through strategic planning and extensive market research. These elements provide the big-picture goal, but they are abstractions. There’s a great deal of difference between designing a soaring cathedral and the skills and labor required to build one.

This chapter is not about “thinking big” but more about thinking small. It’s about the parts, not the whole. In the business world it’s all about the day-to-day operation, and every small advantage counts. Small advantages can accumulate quickly and dramatically improve your ability to compete.

If, at the end of a quarter, your revenues are higher than projected and your costs come in under budget, ...

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