$107 million in .44 seconds

I’ve been on a slight edge kick lately, and this one is such a great example that I just have to mention it.

W. Clement Stone said “Big doors swing on little hinges.” In other words, little continuous improvements are the key to getting, and keeping, your competitive edge. I call it The Slight Edge.

I harp on it quite a bit because I see so many businesses ignoring the little things. I guess they think the big things are so important that the little things – those things that are SIMPLE and cheap to fix – just aren’t worthy of attention.

On a seemingly unrelated topic, it’s Preakness day (note: NEXT Saturday is the Preakness, not today…see what I get for posting in my sleep<g>). Time to see if Street Sense can take the 2nd leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown. This past weekend, Street Sense won the Kentucky Derby by 2 1/4 lengths.

When you think about how big these race horses are, that seems like a long way. It’s roughly the same margin that Triple Crown winner Secretariat (aka “Super Horse”) was leading by when he won the 1973 Derby and Preakness.

Secretariat fan Andrew tells me that a length is roughly 1/5 of a second. That means that Street Sense won the Derby by roughly .44 seconds. If you want to do the math: 2.25 lengths *1/5 second = .44 seconds.

I looked at Saturday’s racing form and saw that $49 million was bet on mutuels, $22 million on Exactas (bet that certain horses will win 1st and 2nd place), $27 million on Trifectas (bet that certain horses will win 1st, 2nd, & 3rd places), and $9 million on Superfectas (bet that certain horses will win 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th places).

That’s roughly $107 million dollars that changed hands as a result of one race lasting just over 2 minutes.

More accurately, $107 million of wagered money went where it did because of .44 seconds. The margin of victory for Street Sense.

Want more?

Lets look at the horse owners’ winning shares. The difference between 1st place and 5th place for the purse of the race is $1,390,000. The winning owner got $1,450,000. The second place owner got $400,000. The fifth place owner got $60,000.

The difference in time between 1st and 5th? About 9 lengths, or 1.8 seconds. A difference of $1.39 million in less than 2 seconds.

See, those little things do make a difference.

What did Street Sense eat that second place Hard Spun didn’t? What differences are there in the training, habitat, jockeys, environment and breeding of these 2 horses? Where do you find the .44 seconds? Hard to say.

Finding the slight edges in your business is a lot easier, but you have to look for them – and then do something about them. Every day.