Apply Tiny Habits to Business Growth with Fogg Behavior Model

byRachel Steininger

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In the dynamic landscape of leadership, understanding and implementing BJ Fogg's Behavior Model emerges as a game-changer. We’ll look at the essence of Fogg's groundbreaking model as described in his book, Tiny Habits, and its real-world business applications. 

Discover how this framework can revolutionize your small business leadership and help you implement business growth strategies while transitioning to a hands-free business. 

From fostering a culture of continuous improvement to driving tangible efficiency gains, explore the practical applications that can elevate your business to new heights.

Practical Leadership with Fogg Behavior Model

Leadership, at its core, is about influencing behavior. Both ours as leaders and that of our team members. It's about knowing how to inspire, empower, and guide individuals along a path that aligns with the desired goals and objectives of a company. 

And yet, as a small business owner, you need practical solutions.  You need results. 

We can bridge this gap with the behavior model developed by B.J. Fogg, a professor from Stanford University renowned in the field of behavior science, and as explored in his book, Tiny Habits

The Fogg Behavior Model: The Framework

The critical principle behind Fogg's method is a simple yet profound equation: B = MAP. Behavior (B) occurs when Motivation (M), Ability (A), and a Prompt (P) converge.

Much of Fogg’s work emphasizes the behavior in the context of your own personal habits (an action plan I can definitely jump on board with).  And yet there’s much to learn and apply as a small business leader.  

You can employ this triad to foster productive behaviors and discourage counterproductive ones within teams, apply it in building systems for a hands-free business, and use it as an anchor in process adoption. 

Recognizing that the path of least resistance often leads to the desired goal, leaders can endorse behaviors that are not just beneficial to the company but also easy and appealing to the team members.  Which very practically makes your job easier as a professional or legal services provider.

Visual Model of BJ Fogg Behavior Model (source Tiny Habits) Behavior = Motivation + Ability + Prompt

Ability and Motivation: Twin Pillars of Behavior

A crucial facet of Fogg’s Behavior Model is Ability - the ease at which tasks can be accomplished. When team members find it quick and comfortable to perform a task, they are more likely to do it. It’s the leader's responsibility to ensure that their team has the required skill and resources to perform their tasks effectively. 

However, ability in itself isn't sufficient. It must be paired with motivation. 

(Reinforcing the fact that when it comes to having and keeping great employees, pay matters, but it's not everything.)

While ability determines if a task can be done, motivation answers if there's an ample reason or desire for doing so. 

It's critical to align team members' motivations with the company's goals to unlock their full potential. When employees find a personal, resonating purpose in their work, they exhibit increased productivity, dedication, and job satisfaction.

The Prompt: The Kickoff to Action

The last piece of the puzzle is the prompt. It's the trigger that initiates the behavior. In the workplace, you might serve as the prompt but ideally, something else will do it for you.  Because the more you are the prompt, the more you are the bottleneck. 

The prompt could be anything from an email arriving to a new pipeline stage reached to logging out for a lunch break.  

Implications of B=MAP for Business Growth

You’ve got a lot going on as a business owner.  But breaking things down can make the complex simple and the Fogg Behavior Model provides an effective navigation tool. Understanding the role of motivation, ability, and prompts enables you to break down what would otherwise frustrate, overwhelm, or stall you, and assess what’s needed as a next step.

True leadership and business growth lies not in one's position or authority, but in one's ability to influence others' behavior positively. Reflecting on your leadership style and on the specific influences at play, you can more easily drive change and get the desired results from your business and team.

Small Business Applications of Tiny Habits

The Fogg Behavior Model especially focuses in on and reinforces the concept of creating and implementing small, sustainable habits to achieve desired outcomes. 

In the context of a small business, this can be applied in several ways.

Endorse behaviors that are beneficial to company and easy and appealing to team.

Communicating Goals

The BeyondSMART framework was developed specifically in response to employees who had the prompts and had the ability and training, but weren’t motivated to make the game-changing “asks” for their employers.

Once the business development goals were explained in a new way, the motivation shifted and so did the desired behavior.  The result was a 2x increase in revenue thanks to the new leads generated.

Developing Written Procedures

BJ Fogg's behavior equation plays a role in developing written procedures by emphasizing the importance of motivation, ability, and prompts in influencing people to follow the process. 

Prompts can and should be incorporated into written procedures to encourage adherence.  But simply providing written instructions, even with included prompts, may not be enough to ensure compliance. 

Take my disastrous $250,000 client payout thanks to an error caused by the equivalent of a mistyped negative versus positive sign.  The written checklist had been negotiated over the course of the previous 9 months. 

It wasn’t like it hadn’t been vetted.  But the significance of the task and the context hadn’t been firmly established.  Put in terms of Fogg’s model, motivation and ability were lacking.

It is vital to consider the motivation and ability of individuals to follow the procedures.  

Using Automation In Business Processes

The behavior model will also help as you shift from processes including humans to processes including technology.  

The nice thing about automations is that they’ll work for you 24/7, just as you ask it to.  Motivation isn’t needed.

But the prompt and the ability remain part of the equation when setting up automations. Digging into the behavior model before you go to program an automation or invest in a new technology will help you better assess the tools, its limitations, and its advantages.

Applications In The Sales Process

Though much of the real-world business applications have focused on operations and leadership, consider also how the Fogg Behavior Model could fit into sales.  What’s a follow up anyway?  It’s a prompt. 

Fine tune your sales process by ensuring you’ve given the potential customer the prompt, the ability, and the motivation to convert.

Benefits of B.J. Fogg’s Behavior Model in Small Business

The benefits of applying this behavior model, not just in the academic sense, but in real world business situations.

Foster A Culture Of Continuous Improvement

By encouraging employees to establish and practice small habits that align with the business's systems and processes, the organization can create a culture that values continuous improvement. This allows the business to adapt and evolve its systems over time.

Increase efficiency and productivity

Better understanding the motivations, abilities and prompts will guide you in building business systems to streamline workflows and increase overall efficiency. Through the consistent application, you can optimize routines, identify areas for improvement, and enhance productivity.

Drive action taking

We aren’t naturally inclined to action without the prompt, ability, and motivation.  But by incorporating these three core components of behavior change, you can help make it easier for employees to embrace new ways of working, for your prospects to commit to services, and to adopt action taking that support the business's growth objectives.

Better Behavior Better Business via Fogg Behavior Model


Remember, just as your leadership of a small business can present immense challenges, it also harbors enormous possibilities of change and growth, both for you as owner and for your team and clients. 

Without a doubt, understanding and implementing Fogg's behavior model can act as a bridge between the two. Use this potential to create a sustainable, productive, and profitable workplace.

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