How To Use Leverage To Skyrocket Your Business And Maximize Productivity
One of the biggest mistakes I made when I was just getting started in business was this: I failed to consider if and how I would be able to leverage my startup.
Yes, I had thought about hiring employees down the road and at the time I thought that that was leveraging- boy was I wrong! Hiring employees can be a useful leveraging tool for some business models, but for others, the cost just doesn't pan out. And that’s where I fell short.
Leveraging is critically important to the health of you AND your business, because it allows you to grow your business without continuing to trade hours for dollars. As we all know, there are only so many hours in a day to work, and it's important to reserve some of them for your personal life.
The reality is that it has never been easier to acquire the skills and tools to leverage your business quickly, than it is today. We have so many resources available to us through the Internet that previous generations of entrepreneurs just didn’t have access to.
So whether you are just getting started in the world of entrepreneurship or you are an established business owner who is trying to grow, today’s post is for you! Let's jump in.
1. the power to influence a person or situation to achieve a particular outcome.
2. use (something) to maximum advantage.
5 Ways To Use Leverage To Skyrocket Your Business
1. Start Outsourcing Business Tasks
In the early days of your business, you will probably wear all of the hats and do everything yourself to keep costs low.
This is a great way to start out, and it’s actually one of the things successful companies do best in the beginning. In his fabulous book Start Something That Matters, Blake Mycoskie writes:
"Being comfortable can hurt your creative entrepreneurial spirit. An early and unearned sense of security can be the worst thing that can happen to a business. If you have little money and have to bootstrap and improvise to pull things together, that becomes embedded in your company's DNA forever- so as you scale up, you maintain the frugality and efficiency that helped you survive your earliest days."
So if you’re bootstrapping your way and basically operating with only a tin can and a shoelace, you’re doing it right.
That being said, there will come a day in your business when you reach a crossroads. You’ll either find yourself so burned out that quality control suffers, or you’ll find yourself with so little time that you won’t be able to expand your business further.
In order to continue growing, you will need to take advantage of at least one form of outsourcing. Thankfully, there are a few types of outsourcing, and they range from super fast and low commitment to higher commitment and higher reward.
You can easily get started by outsourcing small individual tasks on sites like Upwork or Fiverr. This is a great way to get your feet wet and practice hiring out a few of your to do's.
You can also hire bigger service companies to taken entire business departments off of your plate. An example might be hiring a service company to manage your phone lines or provide customer service for your entire organization.
Lastly (and this one's my favorite!) you can hire a personal assistant (virtual or otherwise) to learn your business and take over a specific set of tasks. Virtual assistants come in every flavor, from general assistants to web developers to writers and social media managers.
I’ve written a huge guide to outsourcing already, so make sure you check it out to get all the details you’ll need to get started.
The big picture of outsourcing is that once your business is established, it becomes necessary for you to free yourself from the ten dollar per hour work to give yourself the time and stamina to do the hundred dollar per hour work. That is how you really grow your impact and income.
2. Implement Automation Software
One of the greatest things about being in business today is that there are so many tools available online to help you streamline your business. Automation software may sound like an overly complicated tool, but trust me, it isn’t.
Whether your business is online or off, you can find free or low cost automation tools to free up more of your time and reduce the hassle of basic business tasks. Here are a few examples of tools that can make an enormous difference in the efficiency of your business:
- email automation (ConvertKit, Aweber, Mailchimp, etc)
- content delivery automation (Editorial Calendar WP plugin, IFTTT, Buffer, etc)
- workflow automation (Asana, Trello, Basecamp, etc)
- social media automation (Hootsuite, Tailwind, CoSchedule, etc)
- marketing automation (Act On, Campaign Monitor, Bronto, etc)
- financial reporting automation (FreshBooks, Budget Maestro, Hubble, etc)
Start by brainstorming a list of all of the tasks you spend a ton of time on. Which of these tasks really aren’t the best use of your time and energy? Which tasks do you really dislike doing?
Once you have a good idea where you are bleeding time and energy, start researching tools online that can take the load off of you. It is worth the time needed to learn these systems and implement them into your business.
“Being able to quit things that don’t work is integral to being a winner.”
– Tim Ferriss
3. Educate Yourself To Speed Up Growth
In the old days if you wanted to learn something, you’d probably be spending your afternoon tediously going through the public library or signing up for long classes at your local university.
Now, information and education is one of the biggest online industries.
Online courses, blogs, and forums can provide you with just about anything you need to learn how to do. In fact, many universities are even starting to put their online curriculum up for the public to learn from, for free.
Investing in your business is one of the best things you can do to ensure it’s success in the long term. Don’t worry about nice chairs or fancy brochures- spend your money wisely on things that will earn you an excellent return on investment.
Audiobooks, courses, memberships, and other forms of education can save you years of trying to figure out complicated tasks on your own.
Ready to start stocking your pantry full of your own preserves? Grab these editable canning jar lids as a perk of becoming a subscriber, and you'll have shelves of beautifully labelled jars in no time.
4. Leverage Other Businesses Customers
If you’re trying to grow your customer base, one of the best ways you’ll find to do so is to leverage the customer bases of other companies.
These other companies will likely be businesses in your industry who complement your work, rather than compete with it. What do I mean by that? Peoples interests tend to overlap in patterns- we really aren't as unique as we think we are.
Yogis tend to be vegetarians who are also interested in meditation. Parents of young children tend to be interested in useful parenting techniques and crafts for kids. Twenty-something women tend to be interested in healthy diets and makeup. I'm generalizing here, but that's the point.
Your target audience will likely have several fringe interests in common with each other, and you can use those interests to find new followers and customers.
For example, when I ran my pet sitting business I would often ask to put up flyers at my local vets offices and groom shops.
These businesses didn’t compete with mine, but we shared the same type of customers- suburbanite pet owners with above average income who lived within 10 miles of me.
I built a relationship with these business owners, and we were able to create a win-win relationship. Their clients saw my pet care flyers posted in their shops, and I was able to make recommendations when my clients asked me if I knew of a great groomer or vet in the area.
Leveraging Other Audiences Online
If you’re in the online world, one great way to leverage other blogs' customer bases is by guest posting. When you guest post for another blog, you create also a valuable win-win situation for them and for yourself.
The other blog will receive free high quality content to share with their following, and you’ll receive a link back to your blog and a few interested readers who come to your platform to see what you’re all about.
Another way to leverage other online audiences might be to do a co-create a webinar with someone else in your industry who has a solid following. You could also find popular podcasts in your niche and ask to be interviewed on them.
If you dive deep into the interests of the people who follow you, you’ll find that there are a number of other fringe interests that overlap, and which will point you to other business owners or bloggers to work with.
5. License Your Work To Others
If you are a creator at heart and love creating new products (digital or physical), a great way to grow your business might be licensing your work for others to sell for you.
In the online world, this is called affiliate marketing. In the brick-and-mortar business world, it is usually referred to as wholesaling.
Let’s say you are a soapmaker and your dream is to invent new wonderful smelling soaps everyday in the comfort of your own kitchen.
You don’t feel drawn to the marketing side of business as much, so you decide to partner up with other businesses to help sell your goods.
Maybe you reach out to local shops in your area to see if they’d like to stock your soaps in exchange for a percentage of sales. You might also reach out to online shops on Etsy that have a solid customer base and see if you can provide product for them.
Again, the right partnership will be a win-win situation for both business owners, and will help you leverage your time so you can do what you do best.
How To License Your Work Online
As another example, let’s say that you are a writer and would like more than anything to spend your days writing without the hassle of constantly searching for new customers or dealing with social media.
In the affiliate marketing world, you can license your products to people who do have large readerships, but who might not necessarily have the time or motivation to create their own products.
Maybe you love writing about cooking, and you’ve created an awesome new cookbook for people who love bacon. There are bacon desserts, bacon topped entrees, and bacon-based snacks. You’ve thought of ‘em all.
Now your next step is to find a handful of people in your industry circle who are both looking for products to sell, and who have a solid customer base to sell to.
To start, you might find a few popular paleo bloggers and see if they’d be interested in selling your work. Then you might check out the smaller bookstores around town and bring a print copy of your book for them to look over.
Next you might peruse around Etsy or Amazon and see if there are other top sellers who are interested in your work.
How To Start Leveraging The Right Way
Your first step to leveraging effectively is to spend an hour or two really looking at your business model, your strengths, and your weaknesses, and narrow down the kind of help you need. Do you need one-off help with a single task or two? Do you have a list of tasks that need doing day after day, preferably by the same person who learns your techniques?
Once you have an answer to your problem, I suggest starting with just one of the techniques listed in this post. Test the waters, learn more about the leveraging technique you’ve chosen, and ultimately master that first small step before moving on to the next.
Leveraging is a wonderful way to grow your business quickly and efficiently, and you have all of the knowledge and tools at your disposal to get started right away. Just keep an eye out for growing pains, and make sure to never sacrifice quality for faster growth.
Getting to this point is an exciting time in your business, so pat yourself on the back! You've overcome a lot to get to this point, and you deserve a break.
Outsourcing effectively can not only put time back on your calendar, but it will allow you to continue to share your talents with the world while coming from a place of strength and happiness. And believe me, our world needs what you have to offer!
Question: Which leveraging technique do you plan to use in your business, and why? Let me know in the comments below!