You’ve probably heard people talk about leverage. And not the TV show of recent years. Leverage is about using a resource to its maximum advantage.
When I think of leverage in your business, I think of it as a triangle with Time, Money, and Knowledge + Talents + Passion as the three sides. When you start your business, you have all these elements in varying degrees. And likely some are limited.
As you grow your business, you begin to have more of each and can use each to its maximum advantage. And, you can leverage other people’s time, money and knowledge, too.
You invest in each of them because you want something back in your business. You have an expectation of a return on this investment.
Everyone has the same 24 hours in the day. You can’t create more or save it for another day. And, you have no clue how much time you actually have in the end. Because time is your only irreplaceable leverage resource, it’s the one to start with first.
One of the keys to being able to leverage your time is to surround yourself with great people. Here are three ways to leverage time.
Learn to use other people’s time. This could be hiring people to lighten your load. It could be bartering tasks. It could be creating win-win opportunities with other partners.
Look for ways to serve more people at one time. You may already be doing this, only not thinking of it as leverage. If you teach classes, either online or offline, you are reaching more than one person at a time. If you create patterns, you create the pattern once and reach many people.
Create systems for tasks. When you have a task you do more than once, create a written procedure for it. This way someone else could do the task and you’ve gained the time. A great example of this is in the franchise business. The franchisor has created systems that are followed by all the franchisees. That’s why you can go into a McDonald’s anywhere in the world and get the same good tasting fries.
For most of us the money side of the triangle is particularly short when we start our businesses, especially as artisan entrepreneurs. I like to say I started mine on a quilting thread! For others with corporate or other full-time jobs, money may not be the short side of the triangle, and you may be able to leverage money to a greater extent. Here are three ways to leverage money.
Reinvest what you make in your business. It’s about growing the size of your business and you will need money to do that. If you reinvest what you make rather than spending it all, you will grow at a faster rate and leverage more.
Borrow from family and friends. Many small business owners, especially those starting out, may not be able to get a bank loan. Look to borrow from your family or perhaps your friends. If you do this, be sure to draw up some type of agreement so that they get their money back with interest. As your business grows, so do both of your investments.
Look outside your close personal network for crowdsourcing. You may be most familiar with Kickstarter. Other options include Indiegogo, Smallknot, and Peoplefund.it (in the UK). A google search will yield others.
The amount of knowledge available today is more than any one of us could ever take in and understand fully. With technology today, there’s literally no end in sight to the amount of knowledge you need or can gain. Your specific talents and passions also play into this part of the leverage triangle. It’s important to dedicate yourself to lifelong learning. Look for courses to take and books to read. Here are three more ways to leverage knowledge.
Look for mentors to shortcut your learning. Study what they have done and model them. Look for ways you can work with them one-on-one. This is one of the reasons I’ve joined masterminds and hired coaches. I’m paying for the shortcuts.
Build a team. You can’t possibly know it all, and the easiest way to supplement your knowledge is with a team of advisors, affiliates, and employees who support you.
Harness the power of the Internet. This might be through search engines or programs that let your own knowledge go further.
It’s Your Turn!
How are you leveraging your time, money, and knowledge?