It’s taken me over 5 years to figure out the real business-building power of leverage, but boy, when I got it I really GOT it.
What is leverage for the entrepreneur?
Quite simply, it’s the ability to earn maximum revenue from minimum effort.
This is not about being lazy either. It’s about working smarter.
A leveraged business model ensures you will reap lasting rewards for the expertise you’ve worked so hard to develop and deliver to your people.
Unfortunately, we hear the term “leverage” thrown around all the time by the experts.
But rarely does anyone explain the mechanics of it. It’s like this mysterious key to wealth that only a lucky few stumble upon in their entrepreneurial journey.
Fundamentally though, there are just 2 keys to leverage:
1) Standardization – the establishment of processes and procedures that are adhered to in the day to day operation of the business.
This applies both to “back end” administrative tasks as well as marketing and operations. When standards are in place, you don’t have to waste time rethinking your approach. You just “do it.”
2) Systematization – the consistent application of standards to marketing and operations. Put another way: repetition, repetition, repetition.
When we define leverage this way–as systematic standardization–we can stop feeling pressure to constantly reinvent ourselves, our business, our marketing message and how we get things done.
Leverage literally frees up our intellectual, creative, and material resources for pure revenue focus. The more leveraged you are, the less resources you must invest in “building stuff” and the more time and capital you have for growth.
But nothing crystallizes a concept like concrete examples. Here are 7 of my favorite do-it-now, no-excuses tactics for leveraging time, money and expertise, resources we can all stand to use a little more effectively:
1. Write, speak or show and tell
If you have a business, then you have something to say, usually in the form of expertise, though if you can add your own perspective, even better. Write articles, record audios, or demonstrate something in a video.
Do one or do all, it doesn’t matter. The key is to focus on what comes easy to you, at least in the beginning.
Then spread the good stuff around on your blog, social media, white papers or YouTube. Fleeting as information may seem online, recording your knowledge in this way permits it live on and boost your profile indefinitely.
Articles I wrote 5 years ago are still getting hits!
2. Copy and paste, literally
If you’re saying the same stuff over and over again in your emails or project proposals, start templating.
So if lots of people are inquiring about a particular service you offer, write an email response and save it in your Drafts folder.
Then tweak as needed for individual replies. If you find yourself proposing a service package that could be useful to others in your market, save the proposal and re-purpose it as a new offer on your website.
Of course, use templates for your proposals too. No need to go digging for testimonials or rewrite your corporate profile every time.
3. Ask for help
As obvious as this one sounds, I’m amazed at how many small business owners still wear all the hats.
From copywriting to client support to contract administration to website maintenance, there are more than enough qualified people out there who can take these tasks off your plate.
If you’re on a tight budget, build this help into your support strategy incrementally over time. In fact, this method can be preferable, allowing you to hone your delegation skills and acclimate to a team environment.
Even 5 or 10 hours a month from a virtual assistant can make a huge difference in your ability to focus on what matters most to your business growth.
4. Stick to a schedule
This can apply to anything you do in your business on a periodic basis; it’s especially helpful for the things you SHOULD be doing regularly but are not.
For example, if you publish a newsletter, try hard to publish it on the same day each week, consistently.
If Thursday comes and you were supposed to send out your newsletter Wednesday, work an extra hour and publish it a day late.
Why? Because sticking to a schedule–for bookkeeping or publishing or sending out proposals–makes running your business a habit that you do almost without thinking, in turn requiring less effort and foot dragging by you and everyone else who either works with you or might buy from you.
It also builds creative and intellectual equity in your business that you can, you guessed it, leverage for growth later.
5. Showcase your wins, shamelessly
When you get a great testimonial from a client, don’t just post it once on your website. Use it strategically to support sales.
For example, you may have a Testimonials page, but why not display one or two on a sales page? Don’t overlook twitter, Facebook and those unsolicited emails from clients and colleagues that contain raves about something fab you did.
Reply immediately and request permission to use that commentary as a testimonial. (Always explain you will credit the person appropriately, including their name, URL and/or business name in the testimonial). Sometimes the person will offer to elaborate and write you an even better testimonial …. HELLO!
6. Focus on the people who already know you
We all want a bigger list, more followers on twitter, and a zillion friends on Facebook. What we fail to see though are the conversion opportunities closest to us.
Look at all the people in your circle of influence, online and offline. Then ask: What do they really want? And have I truly made an effort to give it to them?
Remember, you need to get in front of and STAY in front of your people consistently before sales happen.
A successful campaign takes time and repetition. Leverage the buying potential that’s all around you, and do it with conviction and commitment.
You might be surprised by the results. Not to mention that attending to your people in this focused manner increases the likelihood that they will remember and SHARE your message. (Gee! Even MORE leverage!)
7. Reformat and repackage
Chances are you have one or two offerings that could be either expanded upon (and sell at a higher price point) or simplified (and sell at a lower price point).
For example, while my web copywriting services are in high demand, not everyone can afford to pay my fees.
Why leave that money on the table? I can leverage both my expertise and my sales funnel by teaching a course on copywriting or selling an eBook.
At the other end of the pricing spectrum, I can offer comprehensive coaching programs for business owners who want to really master their marketing. No reinventing the wheel here!
No matter what you’re doing in your business for leverage, it’s critical to start documenting your processes and procedures in a Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) manual.
A virtual assistant can help you with this, or you can start writing things down in a Word document as they come up.
It doesn’t have to be a complicated thing, but if you’re not documenting how you get things done in your business, you’ll find yourself explaining the same processes again and again to your team, your clients, and your JV partners. Big waste of time.
These 8 tactics give you a taste of how powerful leverage can be.
Of course, when starting out with any of these activities you’ll have days where it feels like too much work or hassle, but know that you are building a house of stone that will shelter you and your people again and again.
Over time, you’ll see more and more opportunities to leverage your business until eventually you are doing minimal work for maximum revenues, and savoring every single minute of it.
What ways are you leveraging your business that I’ve left out here? Have you tried any of the above tactics? How did they help you succeed more readily in your biz? Leave a comment below.