Creative leverage can mean profits while debt – what some might call “leverage” – increases small business risk significantly. You don’t profit by becoming a “debt slave.” So, don’t buy into the concept of leverage as making debt work for you. Instead try out these ideas for creative leverage and tailor them to work for your business.
- Leverage your time. Time is one asset you can use to your advantage. If your business is a service business, for example, there are only so many hours you can work. So, avoid being paid only for your time.
Instead, price the time to cover the cost of hiring or outsourcing the work. Or, in a family business, factor the time worked by family members against their future benefits from the success of the business.
- Leverage relationships. It is much easier and less costly to keep an existing customer than to find a new one. (In my business, alone, it costs 11 times as much to land a new customer, as it is to keep an existing customer relationship.)
So, ask yourself what other products and services you could bundle together to increase your sales per customer. Adding value to what you’re already doing would be to your advantage as well as the customer’s.
- Leverage your technology. Delegate work to specialized equipment or software. Thoroughly explore MS Office to see if you are using all its tools. Look to Google+ and Google Docs to conduct your business on The Cloud. Look into the use of virtual assistants or other virtual specialists.
Again, if time is your asset, free time up by delegating work and pricing your services to include this cost.
- Leverage underutilized assets. Cash reserves, for example, sit in the bank earning little or no interest. Ask your financial advisor how they might be better invested in property or equipment.
Or, consider your space. You might be able to rent unused space in your building or on your lot. You might even share equipment or personnel.
- Leverage your good credit. Goodwill and good credit are very real – though intangible – assets. The community at large has an interest in your success because of what it brings to the community. (Every dollar spent in the community spawns three dollars spent.) Parlay your presence into a local success story.
And, creditors and vendors – without your incurring any additional debt – have a stake in your success. They survive and grow with you. As a customer, you are fee to move your business, so press for maximum service and continued patronage.
It is my belief that debt is simply money owed, a burden to any business. To increase debt in pursuit of leverage is a mistake – a desperate move. It makes far more sense to leverage aspects of your performance directly linked to profits and your success.
by Steven Schlagel