Being in two places at a time is simply impossible. But knowing how to leverage yourself will empower you to do more for yourself and your business.
What if you could produce x3-x10 results without spending extra time and grinding harder?
In this article, you’ll discover ways to leverage yourself to do more for your business.
Our primary goal here is to help you step into a leverage mindset. The increase in output will inevitably follow.
Leverage is simply increasing output per hour of your time. Hence leverage can be accomplished in more than one way.
A salesperson equipped with a powerful CRM may cut down his time following up to 1/4. And thus will be significantly more productive through software.
That same salesperson could get an assistant to run the CRM for him and free up his time to be on calls instead of managing contacts. Extra productivity gained by delegation.
Lastly, the salesperson could invest in expensive prospecting software, so he reached out to more qualified prospects. This would increase his close rates.
There are three types of leverage: systems, people, and money. Some types of leverage will give you a higher output than others. We explore those in detail in our Leverage Principles and Hierarchy article.
The formula to build leverage:
Do MORE of what drives a high output.
Do LESS of drives low output.
We shall get rid of all activities that have a marginal impact on the desired outcome. And we should do more of what drives results.
Having no clearly defined focus leads to doing many things and accomplishing little.
Focus on the company level means that we know the impact we want to make in the world. That focus guides teams toward a unified vision.
Focus within departments allows individuals to grasp the relationship among different parts of the organization.
Individual focus informs specific activities that move the needle and make us successful at our job function.
This is what you call the Queen Bee Role, as explained in Michael Michalowicz’s latest book, Clockwork.
To illustrate it, picture a Queen Bee, whose only task is to reproduce and birth new worker and soldier bees to sustain the beehive. If you make her do other things, she will lose her focus, and her production will be greatly affected, thus creating an imbalance in the beehive. If she is gone, the whole beehive will be paralyzed.
A queen bee specializes in one area where she can contribute the most.
As a business owner, you have to focus on your business’ Queen Bee Role. What are the areas where you can contribute the most?
More often than not, individuals on the team do not have clarity as to what their performance is measured by.
The performance of salespeople, for example, is easy to measure - by the number of sales. The performance of marketing can be measured by the number of leads etc.
If you don’t have a success metric, you won’t be able to tell which activities you should prioritize over the others.
Here are some common QBRs for different roles:
Your company, each department within it, and every employee need to know the key focus areas.
It is your responsibility as a leader to guard the Queen Bee Roles.
Once you establish your key focus areas that drive output, the next step is to measure how different activities drive results.
Not every activity is created equal!
Example of marketing activities:
*QL = qualified leads
Reprioritize activities that give you higher output per hour. You shall pick the low hanging fruits first and then move on to those a bit higher. Just by picking the RIGHT activities, you will leverage yourself. No optimization or doing more work needed.
A really powerful metric for entrepreneurs in particular, is their effective hourly rate. Because founders are often involved in many activities all across the company, it's challenging to measure their output in monetary terms. How much is culture worth for instance?
As a result, entrepreneurs often do not realize that they are wasting their potential doing low output activities.
One of our clients realized that he spent 10h on the service responsible for just 5% of his profits.
As a founder, he brings home close to a million bucks annually. So his hourly effective rate is $500/h ($1,000,000 / 50 weeks / 40 hours). Thus, it costs him 10h x $500 = $5,000 of his time assisting in fulfilling the service.
Profit from executing this service is much lower than his effective hourly rate. And although we could have found ways to reduce his time investment, it’d make a marginal difference.
Once the client realized that he is “losing” money by offering that service, he instantly dropped the offering.
Knowing your hourly effectiveness (output or cost) will allow you to make stronger strategic decisions.
Writing down all of the activities you do in a day is one of the most impactful exercises for our clients.
Most of them get surprised by where their time ACTUALLY goes.
You can take a step further and determine how much revenue each activity creates per hour or how much it’d cost if you were to delegate it to a freelancer.
Entrepreneurs’ most crucial early hire is often an assistant. Hiring an assistant will take off many activities of your plate so that you can focus on your QBR. Since drafting proposals or doing admin work may be required for the business operates, it’s often YOU who does them. You didn’t really sign up for those jobs, but it’s you get them on your desk at the end of the day.
Delegation and outsourcing are not reserved just for company leaders. Everyone in an organization should also consider reducing low-value activities. More often than not, those low-value activities are also the least satisfying making your employees resent work.
McKinsey, the leading management consultancy, provides one personal assistant for four consultants to do whatever needs to be done ranging from inbox management to buying flowers for the spouses.
After analyzing our time / output sheet, you may identify the activities that consume a lot of time and focus. In the next section, you will learn about four things you can do about low output per hour activities.
Not all leverage is created equal. Systems leverage can create infinite output, whereas labor leverage has its natural limitations.
As we have discussed in our Leveraging Principles and Hierarchy article, there is a process to maximizing leverage.
The first thing you have to do is identify low output activities and eliminate them for good.
Interestingly, “not doing” is not the only way to eliminate. But elimination can also be accomplished by resolving problems for the long term.
For example, you may prepay your phone bill for the entire year instead of paying for a month. Consequently, you will eliminate 11 other times when you’d need to do it.
You may then automate activities. You may use software to automate tasks that don’t require much judgment. Alternatively, you can automate entire business functions by outsourcing to agencies.
If you can’t do either of the first two things (elimination or automation), you shall consider optimizing processes to become more efficient.
For example, you have observed that your managers spend too much time communicating with clients. After doing some digging, it turns out that most of the conversations are about collecting information about the customer. As a result, you may create a questionnaire that the client fills out independently. The manager would only need to do a short check-in call, in case he needs further clarification.
If further optimization is impossible, you shall consider if it makes sense to delegate the task.
At this stage, you will be delegating a task that is important (you couldn’t eliminate it), requires human input (you couldn’t automate it), and is efficient (you optimize it).
Delegation is the last area that we focus on because delegation has its overhead, and its scalability is limited.
One of our clients who runs a design studio wanted to reduce his work IN the business from 30 to 15. We did the timesheet exercise to understand his baseline.
As an experiment, the client limited his time to 3h/day for the operational functions. He created a 3h time block in his calendar dedicated solely to those activities.
Parkinson’s Law states that "work expands to fill the time available for its completion.”
The very first week of this exercise, this client got everything done in half the time. It was that simple.
Identify activities that you are unwilling to do given your role at the company (QBRs). Boundaries force us to think in non-standard ways. Embrace them!
Information is an outstanding, yet often forgotten, way to get results faster.
If you are stuck, lacking expertise or feel like you are living potential on the table, it may be wise to bring on experts who can help overcome the challenges.
Instead of trial and error to find your solution, consultants can address your problem and offer solutions that work, given that they’ve done this hundreds of times before.
Additionally, you can leverage your own knowledge by investing in your people. Training employees improves their skills and consequently their output. Not only will they increase in their performance, but employees are also likely to stick around for longer and take leadership to grow your business.
As defined by Marie LaCroix, Cognitive load is the cost to process information for an individual. Your working memory’s capacity to carry out tasks is limited.
The more things you have to keep in your head, the worse your decisions will be. High cognitive load happens regularly when trying to grasp more information than your working memory can handle.
Cognitive Overload happens when we expose ourselves to a highly stimulating environment, where you have to process a constant stream of information. This puts our brains in a lot of stress.
To bring cognitive balance to their employees, Google and Facebook have gyms, free lunches, and free transportation. This eliminates the stress in their employees of continually worrying about what to eat and how to get around.
The result? Their output is generally high because fewer “distractions” occupy employees’ minds and thus they can focus better.
Reducing friction and cognitive load is a certainly unusual way to increase performance. It works exceptionally well!
Try using the leverage hierarchy for your personal life and see how that affects your professional performance.
Leveraging yourself is a skill that one can acquire through practice. Time is a precious resource that we must invest into activities that yield higher output.
You can use leverage hierarchy as a guide to maximizing what you can do with leveraging systems, people and capital.
At Operations Mastery, our mission is to empower leaders to do more of what they love and to live in their zone of genius.
We help streamline businesses, uncap growth potential and build leverage in your company, so that it can grow faster than ever. Contact us to learn how we can help you succeed.