Work Smarter, Not Harder: The Power of Leverage


John Nieuwenburg

John Nieuwenburg has been a professional business coach since 2004. Prior to becoming a coach, he held executive positions with Tip Top Tailors and BC Liquor Stores. In 2019, MacKay CEO Forums awarded him with Canada’s CEO Trusted Advisor Award in the Small Business category. Since becoming a coach, John has worked with over 350 clients, taking them through a systematic process that helps them feel organized, confident and in control of their businesses.

Perhaps you are familiar with the following quote:

“Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it and I shall move the world.”

When Archimedes – the famous ancient Greek mathematician – said this, he wasn’t referring only to rolling boulders up hills. Or building great temples with brute force.

Instead, Archimedes had solved the puzzle of leverage.

He figured out how to get maximum results while exerting an appropriate amount of effort.

In a modern sense, how to work smarter…not harder!

Applying the wisdom of Archimedes to your small business

What does a Greek mathematician have to do with the world of business? That’s a good question.

Simply put, leverage is the key to success.

Leverage is a powerful force you can use to create a business that gives you, the owner, the life you want.

Allow me to explain.

What happens when we use leverage?

“Leverage” is a general term for any technique used to multiply gains and losses. By applying the concept and power of leverage, you can achieve a lot more in both your personal and business life.

This might look like:

  • Higher profits
  • More free time
  • Less stress
  • Better opportunities

What happens when we ignore leverage?

Without the power of leverage, your rewards are restricted to only the amount of work and energy you personally put into a task.

This is all fine and good, but without any leverage you must continue the expend the same amount of time and energy, just to keep producing the same results.

And as we all know, there are only 24 hours in a day.

Ignoring the power of leverage means hitting a ceiling, fast.

6 ways to work less and reap greater rewards by using the power of leverage

1. Leverage Through People

“I would rather earn 1% off 100 people’s efforts than 100% of my own efforts.” ~ J. Paul Getty

A great example of “people leverage” is Mary Kay. She built an empire by engaging the aspirations and energy of like-minded women.

Even if your business is currently a single person show, it pays to consider using other people as leverage.

One of the quickest ways to get leverage is by hiring a virtual assistant.

2. Leverage by Education

“Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.” – Jim Rohn

“If you want to go somewhere, it is best to find someone who has already been there.” -Robert Kiyosaki

This one is so important, I needed 2 quotes! 🙂

If you want a better business, first your business needs a better owner.

You don’t need to get an MBA to learn how to become a better business owner.

But you probably do need to learn some additional skills.

Why not learn from others? See their mistakes. Understand what went wrong. Then, leverage this knowledge to do better for yourself.

(PS – business coaching is a great way to shortcut the education process!)

3. Leveraging Technology

“One machine can do the work of fifty ordinary men.” – Elbert Hubbard

Technology moves at the speed of light, and this can be leveraged when running a business, too.

For instance, there is no reason you should have to tell a customer you didn’t get their email or voicemail when you were out of office. Nowadays, you can leverage mobile technology via a smartphone or tablet.

As I write this it’s October of 2023 and AI is the current trend.

Are you using chatgpt yet?

Ask yourself: How can computers, apps, software, and new tech benefit me?

4. Leveraging Systems

“Systems run the business, people run the systems, you lead the people.” ~ John Nieuwenburg

One definition of leverage is: divide to multiply.

Imagine a tree cutting. Gardeners take a cutting from one plant, but don’t end up with half a tree. Rather, they get two trees!

Franchising works the same way. Businesses can leverage their systems to multiply again and again and again.

McDonalds franchises are an excellent example of this type of leverage.

But even on a small scale – having systems that your staff can run without your input will give you additional leverage.

5. Leverage in Marketing

“The richest people in the world look for and build networks, everyone else looks for work.” – Robert Kiyosaki

Here is an interesting question…

Would you rather hunt like a leopard or hunt like a spider?

Leopards hunt only when hungry. Yet once they are fed, leopards will take their kill into a tree and rest on their gluttony. Leopards live a life of feast or famine!

Spiders on the other hand put all of their effort into building their web (or network). Once that’s done, they can wait while their food comes to them.

Businesses are no different. Put time into building a solid network to leverage marketing down the road.

6. Financial Leverage

Lastly, financial leverage refers to the use of debt to acquire additional assets.

When the financial crisis of 2007-2009 struck, many people blamed “excessive leverage.” Consumers borrowed gigantic amounts of money to support endless consumption. But this wasn’t leverage – not truly.

Only people who borrowed for investment, such as speculative house purchases or buying stocks, were using leverage in the real financial sense.

The Takeaway? Leverage allows you to do more with less.

At the end of the day, the term “leverage” simply refers to the ability to do more with less. All businesses can find ways to leverage their existing models.

Whether you want more money and free time (or just less stress!) leveraging can be a useful tool.

Want ideas on how to get started?

Book 15 minutes on my calendar to discuss options tailored specifically to you.

The Ultimate Guide to Scaling Your Business

w5 what does it mean to scale your business

How to grow your business without sacrificing time freedom

This post is part of my Ultimate Guide to Scaling Your Business. Visit the guide homepage to get my best advice and coaching exercises to help you:

  • Develop systems and processes to free up your time
  • Hire and manage a great team to run your business (mostly) without you
  • Make the mindset changes that enable you to grow your business bigger - faster than you dreamed possible