Give me a lever long enough…

Undoubtedly you’re familiar with Archimedes famous quote:

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

If you’ve studied any physics, then you know Archimedes is talking about the concept of leverage, which essentially means that through the proper use of tools you can do a lot more than you could through straight brute force methods.

It’s an important concept in physics and baseline for a lot of engineering principles, but for a small business owner, it can likely mean the difference between long term success or exhaustion and failure!

Leverage for Business

What is leverage for a small business owner?  You first have to recognize that most small businesses operate with the business owner involved in every significant role and decision.  There may be 5 employees, 10 employees or even 50 employees, but everything flows back through the owner.  That’s a great approach for making things consistent, but there are only so many hours in the day and ultimately the owner’s time and focus become the major constraint on the business.

Leverage, for a small business owner, is implementing people, processes and automation that effectively remove the owner from the day to day operations.  With leverage, the business is open for growth and can scale, without leverage it’s destined to choke.  The more growth there is, the harder it is to run.

Here’s an illustration that might make this a little clearer:


Strategically using leverage (streamlining processes, automating, delegating, etc.) takes more effort up front (think of it as training, learning curve, implementation time) but really kicks in as volume continues.

An example of leverage would be automating the delivery of a key part of your product or service…once it’s automated (which likely costs money and takes time to set up) you will stop spending time and effort…without that automation, you continue to do more and more as your volume grows.

A client of ours recently implemented an online application form for prospective clients to fill out.  Once the form was populated, the system automatically processed about 80% of the information, leaving just a few things for the team to track down to see if the potential client was a qualified fit.  The previous approach was a completely manual process, involving multiple phone calls, lots of redundant research and a lot more time and effort for each application.  Our client is finding it much easier to grow and manage things with this new approach…!

Are you using leverage in your business?  What could you delegate, automate or systematize?  You don’t have to do everything at once (in fact you shouldn’t try), but even a small bit of leverage over time can make a big difference.  Share your thoughts in the comments below – I’d love to hear them.

Shawn Kinkade  Kansas City Business Coach

4 thoughts on “Give me a lever long enough…”

  1. Shawn,

    Decisions that are grounded in fundamental laws, principles and mechanisms seem to be ALWAYS resonant. It’s so much easier to work “within” reality as opposed to outside of it.

    We could all use help, though, with reminders of what works and what doesn’t. What do you do with a client who, for all intents and purposes, seem to continually flap their arms with the idea that someday they will fly?

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  3. Trisha – happy to have you ‘leverage’ my content. Thanks for finding me and asking.


  4. Asif says:

    Its great to see a place where knowledge is shared for what it is and i couldnt agree more, though i firmly believe that growing companies are based on strong foundations that have a great working chemistry with a huge reserve for self correction.

    I suppose that we are in an age that now we actually have defined and refined certain ways in which companies can run to benefit and grow with sustainability. If we are aware that the shortest distance between 2 points is a straight line, then should we not look at that is relative to the needs of the business, removing redundancies that cost money and allowing sustainable development.

    A great site, thank you

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