Gina Reinhart once famously said “There is no monopoly on becoming a millionaire... spend less time drinking, or smoking and socialising and more time working.” For the millions of small businesses who work endless hours, late nights and weekends over many years (i.e. about as hard as you can work), her quote doesn’t really ring true. In fact, for most business owners, when business gets harder, they just work harder and longer, a strategy I have used myself. My conclusion: hard work is not enough to grow a business beyond small.

Don’t get me wrong, hard work is an important component of success for most businesses. However, a business owner has limited hours, thinly spread skills and squeezed budgets. All of this puts a ceiling on how much value the business owner can generate for the business when they are doing it all themselves; they are not able to work strategically whilst being sucked back into operations. It’s a vicious cycle that is not short-circuited by simply working harder.

Breaking the cycle to take the business up a level takes courage and a new mindset, but over time the transition is possible. Bigger businesses and celebrity business owners love to talk about themselves and spruik their success – but they didn’t do it on their own, even if they did start in their garage.

Leverage is the approach needed to get more from all parts of your business (without having to do it all yourself). It’s all about generating more value by utilising other resources to magnify your efforts and strategic decisions. Taking the step up, creating a more substantial income will take a bigger mindset. Here are some of the opportunities you can leverage from your business without driving yourself to exhaustion.

Team. The obvious way to get more from your efforts, is to have team members perform part of the workload. This is a whole discipline unto itself but is essential to having a bigger business. It doesn’t have to be employees either; contracted suppliers, bookkeepers, external suppliers, experts and consultants can really help.

Networks are a goldmine of new business opportunities, advice, suppliers and methods to improve your business. They may have team members that can help you out when needed too. Keep your networks healthy.

Finance is essential to getting more leverage. As you move in steps to build better systems into your business, investments are needed. Explore your options so you have the finances to fund growth when you need it.

Systems are a vital part of bigger businesses and the true basis for scaling up; the business becomes a machine that can be more automated so the business owner doesn’t have to break rocks themselves. All industries have technologies that make business management easier.

Not everyone wants a bigger business, with many owners happily working at their own pace. But for those of us wanting to take it up a notch, getting up the next step can be hard, so it’s easy to just stay where you are. Leverage is the only way to make that jump. Many of us are control freaks and scared of bigger costs, so jump in steps that you are comfortable with.

Riding a bike is much easier and faster with 20 gears than with one.

By: Warren Harmer