A fulcrum is the point on which a lever rests or is supported and on which it pivots.

As small business owners, we wear all sorts of different hats — technician, salesperson, operations manager, and accountant. The daily grind of all these roles is exhausting and leads most entrepreneurs to burn out. The last thing we need to fight this fatigue is more hussle. What we need is to learn how to utilize leverage points to reach the next plateau of growth. A fulcrum is a lever that allows our business to pivot to the next level. Each level requires learning, personal growth, and focus around a different type of fulcrum.

My Disaster Story of Leverage

When you hear the word leverage, many of us immediately think of money. If I have a loan, I’m leveraged. While money is one type of leverage, when you don’t truly understand the underlining mechanisms that allow you to use this type of leverage to your advantage, you could quickly find yourself in financial ruin.

It was 2008 and I was holding onto my business for dear life. A few years earlier I had started selling websites and programming services. We won some larger contracts so we took a risk and hired 3 employees and moved into a nice office space. Then the recession hit and immediately companies stopped spending money on technology. All of the sudden, my wife and I were putting thousands into the business each month to try to stay afloat. Before I knew it we had blown through all our savings and had $80k in debt. We made the tough decision to lay-off our employees, downsize our office and cut every expense we could. I thought about getting a second job to pay the bills but instead decided to work the second job in my company. I started to focus on selling during the day and then I would program at night.

We ended up working out of the debt and avoided bankruptcy, but I had clearly not understood how to use leverage. There were some underlining principles that it would take me more than a decade to learn.

Types of Fulcrums

Over the years since my near financial disaster, I have learned just a bit about the principles of leverage. These core principles of leverage must be learned and applied first. Once mastered, then you can then apply other types of leverage like capital to make growth scale faster.

There are four categories of leverage:

  • Expertise – Leveraging problem-solving. This type of leverage is learning about your customer and asking questions to better understand where they want to go and how to get them there.
  • Marketing – Leveraging communication. This type of leverage is learning to tell the stories you have learned from your expertise in a way that earns trust with new customers.
  • Management – Leveraging systems. This type of leverage is learning to create and oversee the processes that are needed to scale the product or service you are providing to your customer.
  • Leadership – Leveraging teams. This type of leverage is learning to care for, recruit and train people that can work within a team that knows how to take care of the customer.

I’m sure there are super business owners that can muster the energy to learn these pivot points on their own. For the rest of us, we need relationships. Human interaction that can provide encouragement, teaching and accountability.

Here is to the rest of us. The super entrepreneurs in training… that are willing to admit we haven’t arrived yet and are willing to ask for a little help along the way. The business owners that know either experientially or instinctively that what they are doing right now won’t scale. That know the only way forward is learning to use the leverage that only a fulcrum will provide.

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