"What would you do if there were two of you?"
It's a question I've been asking entrepreneurs. Some of them say they'd spend more time with their family. Others have big projects they'd like to act on in their business or some another aspect of life. Whatever their answer, it goes right to the core of their values. It opens them up to fantasize a bit.
Now what if I told you that whatever you answered is entirely possible, and that it won't take technology from a sci-fi novel to get you there?
Although we don't have the capability to clone ourselves physically, we can multiply our capabilities and our results many times over by identifying and focusing on multipliers.
What's a multiplier?
A multiplier is a technology, idea, structure or method that multiplies our capabilities and the results we get. We're surrounded by multipliers in the 21st century. ( Click here to watch a video of Mr. Sullivan talking about key multipliers.)
Technology, used well, can be a very effective multiplier. Communications and calculations that used to take days or weeks can happen in fractions of a second. Businesses that know how to harness the upside of technology without getting bogged down in its complexity can now reach exponentially larger numbers of clients and customers than ever before, with fewer resources.
Effective teamwork is another kind of multiplier that can dramatically increase the results of any business. When you have team members whose abilities and passions complement one another working toward a common set of goals, the multiplier effect can be extremely powerful. Delegating everything but what you're best at that brings in the biggest results for the business can multiply your productivity and income dramatically, leaving room for those things on your "what-if-there-were-two-of-me" list.
These are obvious multipliers, but we're surrounded by countless others, if we could only train ourselves to recognize them and make them work for us. And it doesn't have to be a huge investment, especially if we tap into the knowledge and networks of those who'd like to see us succeed, like our best clients and customers. I once challenged a client to use a portion of the budget he'd allocated for marketing to new prospects to take his best customers out for lunch or dinner over the course of a quarter. Just by making connections he already had, asking for new business and referrals, he exceeded his goal for new revenue, and he didn't come close to spending his budget.
The examples I've given are of multipliers that are within our control. There are also plenty of multipliers we take advantage of that we don't control. In the mid-1990s, my company, which earns the bulk of its revenue in the United States and makes most of its expenditures in Canada, saw a big multiplier effect from the favourable U.S. dollar exchange rate. Every dollar we earned south of the border was instantly worth at least $1.50. These days, that multiplier no longer exists.
Multipliers we don't control can be great boosts to business, but if we rely on them too much, it hurts when they disappear. I've heard a lot of people complain bitterly over the years about losing multipliers they had come to rely on because of changing economic conditions, regulation, government policy, competition, new technologies and a host of other unpredictable, uncontrollable circumstances.
As an entrepreneur, if you want to insulate yourself from unpredictable changes, you need to focus on identifying multipliers that are within your control. By doing this, you stay ahead of the game - even if the world takes one away, you've got something else, or maybe two or three things you've been working on to replace it. Even bad news contains the seeds of multipliers. The failure of big organizations and the breakdown of industries provides lots of opportunities for entrepreneurial innovation to step in and provide the products, services, and experiences that people really want. Some of my clients have had their best years ever in this recent economic downturn because they had identified and leveraged enough multipliers that they were growing and even picking up business from failed competitors.
So coming back to you multiplying yourself, or "you times two," imagine you are earning twice as much in half the time it takes you now. Perhaps in 10 years, your company will be 10 times the size it is now in terms of revenue, and your life will be simpler and more focused than it is today. This is possible if you adopt a multiplier mindset, always looking for how to multiply productivity, leverage, and results in any situation. I've seen thousands of entrepreneurs from more than 60 industries do it.
Special to The Globe and Mail
Dan Sullivan is president of Strategic Coach Inc. , and he has more than 35 years of experience as a speaker, consultant, strategic planner, and coach to entrepreneurial individuals and groups. He is also the author of more than 30 publications. For his insights on how to find the multipliers in your business, visit his blog.
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