Five Business Control Levers


“Give me a lever and a place to stand and I will move the earth” Archimedes

I saw it plain as day when I was preparing my old business for sale. My husband had died and I’d been left with a business that turned over truckloads of cash, but it was choking in supplier debt. My late husband and I had started out selling Kirby vacuum cleaners door to door, and nearly two decades years later I had been left with VacuumSpot, a website that sold vacuum cleaner spare parts. It was a great online business! No-one wants to go shopping for the perfect vacuum cleaner bag! It was a fabulous business, but I had to find solutions fast if I was going to be able to clear the debt and sell this operation to launch into my own new beginnings.

Every business has levers that can be pressed in a relatively simple, straightforward way to create a corresponding gain.

At first it was chaos. Despite receiving orders automatically through our website, we did most of the work to fill those orders and manage the rest of the business manually. As I slowly transformed this operation into something that would work on it’s own, I realised that my efforts in certain areas acted as levers, where strategically pressing on one part of the business would create corresponding results in related areas. These levers are universal in business, so these principles I learned in my own situation will apply regardless of your size, your industry, or your mode of operation.

  1. Business Processes: Leverage your routines to increase your efficiency

When businesses increase their output OR decrease the time it costs to produce this output, improvements in workplace efficiency will result. If the business can do BOTH at the same time, they are on a fast track to greater productivity, profits and staff engagement. Refining our daily workplace processes is a business lever that is often overlooked and yet it can yield the greatest results for the smallest investment. Examine your daily business processes with a fine tooth comb to eradicate time being wasted in confusion over what to do next, distraction from external sources, roadblocks of broken equipment, and the frustration of ineffective systems and procedures. Make your workplace work!

2. Pricing: Leverage your ticket pricing to increase the dollar value of your sales

So often in business we can become so mesmerised by turnover that we forget the greater benefits of profitability. The wise business owner will know that you are far better to sell three widgets easily at $40, than you are to slog it out to sell ten widgets at $20. Even though there is less cash in the till at the end of the day, you have worked significantly less to get those three sales, and there is greater business resource left to sell more widgets at the higher price. Take a good hard look at your pricing structures and find those lines that could serve you better with an incremental price rise right now. If you are like me you will spend hours poring over your pricing rules to screw down the most profitable pricing structure possible. If you get it right you will increase the average amount your clients spend with you without spending extra on advertising or serving more customers or filling more orders.

3. Advertising: Leverage your message to increase your the volume of returns

Having a strong, targeted business message is paramount to the success of your advertising efforts. It is not enough to simply sell your products. You need to have a crystal clear idea of what you do and who you do it for. Having certainty around these core aspects of your business identity will not only determine your business offering and your pricing, but it will shine a light forward for you with the types of offerings you develop, advertisements you create, campaigns you run, platforms you advertise from, times you run your advertising campaigns, and calls to action that you provide for your client to respond to your ads. You need the focus and precision of a highly trained assassin to leverage your advertising towards business growth.

4. Networking: Leverage your circles to increase the quality of your business connections

We’ve all heard it before. Jim Rohn says you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. It’s amazing how much we know this, and yet we still find ourselves trapped at the wrong tables, attending the wrong events, and stuck in conversations that are going nowhere fast. For you to make the most of your networks, the people you invest your time into should have the potential to be your closest friends, most supportive mentors, your biggest clients, your best suppliers, your most valued service providers. I cannot emphasise enough how much difference it makes to our business outcomes when we commit to being shrewd in our relationships. Not lacking in warmth or authenticity, but acting like it makes a difference to have quality connections. Because it does!

5. Staffing: Leverage your training and development to increase your productivity and retention

As the owner of your business it is your responsibility to ensure your staff have everything they need to maintain focus, productivity and engagement at work. They need to know what their job is, how to do this job, and what that job looks like when it has been successfully completed. They need to have a sense of pride and ownership in their work so they experience some kind of reward when they have done the job well. For you as their boss, this means providing instructions that are without ambiguity, and then releasing your staff to autonomy in following those instructions. Performance should be reviewed regularly and accountability measures must be built into the process of completing the job. It’s hard to say which is more frustrating for your staff: Being micromanaged to the point of suffocation, or being given so much rope that they end up hanging themselves on your absence of leadership. Management is a fine art to master, but it’s a lever that is proven to create game changing outcomes if it is pressed in just the right way.


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