Maximize your leverage Featured

8:00pm EDT October 26, 2010

In today’s world, leverage is everything. You have to take advantage of every opportunity you can, because you never know when a small investment will turn into a big payout. Margins are really thin, and the competition is tougher than ever. The days of “business as usual” are gone forever.

If you aren’t finding ways of leveraging your people, your brand, your locations and your products, you probably won’t be around much longer. If you think of every contact as a dot, you need to be connecting those dots, not collecting them. What I mean by this is look at ways you can serve as an intermediary between those points. In some cases, there will be a direct business benefit for you. In other cases, you are simply making a connection that will benefit someone else. When you meet someone new, think about ways you can connect that person with others so that both parties benefit. When you come across a new product or service, don’t just think about how it can benefit your company but think about how it might benefit other CEOs. When you operate this way, you start making positive connections and people remember that. In the long run, hopefully they will remember you when they come across something that might help you out.

You are at the top of the organization and are probably used to thinking like this. But to maximize your leverage, you need to do everything you can to make sure those below you are doing it, too. Some people may not be as comfortable making the personal connections, so you should focus them on products. What are ways you can leverage your existing products in new ways? What are potential new products? How can you leverage your brand to create new revenue streams?

One example of a company that does this well is Sunkist. Not only does Sunkist provide fresh citrus fruit, the company also has the brand on more than 600 products in more than 45 countries. You’ll find the Sunkist moniker on everything from fruit juice to vitamins to orange soda. The company has found new ways to take its existing brand and apply it to products that still relate to its core, fresh fruit.

An effort like this isn’t coming from just the CEO. It’s something the entire organization embraces. The only way for you to achieve similar results is to make it a companywide effort, as well. It starts with a passion for knowing it’s the right thing for your company. When you exhibit that passion, it’s contagious, and others will follow. But you can’t stop there. You need to convey that passion as part of your vision for where the organization is going. When you combine your passion and vision and demonstrate that behavior, the attitude will start to be ingrained into your culture. When that happens, you are more likely to find the success that Sunkist has found in leveraging its brand.

But it all starts with your mindset. A lot of people talk about it, but few actually do it. The time to start is now. The next person you meet, think about not only how his or her talent or business can benefit your company, but think about how it might benefit other people you know. Find ways to cross-market not only your business but your peers, as well.

Start connecting those dots today, and you’ll see a stronger bottom line tomorrow.