Enhance Productivity and Efficiency with Stephen’s Innovation Insights

Innovation Insights by Stephen Shapiro

Sometimes the best strategy is to give someone a slice of your business….

Do you ever feel as though you never have enough time, money, or resources to make your business as successful as you know it could be? As a small-business owner myself, I struggle with this dilemma frequently.

Although I could take out business loans and hire employees or contractors, I would rather not take on the extra burden of having people to manage and additional bills to pay. A solution to this conundrum comes from an expression I heard many years back while speaking in Malaysia:

Before you can multiply, you must first learn to divide.

This simple expression has become a mantra of mine when it comes to scaling my business.
The idea is that if you want to grow (multiply) your business, you must learn to partner with others and give them a slice (divide). This means you take a smaller slice of a bigger pie. The added advantage is this philosophy allows you, the business owner, to focus on what matters most and what you do best. Partner with others for nearly everything else.

In my role as a professional speaker, “dividing” is a standard arrangement with speakers bureaus. They take a percentage of my speaking fee in exchange for handling everything from negotiating, contracting, logistics, travel, and invoicing. In the long run, I make more money through this arrangement while working less. They do what they do best (selling and client relationship) and I do what I do best (speaking).

I’ve used this model several times to develop products and services that I otherwise would not have created.

As an example, I partnered with a training company that has expertise in instructional design, in-person training delivery, and sales. Leveraging my books, videos, and other materials, they developed a two-day seminar that they sold and delivered. This required no financial investment on my part, and minimal upfront time investment. They did all of the heavy lifting and I received a percentage of their fee anytime they ran a session.

Invisible Solutions Another example: I wanted an e-learning course based on my materials, but I didn’t want to spend the time and money to develop and sell it. Therefore, I partnered with a company that had expertise in this. I went into a recording studio and shot a bunch of videos. They did the instructional design, created the graphics, built the system, managed the platform, and made all of the sales. Again, it cost me nothing and I received a fee anytime the course was sold.

I am using this concept for my next book, Invisible Solutions. I wanted to create a set of sophisticated tools that could enhance the value of the book. If I paid someone to do this, it would cost a lot of money. And, most likely, they would only develop the system. I would need to deal with managing the platform and addressing customer service issues. Instead, I decided to partner with someone who agreed to develop the tools, handle subscriptions, keep the system updated, and provide customer support as needed. No upfront money. He does most of the design work. In exchange, he takes a percentage of the money we collect.

The Big IdeaYou can even apply this concept with your employees. When I was on CNBC’s The Big Idea With Donny Deutsch, a caller asked, “I am the owner of a business. How do I retain my top talent?” Donny asked what percentage of the business he owned. The caller said 100 percent. Donny’s response was that he was wrong, since as of today, the caller should own 80 percent. Donny told the caller to go into the office of his top 10 people and tell them that they are now partners in the business by giving them 2 percent each. Therefore, they will have a greater sense of ownership. I love this advice.

So ask yourself, where can you multiply by first dividing? Where can you give a slice of your business to someone else? How can you grow your business while creating more income for others?

A variation of this article originally appeared on the Inc. website

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