by Nick Gromicko and Kate Tarasenko

If you want to seriously grow your business within the limited time frame of two years from now—an endpoint that’s virtually around the corner—but think that it’s absurd that you could actually quadruple it that quickly, you need look no further for mathematical proof of the possibility than the story of the wheat and the chessboard.

The Wheat and the Chessboard (or The Mathematician and the King)

When an Indian mathematician named Sissa created the game of chess at the end of the 5th century AD, he presented it as a gift to his king.  The king was so thrilled that he told Sissa to name his reward for the amazing gift—anything he had was his for the asking.  Sissa, perhaps in feigned modesty, asked the king merely for some wheat.  The king thought he was getting the better end of the deal by far and asked Sissa how much wheat, thinking this a meager and even insulting prize.  Sissa said that he would like to use the chessboard to count out his reward:  one grain of wheat on the first square, then doubled to two grains of wheat on the second square, and then doubled again to four grains of wheat on the next square, and so on, until all 64 squares of the chessboard were accounted for.  Amused, the king ordered his servant to retrieve a bushel of wheat to count out Sissa’s reward.

What the king didn’t realize until halfway through this exercise was that Sissa’s reward was becoming so enormous that the kingdom was in threat of losing its entire wheat stores, and more.  The king’s accountant pleaded for him to reverse his promise, explaining that, with 64 squares on the chessboard, and doubling the number of grains of wheat on each successive square (1 + 2 + 4 + 8, etc.), the total number of grains would equal 18,446,744,073,709,551,615—far more wheat than that held by the entire continent.

This story beautifully and simply illustrates the theory of exponential growth.

Of course, there are limits to growth at this pace, as the king quickly discovered.  And any inspector would balk at the notion of growing his or her business year after year after year, ad infinitum.  But you can do this, too.  You can grow your business exponentially.  It is possible to grow your business at a rate that you never thought possible and yet keep it manageable so that it doesn’t eclipse everything else in your life.  You can double your business next year, and you can quadruple it in two years.

Here’s How

Any inspector can do this, regardless of his or her current average number of inspections.  All you have to do is to get every past client to refer one inspection to you.  If you can get 100 referrals from 100 former clients, you will have effectively doubled your business.  During the second year, repeat what you did during your first year (having a larger base of past clientele), and so on.  This is exponential growth.

Putting the Plan into Play

The question now becomes:  How do I get my past clients to refer to me?

You can get your past clients to refer you using the following marketing strategies:

2. Offer each of your past clients an Annual Home Maintenance Inspection.  Especially if any of them is a recent first-time home buyer and in need of extra help figuring out the ins and outs of homeownership, this will effectively double your rate of inspections.  It’s a strategy that can be repeated year after year, on top of your new business.

Why Did Sissa the Mathematician Ask the King for Grains of Wheat?

The beleaguered ruler came to the conclusion that it would be less expensive to surrender his kingdom than to make good on his promise to Sissa.  And that’s what happened...  Sissa was crowned king.

The theory of exponential growth is profitable, indeed.