Alexander the Great wasn’t as great as people give him credit for. His father had paved the way for his “greatness” by conquering most of Greece and building a sophisticated military. Alexander took the reins of a chariot that was already in motion.

Similarly, the Persian emperor Darius “The Great,” didn’t build his Persian empire but won it by assassinating the monarch and assuming power with the support of a few nobles. Like Alexander, he took something already established and used it to conquer even more countries.

My sister-in-law works at a family-controlled commercial construction company that will cross a billion dollars in revenue in the next two years. The wealthy CEO is the grandson of the founder and assumed control of a company that was already making hundreds of millions of dollars.

On a small business level, one of my friends, Adam, owns the largest compounding pharmacy in Oregon. He didn’t assassinate anyone or inherit ownership. On the contrary, he was a broke college student when he bought it. How he acquired it is a great story, but that’s for another post. The short version is that Adam used owner financing to get around being penniless.

When Adam and his wife became owners it wasn’t the regional powerhouse it is today. It was just a normal compounding pharmacy in the suburbs of Portland. But like ancient Macedonia, Persia, or the modern day construction firm it was established. Adam started with something that already worked, optimized it, and then used it as a platform to acquire two other pharmacies.

If you’re looking for rapid growth that expands your impact, it’s hard to beat acquiring another business.

We have a bias towards growing things ourselves and have misconceptions about what it takes to buy other businesses. As a result, there are big opportunities that go overlooked. If you want to grow to another level of scale, it’s worth considering what sort of business you might acquire to leap ahead.

“What is rooted is easy to nourish…” – Tao Te Ching 64

More on cheating time: Snowballs & Avoiding the Left Side

The featured image is of the assassination of Alexander’s father Philip by his bodyguard. By Ellis, Edward Sylvester, 1840-1916; Horne, Charles F. (Charles Francis), 1870-1942 – The story of the greatest nations, from the dawn of history to the twentieth century, used under Public Domain