business growth, leadership, strategic

Balancing Act: 4 Tips to Become a Better Strategist and Improviser

As a leader of your business both strategizing and improvising are extremely valuable. It’s a balance between thinking deeply and having quick reflexes.

Yet if you lean too far into thinking strategically, good ideas don’t quickly get implemented and tested. Then YOU get stuck asking too many ‘what if…’ questions, and your business can lose momentum and become sluggish.

Then if you lean too far towards taking immediate action without thinking things through, YOU get too many activities going, things can become reckless, and you’re left cleaning up unintended messes.

Good business leaders know having a plan is a good idea, but they are also good at being able to adapt quickly.

The game of football is very strategic. Specific plays are called for specific situations. Yet once the ball is snapped and the quarterback sees the play isn’t going to work, the QB can make a quick decision to scramble and turn the play into a positive gain. It’s a classic example of strategy + improvisation that is needed to win the game.

Good leaders value having a plan, and they also understand the importance of being able to adapt quickly. As a business owner and leader YOU are are the quarterback of your team.

Yet from my experience, too many business owners don’t invest enough time into the plan, and rely too heavily on just rolling with what’s happening in real time.

Whether letting your business roll without much planning is reckless or not, the result is your business is not living up to your expectations or achieving its full potential.

Here are 4 tips towards being a better strategist AND improviser.

Create a plan but don’t fall in love with it.

Having a bulletproof plan is not the goal. Not having a plan at all is hoping for the best without a roadmap to get there. You must put in enough deep thought into a plan to guide you and your business, yet you must also remain nimble and humble. Be willing to make adjustments and listen to others input.

I recommend following the K.I.S.S. principle when it comes to planning. I write more about conquering business planning neglect here

Sometimes you’ll get lucky, now take advantage of it.

We know not everything goes as planned. And then there’s times when preparedness meets opportunity and you have to be ready to engage. Luck isn’t a strategy you can count on, but you can take advantage of it.

There’s nothing more lucky than winning the lottery. No skill is required. In business though luck appears at various times. I suggest you embrace it when it comes your way and think deeply about how you might extend it. Otherwise, I suggest you read my article here about embracing the grind of building your business with these tips.

Take the lead, but yield to others and listen.

You own the business and are the presumed leader, so naturally others will yield to you. Remaining open to others is difficult in your position, yet it’s one of the greatest assets of a good leader. Probe for other’s opinions and always acknowledge their contribution.

The topic of leadership is so vast. Most owners leading their business only know a fraction of what’s been written, and few put it into practice consistently. Read more as I discuss 4-ways to lead by following in my article here.

The buck stops here.

As the leader you’ve opened the door to feedback and suggestions, yet no business operates as a democracy. As the sole equity owner you assume the risk and benefits from every decision made for the business. Listen to others and explore options, but don’t procrastinate making key decisions for your business. 

Business ownership is a balance between deep thinking and quick reflexes. It’s a dance between the plan you have, and responding to the unexpected.

You can create a plan, grind it out daily, and yield to others when needed. Yet leading a business isn’t easy and nothing’s guaranteed. 

So instead of wishing for a lucky break, or wishing things were easier, how about you focus on making yourself a better leader of your business? Here are what I consider to be the 4 business building skills you need to transform your business. See if you might agree.

Be sure to Subscribe to my blog so you don’t miss articles as I unpack how to use The PACE Principle to become a better leader for your business.

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transformation for business growth
business growth, strategic

How You Need To Transform As A Business Owner

In Part 1 of A Supreme Transformation, you learned 5 business lessons that came out of my efforts in transforming a water ski boat I call the Supreme into a spectacular, vintage ski boat. As the story continues, I explore and share what I learned about myself through the process, and how it relates to business growth for your business.

A Supreme Transformation for Business Growth

As I see it, I decided to move forward on a project I didn’t know much about before I started. This meant it was on me to learn and try new things. Now that I'd completed the project, I realized I not only turned an ugly duckling into a swan, but I also learned new skills that will serve me in the future. (I’ve already put those skills to use. Over the winter, I restored the exterior beauty to our newer boat. And it took a lot less time the second go-round.)

This begs the question: How well do business owners transform themselves as their business matures and grows?

The skin of a boat is made of gelcoat. It’s a material that creates the shiny, high quality finish over the reinforced fiberglass shape of the boat. When brand new, a boat’s finish is like a mirror. After years of resting in the direct sun, it loses its shine and becomes milky white from oxidation. I made the commitment to bring it back. I was bound to bring the vision I had for it to reality.

In my experience, a business can lose its luster, too. A business that was once a shining star, can lose its shine over time when a business owner ignores maintenance.

I started renovating the Supreme by removing the old decals and the sticky residue the decals left behind. What I found underneath was a dark shade of gray. The contrast between the oxidized and non-oxidized gelcoat was like night and day. From that moment on, I knew this was going to be a process and not something I could hurry along and finish. Especially if I wanted a spectacular, shiny, vintage boat to show off at the lake.

There were no quick, easy fixes. And the same goes for projects and issues business owners face. With no quick, easy fixes in sight, a difficult decision looms. Is it worth the effort?

Putting Effort Into Your Business Growth

I’ve seen too many business owners steer away from projects in their business just because they perceive them as too difficult. These are projects that are needed and will help business growth. Yet what these owners are admitting is they don’t have the desire or the time to learn new things. Until that is, something in the business breaks. Now they are forced to fix something they knew was knocking, and needed maintenance. Instead of simply polishing a well-maintained business function, the owner now needs to take sandpaper to the issue.

Sandpaper is what I had to use on the boat to begin the removal of the milky white oxidation. It took wet-sanding by hand, using 400 grit sandpaper, to remove any shine the boat had left in order to get to the desired original color. It took many more passes around the boat using less abrasive sandpaper each time before a shine began to return to the gelcoat. After the final pass using 3000 grit sandpaper, I took several more passes around the Supreme using an electric polisher with a rubbing compound, and then a polishing compound. I applied several coats of wax to seal in the now mirror shine of the Supreme - an ugly duckling into a swan. 

Sometimes as a business owner, you’re going to need to roll up your sleeves and put in the dirty work for healthy business growth. 

In business you sometimes need to make unpopular decisions and create friction to initiate changes if your business is going to continue to achieve greater levels of precision and alignment.

One of the decisions I made early-on is that I wasn’t going to replace the decals with the original design. After putting in all the time and effort, I wanted to make it an original. I made it mine and chose to make a bold statement on this vintage ski boat. The final act of installing the decals was a cherished moment knowing what I had been through to complete this project. I took what was once a good boat, and I turned it into a great boat. 

Sometimes the greatest triumph of a business owner is knowing they put in the time and effort to turn a bad situation into something to be proud of. As the old saying goes, “business is a marathon, not a sprint”. Business breakthroughs form by owners working through the ups and downs of business, without giving into the temptations of quick fixes. 

What’s interesting is, I do this same process with businesses as well, except I don’t own the business. I guide owners through a process that transforms the business and the owner along the way. I cherish my role in helping an owner and their business transform and grow.

Do I Need to Transform as an Owner?

If you’ve made it reading this far you might be asking yourself the question, why should I transform? The answer to that question is, it all depends.

If your business is in its early stages where struggle and survival are still common feelings, you may not need a transformation. What you need is a roadmap to help guide you as you work through the stages of building a business. Each stage is going to need an owner who can lead it to the next stage. Many times that’s much harder than one anticipates.

If your business is stable and you’ve been operating it for at least several years, it may become stuck. It’s not growing like it once did. The time you have available to help it achieve the next stage is limited. And if you’re being honest with yourself, you don’t know what your business really needs at this point. It’s time to explore how you can gain the knowledge and skills to lead your business to become unstuck, beyond its current stage.

If your business is stable and growing, but it’s now stretching your ability to keep up with all that is needed to continue to grow, it’s time to evaluate your role in the business. The question is, are you working everyday in the business, and do you want to break free from the day-to-day? Or are you still needed in the operational day-to-day? Whichever is your case, it’s time to explore how you establish routines that allow you to do some of both. It’s in these later stages where transformation is needed the most. It’s in these stages where good business owners become great business leaders. This is where successful owners also learn how to scale their businesses into other opportunities.

How to Start a Transformation

I have been guiding business owners through their journeys for 20 years. I understand and know what it's like to wear all the hats, and make the difficult decisions.

From my learnings and experience I created an original business model called The PACE Principle. In it, I identify 4 essential areas where every business owner needs to focus in order to become a stronger leader for their business.

The PACE Principle is guides business owners on their journey of becoming more proficient leaders for their business. The model’s structure forms a foundation that EVERY business needs: an owner who leads by being Strategic, Analytical, Efficient, and Influential.

The value of The PACE Principle for business owners is that it delivers a simple approach to those seeking something new in how they become better leaders and attain greater business results. It guides them through becoming more Strategic, Analytical, Efficient and Influential for their business.

Be sure to Subscribe to my blog so you don’t miss Part 3 of the story of the Supreme. 

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