business transformation
leadership, strategic

How To Initiate Transformation For Your Business

What key ingredient do you need to initiate business transformation?

Curiosity. It’s as simple as that.

It’s the desire to explore things as a way of improving either yourself or the business you own.

In this series of articles I have shared my story about learning and persevering as I restored my now vintage water ski boat. (Check out Part 1 and Part 2 of the Supreme Transformation Series).

This project turned into a perfect metaphor for how an individual transforms as they learn new things. This is especially true when the result matches the big vision they have for the outcome.

A Supreme Transformation for Your Business

While we talk about the need to transform our businesses, what we really need to do is to transform ourselves as business leaders. We need to be more curious and learn what is needed, then follow the sometimes challenging process of learning and persevering.

Our businesses are transforming as the world around us transforms. As business owners we need to learn to transform quicker to keep up as well.

Whether your business is in its early stage, or you’re a veteran business owner, there is one constant to business ownership that can’t be ignored. Over time things are going to change – and you’re going to need to adapt.

And if you are the curious DIY-type like me, you’re going to learn new things and transform as your business transforms.

The tasks I performed apply to building a business as well.

  • First I needed to assess the situation and found the Supreme was operational.
  • I dug deeper as I was cleaning and found other issues needing work.
  • I had to make a big decision about whether to proceed, or punt the project all together.
  • For an early quick-fix, I found a mechanic who could do the tasks I didn’t want to do.
  • I researched the process until gaining confidence, then formed a vision of the best outcome.
  • Using resources I found, and testing through trial and error, I taught myself the skills needed to restore the Supreme to its original beauty.

The lessons I learned apply to building a business as well.

  • You will require patience. There is no quick-fix when it comes to transformation.
  • Everything is a process. When we turn it into a process, we make better progress.
  • It’s going to take longer than anticipated. Rushing will not get the end result you desire.
  • It will take trial and error. Mistakes and miscalculations are going to be made along the way.
  • You will need perseverance. Don’t give up. Do-overs along the way are a fact for any project.

The feelings I gained apply to building a business as well.

  • Building confidence in my ability to tackle difficult projects
  • Teaching valuable lessons I wouldn’t have gained otherwise
  • Learning new skills that can be applied to other projects
  • Gaining greater clarity of what the final outcome looks like
  • Making better decisions through curiosity and digging deeper
  • Greater satisfaction with the outcome knowing what I had to overcome
  • Understanding a process gets better the more you practice

Becoming a better leader for your business as it grows and produces greater results is what business ownership is really about. And by doing so, you gain skills, and lessons, and feelings that can be applied to any business, or any project you choose to explore.

How to Start a Business 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 designed to guide 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 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 Do 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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lessons for business owners business maintenance
analytical, efficient, influential, strategic

A Supreme Transformation And Its 5 Lessons for Business Owners

Whether a business or a boat, as anything ages - and yet is still well maintained - it retains much of its value. But when not maintained, underlying problems are sure to exist. This provides a valuable lesson for business owners.

A Boat and Operating a Business

I grew up in my teens as a competitive water skier. My favorite event was water ski jumping, and I was actually pretty good. I could land some pretty long jumps, and I also took a few spectacular crashes. That was over 40 years ago, and I can still sense the thrill of flying when watching from the sidelines. I remain a water skier still to this day, and here's why.

A friend in Ohio who owned a ski boat, that I have since named the Supreme, called asking me if I’d be interested in buying the boat, as is, at a low cost. We already had plans to travel to Ohio for a football game, and so I agreed sight unseen. It wasn’t until the Supreme arrived at its new home in North Carolina that I could really assess what I bought. The good news: I owned a boat and was going to be skiing again. The bad news: the boat needed a bunch of work to bring it back to standards. (If you’re honest, you’ve sometimes felt this way about your business too. Do you have a good business, but it’s not up to your high standards?)

This story is about what I learned in bringing the Supreme back to near showroom standards. It’s full of lessons for business owners whose business aren’t meeting the expectations they have for it.

Boat Restoration and Business Growth
Maintaining Your Business Like Boat Restoration
Maintaining Your Business Like Maintaining a Boat

5 Lessons for Business Owners

If your business isn't meeting the expectations you have for it, there's a high probability there are areas of your business that aren’t properly maintained. They may have been ignored, or mismanaged. This often happens when a business owner doesn't know what to do, or have enough time to address an issue.

Assessing the Supreme, I found it was operational, which I had expected. The engine is a V8 car engine modified for marine use. An early challenge was finding a mechanic willing and able to work on an older engine. This was especially true because that engine was in a boat. I’m not an engine guy, and I was able to find the support I needed.

Lesson #1 for Business Owners: Find people more knowledgeable than you in specific areas.

As I cleaned the inside hull and interior of the boat, I uncovered all kinds of issues. I could have punted and sold the boat for something more than what I paid. Or I could have decided the project was worth the effort and learned what’s needed.

Lesson #2 for Business Owners: Discern whether the project is go, or no-go; NO may be the best answer.

Stop now and think about a project where you had to learn something new because doing so was worth the effort. You have to be careful when deciding though. It’s too easy for projects to suck you in that don’t significantly impact your business.

Have you uncovered issues that you ignored or mismanaged due to not knowing what to do? Or thinking it’s a project that will take too much time? Make the time to find a project that is essential to your business. Then create a routine around moving it forward.  

Lesson #3: There is always time for the most important things in your business.

I’ve been practicing as a business advisor for 20 years. I know for fact that I have ignored or mismanaged aspects of my business. I can also see it also in most other businesses I’ve had contact with.

It’s natural. As business owners alone, we can’t do everything our business needs to operate at a high standard and still exceed our expectations. However, we can do what’s most important for our business even if it’s maintaining what you’ve created.

Lesson #4: Prevention is a great approach to boat and business maintenance.

As anything ages, it needs to be well maintained if it is going to retain its value. We know this about our health. We know this about our homes, and our cars. We know this about our relationships. We schedule appointments with experts in their fields to have all of these maintained.

Yet nagging issues in our business can fester into open wounds that lead to infection and more.

Why does this happen? Most often it is because the owner was lax in their oversight. When initially brought to their attention, the issue wasn’t serious enough to warrant action. Then when it became obvious there was a larger issue, and no immediate solution, it became urgent and put demands on the time they didn't have in the first place to address it.

Lesson #5: Assess and discover - be curious enough to find the problem and fix it.

When I first lifted the engine cover on the Supreme, I was shocked. It had obviously been leaking or spraying oil for quite some time. The inside of the hull had oil sludge all over the place - I mean everywhere. Even though I’m not an engine guy, I know that sort of issue is a fairly simple fix when caught early through regular inspection and maintenance. 

I performed the nasty clean-up job myself so I could search for any other maintenance issues. Then I let the mechanic fix the oil leaks and tune the engine.

You may be an owner leading a small business that requires you to be involved in most of the tasks and sometimes do the clean-up yourself. In that case you also need to become good at assessing and discovering. You need to develop the skill of uncovering issues detrimental to your business early. You also need the skills to quickly uncover opportunities when they appear to enhance and grow your business.

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 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 2 of the story of the Supreme and its lessons for business owners as it goes through its transformation.

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