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  • Writer's pictureSteve Jamieson


Updated: May 26, 2019

Inspired change can create a competitive advantage.

Does your company feel lethargic, stuck and uninspired? Has your company been poised for success but struggles with results that don’t meet your expectations? Are you disappointed you own or work for a company whose intentions aren’t matched by the company’s sales?

Transformational change is even more difficult when that change is needed for an entire vertical instead of a particular company. The direct sales channel is moving through that change now.

Companies that become inspired by the opportunity to lead the change and make the decision early on to invite outside critical analysis of their “stagnant” quo will rise to the forefront.

In the past 10 years, in the face of competing against a multitude of new alternative income opportunities, more direct sales companies have fallen out of the rankings as a top company than have remained.

Nerium International, after going through a series of internal legal battles and a volatile international expansion into the Asian market, has now rebranded itself with a new name, Neora, and a newly formulated product line and compensation plan.

Vemma, after fighting a long and highly public protracted legal battle against the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), opened a new company named Bodē Pro, and is now transforming Vemma and Bodē Pro into one singular company.

In addition, ViSalus, which created the often copied 90-day Body Transformation Challenge, has opened a new division called Liv, which is a travel, event and lifestyle company designed to provide experiences and rewards through membership in its “experience marketplace.”

Determining When You Need a Business Transformation

The good news is that on your pathway of transformation, you will be traveling on familiar ground with many of the most admired and successful companies in the country.

Apple’s market share of the Mac personal computer in 2001 was poorly performing at less than 2.6 percent worldwide, the very same year the company introduced the transformational iPod. During the next six years of the iPod’s record-setting growth, Apple’s market share of Mac personal computers tripled to 8.1 percent.

In 2007, the iconic iPhone was introduced—years later, the iPad and iWatch. Now Mac computer sales represent a market share of 12.5 percent. Transformation can take you in a new direction but, if executed successfully, can also strengthen your core product line.

Facebook transformed itself from a college dating site into the largest video and advertising community in the world.

Amazon moved from a favorite e-commerce destination site into a familiar voice in living rooms, named Alexa. And don’t forget Domino’s Pizza, whose outside innovation team told them their pizza was inferior and they needed to tell the world.

My favorite business transformation story involves a self-made millionaire named Harry Singh, the founder and chief executive of the Bolla Oil Corp., who immigrated from India to New York City in 1983.

Singh was a mechanic by trade who opened gas station auto repair shops at the perfect storm of the worst possible timing. Two years after opening his very first station, oil companies were determined to reduce the number of independent gas stations by offering slim-to-none profit margins at the gas pump.

And if that wasn’t enough, car dealerships were introducing 50,000/5-year warranty service plans that virtually wiped out the need for independent auto mechanics for late model cars.Singh definitely met the criteria for a business transformation.

He soon realized that while independent gas stations were unprofitable, the distribution company that delivered the gas to his stations appeared to be thriving. Singh received a loan on his failing business to invest in a tanker truck, which he used to innovate and transform into a new gas delivery business.

He also used his capital to turn his empty garages alongside his gas pumps into 24-hour convenience stores. Singh now looked at his gas pumps as a loss-leader to bring customers into his very profitable convenience stores.

Today, he owns and franchises 100 gas station and convenience stores, 17 tanker trucks, and four car washes—and has revenue of more than $1 billion a year.

Companies are almost always blind to the right time to make the decision for a transformational change. Singh wasn’t blind because he was being poked in the eye. It’s easier to create a short-term fix to a broken business model than to create and challenge the best business practices responsible for a company’s success. It’s difficult to let go of what we know well for fear of what someone else might know better.

It becomes critically important for a company, regardless of size, to look for objectivity and clarity from the “outside in” and not the “inside out.”

It is difficult for a company and its team to analyze the underlying cause of systemic problems when executives are always in the middle of trying to solve the problem of today.

If You Want Big Innovation, Set Big Goals

A transformational company must not only make the decision to transform, but also to own the disruption it creates. A company will have to build an infrastructure and a culture that can embrace the changes needed before its distributors and customers decide to move on to another company.

A transformational company empowers its employees to innovate based on the aspirational goals leadership creates. If you want big innovation, set big and difficult goals that push people outside their comfort zone.

A company must build a culture and community of intellectual honesty, where every idea is invited to be a better version of itself. All ideas must be safe to share and even safer to be heard.

Avoid becoming emotionally attached to what your company has created, so you are not one step too late to help them innovate. Great products were not designed to last forever. Even if your company invented the wheel, you can rest assured another company is working to innovate it.

Companies built to innovate separate themselves from being simply a good company into being a great company always ready to compete.

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