Building a business is like sailing a ship

Building a business is like sailing a ship

Analogies are very useful to simplify thinking and action. As a #businessowner, building a #business in a challenging environment creates noise and chaos. Gaining clarity, certainty and confidence helps manage the noise and emotion to provide right action and timing in your journey of building your business. A good analogy helps you get this right.

Building a business is like sailing a ship. Here’s how and why.

  1. A ship sets sail with a clear destination in mind

Like a business, you start and end. The end takes one of two forms. A sale or closure. For most, its closure. In fact, 94.6% of all businesses started close at great cost to the business owner, their family, their staff, suppliers and customers and the economy in which they operate. To succeed in your journey, you need to set a clear destination. You then need to ‘chart your course’ to arrive there safely and efficiently.

For example, you set sail from Durban to get to Mumbai. It’s a 12-day journey at sea. Being smart, you take 15 days of food, fuel and water in case things go wrong. A business too, if the destination is clear, should have a resource plan to get from where it is to where its going. This means a clear destination and a plan to get there supported by a budget.

  1. A ship has a crew with specific skills and roles

A ship has a crew made up of people with varying skills and responsibilities. There’s the Captain, first and second mate, navigators, engineers, cooks and deckhands and so on. Each has a specific role to perform and is trained to perform it.

A business has is made up of people too. If well organised, the team includes people best suited and skilled in marketing and sales skills, operations and procurement, human resources and finance. At sea, every crew member knows what to do and when to do it. The safe passage of the ship depends on it. In a business, the same applies. Failure in any one area of the activities stalls your business growth and lets your team members down.

  1. A ship is organised in three distinct areas, a bow, midships and stern

The bow of the ship is like the ‘front-end’ of your business. It breaks new water and directs the ship along its course. The stern is like the “back-end” of your business. It propels the ship forward. The midships is the control centre of the ship located between the bow and the stern. It’s like the “middle” of your business and controls the finance and human resource administration and management activities. Each area must perform its role for the ship to function well and sail successfully to its destination.

The same applies to your business. The front-end of your business, sales and marketing leads the business direction. The back-end of your business delivers in response to sales made. The midships holds and coordinates everything together with hopefully, good metrics and data to be sure that there are sufficient resources to get to the destination.

  1. A ship has a bridge and engine room

The engine room of a ship is below deck and houses the diesel engines that drive the propeller and move the ship forward. Its mostly a dark and dingy place. The loud noises of the engines smell of diesel, poor lighting and constant issues that a sea faring ship experiences make it a tough place to be. The bridge of the ship is located above the deck at a high point on the ship. It has windows wrapped around it giving you a 300-degree view. It has a dashboard with instruments and navigation equipment. It controls the direction of the ship, its speed and communications and has a Nespresso machine. It’s a great place to be.

As a business owner, where do you spend most of your time? In the engine room putting out fires or on the bridge guiding the direction and growth of your business?

Most business owners I meet are spending most of their time in the engine room. They are driven by the business and everything that makes us their business. Staff, customers, suppliers, landlords, government and more. They spend little time on the bridge because their businesses are chaotic and poorly built requiring them to be constantly fixing and rejigging the engine room. Yet, they are the most expensive resources in their own businesses. They should be spending up to 70% of their time on the bridge. There, they can direct the ship, set the course, ensure that they get to the destination to off-load their cargo and get paid. There, they drive the business and are not driven by it.

  1. A ship sails alone in the open sea to get from A to B

The open sea is full of surprises. The waves, wind, currents, storms bash the ship and threaten its safe passage. The business environment is no different. Every day we face politician rules that hurt business, volatile currency, uncertain energy supply, bad people behaviour and hectic competition. It’s a rough sea indeed.

  1. A ship is regularly maintained

A ship is an asset that if well maintained, earns income for many, many years. Regular maintenance from scrubbing the hull free of barnacles that create drag on the ship’s momentum, removing rust and replacing the lifeboats and distress flares improves the performance and sustainability of the ship.

In any business, the systems you build will have to be partly broken and rebuilt as you grow. The software and computing you have will have to be upgraded. It’s a process of continually ensuring that your business, as it grows, is shaped and tweaked to deliver continual performance.

  1. Build your business like a Captain sails a ship

Using this analogy, be sure that you have a clear, well-defined destination to sail to. In my view, the only port you should be sailing to is an #AssetofValue. That is a business that’s well-positioned, driven by business systems operated by a well-organised team that of a day can be successfully sold. Importantly, it releases time for you, the Captain of your business be on the bridge.

The shape of your business from the front, middle and end should be well designed to ensure that your ship sails successfully and efficiently. That design coordinates the activities in the business for your crew to play their role. That crew should be well-selected and trained, only possible if the destination is clear and ship is well built.

The sea you sail through will have surprises and your being on the bridge of your business lets you look ahead and keep a clear mind to cope with them as they batter and bash your business.

Finally, you, the #businessowner, should be on the bridge. Its only there that you can grow your business beyond yourself, organise your team, coordinate the building and functioning of your business to ensure that, when you reach your destination port, you have an #AssetofValue. It’s at that destination port you can unload your cargo, or in the case of your business, you can exit with a successful, clean sale.

Working with Aurik we have a structured approach to help any established business owner build their business like a ship. We work with you from the bridge to set a clear destination, build the ship of your business to get there and with the right crew. With us you will get to the bridge and remain in it to take control of your destination and secure your eventual, successful exit.

Tags: Asset of Value, Building your Business

Start with the end in mind

Start with the end in mind

Plans don’t always work out – that’s life. Starting a business is no different, especially when you need to work closely...

Read more

Negotiating the family business deal

Negotiating the family business deal

76% of family businesses don't survive through a second generation. It's a scary statistic and one that affects many private...

Read more

Building a pricing strategy to grow your business

Building a pricing strategy to grow your business

“The pricing game is emotional”… this is how a tweet from a listener began, and he’s right. A challenge to your pricing feels...

Read more

NEXT-LEVEL GROWTH: WHAT IT IS & HOW TO GET IT RIGHT

NEXT-LEVEL GROWTH: WHAT IT IS & HOW TO GET IT RIGHT

How often have you heard the terms "Next-level growth" or "Getting to the next level" bandied about? It's become more business...

Read more

Our past determines our approach to the SA economy

Our past determines our approach to the SA economy

Carl Jung said “We are trapped by the images of our past”. Meaning that our past experiences affect our perception of reality....

Read more

White Knights, Silver Bullets & False Prophets

White Knights, Silver Bullets & False Prophets

The exhaustion of running a business can make us vulnerable to the allure of a cure-all solution. But if it sounds too good...

Read more

Help Pavlo to #NameTheBook
namethebook

Help Pavlo to #NameTheBook

Pavlo Phitidis has just completed a book about the ideas, thoughts and more valuably, his direct experience in building successful...

Read more

How to build a retail empire very, very slowly

How to build a retail empire very, very slowly

Retail is notoriously difficult, but if you have a great product targeting consumers - you need to get it right. Pavlo Phitidis...

Read more

Immigrating talent for a quick but enduring economic boom

Immigrating talent for a quick but enduring economic boom

If we can attract 100 000 STEM qualified immigrants, we can not only bridge the skills gap that is stagnating our growth,...

Read more

EMIGRATION: Its cost and opportunity to a business owner
Business Growth

EMIGRATION: Its cost and opportunity to a business owner

Over the last month, I have had two same, but different meetings with two different business owners. They were the same because...

Read more

Creating opportunities that didn’t exist before
Growing business value Business Growth

Creating opportunities that didn’t exist before

Creating economy is a key entrepreneurial skill. Its something that is entirely possible irrespective of the environment...

Read more

Why waiting to act becomes the only act and how to ‘snap’ the bad habit
Asset of Value

Why waiting to act becomes the only act and how to ‘snap’ the bad habit

With the South African elections now come and gone, it feels like we have passed a milestone that we were all holding our...

Read more

Winning mindsets turning thought into action and action into results
Building your Business Business Growth

Winning mindsets turning thought into action and action into results

The distinguishing feature between business owners who crack it and those who drift along, and fail… is mindset.

Read more

How to structure the offer of a Management Buy Out
Business Succession Succession planning

How to structure the offer of a Management Buy Out

A hardworking, smart professional presented me with a scenario on an offer she had received to conclude a management buy-out. She...

Read more

Position your business for success and maximum impact
Positioning your Business Business Growth

Position your business for success and maximum impact

Wing Chun Kung Fu, a style of martial arts, requires that you have a secure footing on the ground in all its defensive and...

Read more

Building a business is like sailing a ship
Asset of Value Building your Business

Building a business is like sailing a ship

Analogies are very useful to simplify thinking and action. As a #businessowner, building a #business in a challenging environment...

Read more

What’s your business worth?
Business Growth

What’s your business worth?

Firstly, this only matters for 5.4% of all #businessowners since 94.6% of all business started fail to sell. They close at...

Read more

Creating wealth through your business
Business Growth Wealth Creation

Creating wealth through your business

Wealth describes an abundance of a desirable thing. It could be friendship, love, money, access to a foodstuff and so on....

Read more

Developing an effective marketing strategy
Business Growth Marketing strategy

Developing an effective marketing strategy

If you can’t and don’t get potential customers to know that you exist, they don’t care and you die. They don’t care because...

Read more

Build resilience into your business to take control of your future
Business Growth Strategic Planning

Build resilience into your business to take control of your future

We often hear about being resilient to thrive and survive in business today. Why does this matter and what does it mean?

Read more

Escaping the project revenue trap and why you should do it
Building your Business

Escaping the project revenue trap and why you should do it

Recently, at an Asset of Value event in Johannesburg, South Africa, a room bristling with 58 business owners that collectively...

Read more

What is your business building approach to 2019: Chose one of 3 strategies
The Money Show Business Strategy

What is your business building approach to 2019: Chose one of 3 strategies

2018 has been an exhausting year. Taking time off is important, so long as you don’t break the momentum of your business....

Read more

How to Deal with Nightmare Partnerships, Collaborations & Joint Ventures
The Money Show

How to Deal with Nightmare Partnerships, Collaborations & Joint Ventures

Collaboration is a key element for building your business into a successful Asset of Value. But, not every joint venture...

Read more

Why Collaboration is a Critical Skill for Every Business Owner
The Money Show Building your Business

Why Collaboration is a Critical Skill for Every Business Owner

We’ve entered the age of collaboration. Despite current events, like BREXIT, that showcase the opposite, collaboration remains...

Read more