It’s fascinating to study what makes the difference between a person who owns a small struggling business that stays a small struggling business … and a person who owns a small struggling business that becomes an industry leader.

It boils down to the constant innovation, simplification and optimization of the key systems in your business. This may seem like a tall order, yes. But I promise you it’s well worth it!

Why? Because the process that sets an industry leader apart from a struggling business owner, and the process that can help an average business owner become an industry leader — is the same thing. It’s five-step system we call the “PRIMO” Process.

“Primo” is a Latin word that means “first, foremost and most distinguished.” A word I’m sure you’d like to have associated with your business name, right? If so, here’s an outline of the five-steps to developing the innovative systems that can help you become a distinguished leader in your industry:

*1) Prioritize: Prioritize your list of all critical systems in your business and start with the top one as your focus.

*2) Research: Research and benchmark the current level of effectiveness of the target system.

*3) Imagine: Imagine new ways you can innovate the current system. (We intentionally use the word imagine because you must not only “step outside the box” of conventional thinking, you must often smash that old box to pieces!)

*4) Make your move: Make a decision from your list of proposed improvements and begin to orchestrate the new process.

*5) Observe and optimize: Observe your changes, measure/record your results and optimize your approach as necessary until you get the results you want.

Recently, an associate of mine was featured on the cover of “Inc. Magazine” proving the value of these principles.

Greg Wittstock of Aquascapes Designs was a supplier to one of my previous companies. I can tell you from personal experience that he clearly understands the value of the “PRIMO” Process, and makes full use of it.

As the article highlights, he innovates so quickly that his competitors can’t keep up. It’s what has allowed him to go from $800,000 in sales in 1995, to a projected $44 million this year.

If you want to accelerate your success and innovate at a pace that you don’t even need to think about what your competitors are doing, you’ll need to rotate different areas of your company in order to polish and perfect.

We coach entrepreneurs on an effective technique for getting the most out your PRIMO Sessions, but here’s how you can begin to apply the PRIMO Process on your own each month.

*A. Set aside at least two hours once per month to sit down with your team and proactively practice the PRIMO Process on one area that’s critical to your business growth. (For larger companies with 25-plus people, have one meeting per department.)

*B. During the month following that first meeting, observe, measure and document the level of improvement generated by the new system.

*C. At the start of the following month’s meeting, begin with a brief status report on your target system, and discuss further optimization. Then use the remainder of your meeting to address the next system in order of priority.

You can’t achieve a leadership position in your industry without innovation, and you can’t maintain that position unless you have systems in place. These two key components of growth can sometimes work against each other and it requires a fine balance between the two. The PRIMO Process is the key to keeping this delicate balance in your company.

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Hawaii Reporter is an award-winning, independent Hawaii-based news and opinion journal founded in 2001 and launched in February 2002. The journal's staff have won a number of top awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, including the top investigative news reporting awards, business reporting awards, government reporting awards, and online news reporting awards.