The undeniable importance of change

The undeniable importance of change

As I’ve grown my own business over the years, I’ve come into contact with a great many owners, leaders, and entrepreneurs. And I’ve noticed something that often separates the best from the rest; their ability to handle change.

And no, I don’t mean 5, 10, and 20 pence pieces – although look after the pennies and all that.

What I mean is they have a knack for rolling with the punches. They’re agile and responsive when the need for change rears its head. They see it as an opportunity to improve upon what they already have.

In this post, I’m going to discuss the importance of change for your business, what you need to think about, and how best to handle it. Because without it, your business will almost certainly lose its edge.

Embrace the opportunity to evolve

Think about it; without change, without progress, without talented people pushing one another to be better, you’d probably be reading this article in a printed business newsletter instead of on my blog. And if you wanted to give me some honest feedback, you’d have to dictate your response to your secretary, who’d scribble down your correspondence before popping it into the post. And in 7-10 days, you mightget a follow up from yours truly, if your letter wasn’t lost in the mail.

All in all, technology has changed our lives for the better. We can now operate our businesses faster and more efficiently than ever before. Productivity has soared, communication is instantaneous, and problems can be solved with just a few taps or clicks.

But all of this is by the by if you don’t keep pushing and prodding. If you settle for what you’ve got, pretty soon your business will stagnate, and you’ll be left behind as your competition finds quicker, better, and more cost-effective ways of doing things. You need to embrace the opportunity to evolve your business.

Let me share a recent story of my own to really hammer this point home:

There’s always room for improvement

Four or five years ago, I identified a particular piece of software (name redacted) to help me with the very specific challenge of managing our practice, onboarding new clients, and maintaining a high level of ongoing and automated communication.

For the longest time, this software did the trick. However, it wasn’t perfect. The dashboard was clunky, the user experience wasn’t great, and it was very rigid. Try as I might, I couldn’t tailor it to each individual client, and this left me with a workable yet very broad-brush solution.

Now, if I were the type of business owner who actively resisted change, I’d probably look upon this situation as being resolved. The system was working; why go to the trouble of ripping it up and starting again? Instead, I welcome change. I view it as a real opportunity to make my business better. And when I spotted a superior piece of software at a recent industry event, I knew I had to make the switch.

Whatever it is you do, you have to be open to change. Business decision making often isn’t binary. It’s not simply yes or no. It’s yes or no with a caveat:“Yes, this particular piece of software solves my problem at this moment in time, but will it scale with me?” or “No, this isn’t the right fit just now, but it could be in six months’ time.”

So, how do you make that leap from actively avoiding change, to all-out embracing it?

How to respond to and facilitate change

Of course, when I talk about dealing with change in your business, I don’t necessarily mean you should pursue change for the sake of it. You should respond to and facilitate change when it makes sense; when something isn’t working as well as you’d hoped; or when your customers, industry, or competitors force your hand. Otherwise you’ll be overseeing a constant state of change without knowing if it’s necessarily for the better.

The best in the business control change. They use a structured framework to organise and measure what they’re doing, starting with a specific goal or hypothesis.

Returning to my software story, it would be chaos if I simply switched all of my clients to the new platform without taking the time to analyse its features and benefits, and to undertake a significant trial period. You need to be certain that the change you’re making will improve your current situation.

And here are a few ways of doing just that:

  • Ask questions of your customers.Are they reallyhappy? Are you overlooking anything that could make them happier? That could make their lives easier, or better?
  • Ask questions of your staff.Is there an unspoken issue that needs to be put into words – and those words into action? Remember, your staff are on the frontline, and no-one will know better which areas are crying out for real change.
  • Actively seek a different perspective.Sometimes you’ll find that you’re a little too close to the puzzle to actually spot faults and challenges. Perhaps a client, colleague, friend, or spouse can help you think a little differently.
  • Watch your market and competition carefully.Is someone doing something you do, and doing it better? How are they doing it? Can you emulate them? Can you improve on their solution?

Something worthy of consideration is this: You need to have the right mindset for change, and you need to create the right environment in which change can take place. You can’t be too proud or too stubborn in sticking with an initial decision if it’s patently not working. You need to be willing to listen to and learn from your staff and your customers to avoid standing still.

Things won’t ever remain the same

You only have to look at the recent news about M&S to witness the undeniable importance of change in action. It’s now in a position where it needs to close stores across the UK, all while trying to salvage an online operation ‘unfit for the digital age’. It was once a market leader. And now? It’s the perfect example of resting on one’s laurels.

No matter how big or small your business, you can’t simply make a decision and leave it at that. You need to be open to change, willing to regularly review your situation, and accept that your business won’t ever remain the same.

If you’re struggling with the idea of change, or you’d like to talk about growing your business, I can help.

Get in touch today to find out more.