Business change is handled in many different ways. Some make it a central part of their message, highlighting themselves as the new breed and the epitome of freshness, while others change slowly, if at all. For example, some businesses don’t have a website and still don’t accept payment by credit or debit cards. And, if it works for them, who can say they’re wrong?
However, what is certain is that we are in an era of profound change – the pandemic forced quick adaptations onto all of us, but that’s just one small part of the continued march of renewal that’s marked the last several years. Unfortunately, it’s a march that doesn’t appear likely to stop anytime soon, either.
And so, for your business, it means you’re going to need to have a plan. You can either stay as you are and find yourself rocked by the winds of change or get ahead of the curve and be on the edge of that change. If it’s the latter you have in mind, it’s worth being aware of the following tips.
Evaluate Your Capabilities
Success can make a business arrogant, and you can fall victim to the principle of “this is how we’ve always done things, and it’s served us well.” There may well be some truth in that principle within a specific set of parameters, but let’s be honest – it’s playing very fast and loose with the definition of “always.” For example, if you’ve been in business for ten years, you didn’t have to come through the global banking crisis of 2008. You may have rolled well with the punches, but there’s a lot more you haven’t had to deal with.
You can’t exactly predict the future, but you can follow trends, and most of us know at least a little about what the next ten years may hold. We can study what developments are on their way from a tech point of view, and we can look at what impact those might have on our business. Most importantly, we can understand what our business is capable of right now and how we could build on that institutional capability. Regular consultations with the most tech-savvy staff members will allow you to upskill in the areas you will need to emphasize in the coming years; a spirit of collaboration will serve you well if you want to stay relevant.
Be proactive and not reactive
Imagine for one moment you needed to build your own car before you could drive anywhere. Now imagine that while you’re trying to do that, other people are already in their cars, driving past you as you try to figure out where the exhaust pipe goes. That’s what it’s like when you wait for change to happen and for regulations to force you into working a certain way. We all know that there is environmental legislation in our future – we don’t know what it will be nor how much it will change, but we know it’s coming. So it seems like a smart choice to get out ahead of that change.
Pre-empting change allows you to be ready when it comes and meet it with confidence. There will be competitors who wait to see what is required of them before actually doing anything, so it makes nothing but sense to steal a march on them by being as green and eco-friendly as possible. While others are looking for ways of recycling more, you can be looking into coal combustion residuals. You might end up doing more than is required of you – but you can be sure that you will actually be taking change in your stride rather than getting to grips with it after the fact.
Don’t encourage an echo chamber
Every business owner likes to be told that they have a call right. That’s not just true of business owners, either. We all like to have our assumptions backed by others. It creates cognitive dissonance to be informed that we’ve got something wrong, yet we all make mistakes. You’re inevitably going to miss a call here and there. So it would help if you created a culture where people aren’t afraid to disagree with you. That is quite difficult because people will instinctively want to agree with the boss, and even when they are told it’s OK to disagree, they will struggle to believe it.
So you may need to be insistent with your closest advisors and every employee in your business. Point out that it’s all the more important that you’re corrected if you make a mistake because the boss getting something wrong can have repercussions for everyone. And you need to make sure that there aren’t consequences for disagreeing with you even if you were right, to begin with because it is only by developing a culture of differing opinions that you will be able to brainstorm your way through issues in the business. An echo chamber is a nice place to spend time, but if you live there, you’ll not hear an alarm.
Keep the communication coming
The most important thing you can do as a business owner is to stay on top of communication. People will go along with you if you go to the bother of taking them along. To do this, you have to be involving them in the story, telling them what you are doing, when, and why. Some businesses take communication too far and send out glossy mail-shots every few weeks to remind people they’re there. If you keep communication relevant, interesting, and informative, you’ll have a more engaged customer base.
Business changes are inevitable. Ensuring that it doesn’t swallow your business is really quite straightforward. Be aware of it, be flexible, be modest and be earnest. It’s much easier to adapt to change than try to prevent it from happening. It also requires less energy.