You know the axiom: the only thing constant is change. Resisting change, especially when you run your own business, is lethal. As technology and the business world continue to plow forward you must maintain a steady jog in order to keep up. What can you do to avoid getting lost in the wake of change? Here are a few tips:
1. View change as opportunity
Many people fear change, and as a result, experience a reflex action against it. Before you can let change work to your advantage, you have to see it as a positive force. Make a concerted effort to think and talk about change in an upbeat way. Consider the surfer who uses the force of a wave to propel him forward, opposed to the tired swimmer who finds himself drawn further from the shore with each swell. In order to ride the wave of change, you must expel your fear of it.
2. Remember the client
The client is king, and if you don’t consider his/her needs as you respond to change, you may find yourself loosing touch with royalty. I once read about a great little coffee shop that had a loyal customer base. But all that changed when the coffee shop changed. Their prices rose drastically and the once-friendly servers became grumpy. The shop’s quaint atmosphere altered to a tense environment, and that loyal customer base began looking around for another quaint coffee shop. What was this small business’s big mistake? They didn’t remember their client as they began making changes. Perhaps they had to raise prices, but their approach was off-putting. Every time you make a change, or respond to one, ask yourself how it will affect your clients. It might even help to ask for a client’s opinion regarding impending changes; you may get great advice on how to approach them.
3. Anticipate the future
You don’t want to be blind-sided by significant industry changes. You’ll be better prepared for change if you can anticipate it. This requires you to do a little research and uncover general business trends as well as trends specific to accounting. Once you foresee a change, you can make strategic business decisions. You can also prepare your family and/or staff for necessary modifications.
4. Release the past
Too many people live by the motto, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The horse-drawn carriage still works, but it won’t win any races against a bullet train. The past was good; it got you to the present. But holding on to it will only hold you back. Acknowledge the things you learned in the past, change what you need to change, and move forward.
5. Involve others
It’s important that you involve family and staff in your business decisions. Hold staff meetings where you discuss imminent changes and how to approach them. Talk with your family about them. It’s important for you to get feedback that will help you respond to the change well. Involving these individuals will also help you get buy-in from team players; they will be more invested in the changes if they were involved in making these crucial business decisions.
6. Design a plan
Now that you have talked to your family and/or staff, it’s time to design a plan to manage the change. List all necessary steps and the tasks associated with each. If you have a staff, be sure that each member knows which tasks they are responsible for.
7. Over-communicate with your staff
Over-communicate this plan with your staff. Remind them of what these changes will look like and how everyone is to deal with them. Sending one quick memo will not likely do the job.Bill Gates is quoted as saying, “In three years everything my company makes will be obsolete. The only question is whether we’ll make them obsolete or somebody else will.” The most important thing you can do is be more aware of change. Embrace it; view it as an opportunity to grow your business. Because if you don’t respond to change well, chances are your competition will. Good luck riding that wave of change. You may be surprised at how much you’ll enjoy it.