This article is one in the multi-part series entitled The Entrepreneurial Mindset.
In my pre-writing days, I worked for a local government office. Every time we would get a memo about an upcoming change in office policy or procedure, you could hear a collective groan coming from the cubicles around me. It didn’t even matter what the change was or whether it would make our lives better. As a group, we wanted nothing to do with it. Why?
Change is scary. It means tempting fate and possibly failing. It requires trying something new that may or may not work because there is often unforeseen, and sometimes negative, consequences. Change also necessitates putting forth a little (or a lot of) extra energy to learn a new way of doing things, something that a most people either don’t have or clearly aren’t willing to give.
Now, as a small business owner myself, I finally realize that the world around me is in a constant state of change, and if I don’t keep up, then I’m definitely going to fall behind. As John F. Kennedy once said, “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”
Is this you? Are you so busy keeping your processes and procedures the same that you’re missing out on some great opportunities to grow your small business and make it more successful than ever?
And if it isn’t you, is this how your employees feel? Do you have a difficult time getting them to accept the changes that you know would take you to higher levels? Are their collective groans so loud that you can’t get them to hear your reasons for wanting to make improvements?
Whether it is you or your staff that has a hard time dealing with change, one thing is clear: If you (or they) don’t learn how to embrace change, you’re going to get run over by it. After all, innovation is synonymous with change which means that you need to welcome this way of thinking with open arms if you want to make any type of impact on the world around you.
With that thought in mind, here are five effective ways to make change something you look forward to versus being something that you dread:
- Remember times when change benefited you. One of the best ways to embrace upcoming change is to remember a time in the past when you weren’t too happy about change, but it ended up benefiting you. Maybe you dreaded finding a new supplier when your current one went out of business, but the end result was lower prices and better service. Making this type of positive connection may be just what you need to take a chance again.
- Understand why change is necessary. Oftentimes, change is easier when you understand why you are making it. This requires knowing your industry trends so that you can see why you need to alter processes and procedures to keep up. Baker University offers a great selection of online sources for statistics, census sites, and government documents to make your research easier, allowing you to better forecast what changes may be necessary in order to succeed well into the future.
- Seek to be an innovator of change. Some of the greatest innovators, like Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs, dramatically changed the world around them solely because they weren’t afraid to venture into the unknown. Seek to be like them, treading forward into the abyss, potentially becoming a thought leader that is placed in future history books, propelling the rest of the world to embrace change as well.
- Equate change with progress. No one gets ahead by standing still, which means that change is necessary for progress. Equate these two thoughts and you’ll find it much easier to accept that change is the one thing that will move you ahead in your field.
- Connect change with passion. Debbie Hopkins, CEO of Citi Ventures, points out in “How to Embrace Change at Work” that getting passionate people onboard can make the change process easier, something that is necessary if your employees aren’t too fond of change. This often requires getting to know them on a more personal level so that you know what motivates (and demotivates) them to want to change. And if it is you who is fighting change, then you may need to search inside yourself to reignite the passion you had when taking a chance and starting your own small business, something that clearly required embracing change.
Do these five things and you’re well on your way to not only embracing change, but promoting it. I can see your name in the history books now…