The Opportunity Equation: Managing Change in Your Business
How do you handle new opportunities in your business?
I’ve been thinking a lot about managing change lately. How it happens. How we deal with it. How to make the most of it, even when it seems overwhelming or confusing.
Often in our businesses, change seems to creep up on us or is wildly unwieldy, like trying to build a Lego Millennium Falcon without the instruction book. As much as you want that awesome final product, when all the pieces are strewn in a minefield across your floor, it can be pretty overwhelming. So how do we take care of change strategically, make smart decisions that will move us forward, and avoid embedding every single sharp tiny object in our feet on our way to the kitchen? Great question…here’s how I do it…
A five-step process for managing change
As entrepreneurs we are constantly looking for new ways to do things better, new opportunities to take advantage of, new ideas to implement in our businesses. It can feel really overwhelming sometimes. How do we take advantage of the good stuff and minimize the bad stuff? It can feel like we’re running around like a chicken with our head cut off, reacting instead of purposefully making decisions.
The good news is that there are a few, easy steps you can take when you’re feeling overloaded with possibilities. I’m currently navigating this process as I revamp my From Zero to Zen financial setup/training program; I’ve done it over and over as things have shifted and morphed. You have a variety of other reasons for contemplating making a change in your business. Regardless of the circumstances, the following steps can help you make an educated, great decision for you and for your company.
1. Identify your pain point.
The need for change often comes because we’re feeling stuck in some way. Spending too much time managing the details and craving more time for big picture planning? Maybe it’s time to bring on some help. That bootstrapped client on-boarding process you’ve been rocking since you started your business finally ready to give up the ghost? Perhaps you’re looking at new CRM platforms but you don’t know which will work best for you and your business. In my case, it’s wanting to get better outcomes for all of my clients and streamline my training process.
The first step in your change process is to ID what’s making you feel “uck”. I mean really drill down on what’s happening and where things are sticking. It’s so easy to jump to conclusions: “I need a VA ASAP!”, “Ooh..that new platform looks pretty!”… These may be the absolutely right solutions, but many of us tend to hop right to the outcome we think we want without taking a quick peek at our actual situation. So I recommend taking a good look at your pain points and get really clear on what’s actually going on.
2. Determine if change is necessary.
Okay, this is tied closely to #1…do we really need to make a change? If you’re feeling stuck, chances are good you do want to go down the change road. Once you’ve looked hard at the issue at hand, take a minute to decide if this is a fun, distracting “change for change sake” situation or a true need to morph and pivot.
If it’s the second one, awesome! Now we can dive into really looking at our options.
3. Evaluate the benefits.
You’ve decided you want to hire that VA. The next step is to take a look at what value you’re going to get out of pursing this change proposal. You know you’re feeling overloaded with the morass of emails and time you’re spending messing with your calendar. It’d be awesome to have some help with your social media and to free up your time for bigger-picture stuff. Sound familiar? We do this kind of assessment on value-add all the time.
We’re constantly assessing ways to improve, whether we realize it or not. So this step is usually pretty easy for us to handle. If we’re stuck, it’s easy to see the benefits of change. But take the time to write down the pros (we’ll get to the cons next). It can give you a much better sense of surety when you come to your final decision.
4. Pull back the curtain on the costs.
Okay, this is an area we sometimes like to avoid. (Bright shiny object, I want it and I want it now!) But it’s really important to do both sides of the change equation. For the same reason I mentioned above…when we’ve done this process consciously and conscientiously we’re that much more likely to have successful change in our businesses.
So look at the actual costs of the proposed change. Back to our change example: what will you pay, in both time and money, to bring on a new team member? You’ll need to spend time training them and getting you both up to speed on the new workflow. Things may take longer than you’d like in the beginning. Managing other people can be tough. How much will you spend out of pocket before you see results?
I am always asking these kinds of questions when I help my clients through the change process, not because I don’t believe there’s a need or an opportunity to take advantage of, but because it’s important to look at all sides of the picture. I’d much rather go through the cost analysis and determine it’s totally worth it than make a snap decision that I’m going to regret.
5. Make your “go/no go” decision.
After you’ve done your analysis, with the data you now have in hand (or head, since most of us tend to do this kind of decision-making on the fly), you can make your decision. Did the benefit outweigh the extra costs of the change? Ready to bring on a revenue stream or add a marketing person to the group? Now that you’ve gone through the process, you can make a smart, strategic move with complete confidence. That might be a “yes, let’s do!” or “you know, let’s wait on this for a bit…”
Whatever the final decision, you’ve gone through a strategic, data-driven process. The benefit? You’re a managing change like a pro! And you’re doing it with so much more confidence than if you’d just made a gut decision or one based on what you’re seeing others doing out there in the big, wide marketplace.
Managing change doesn’t need to be hard.
The cool thing about all of this is that it can be really easy. We do a lot of this kind of decision-making in our heads, although depending on how complicated the change may be, you can use other evaluation tools. But however you evaluate your opportunity, the most important piece of the puzzle is to do a cost-benefit analysis like this to come to a concrete decision.
Get all of your data ducks in a row (financial, operational, etc.) and then go out an rock that decision. Work your change process with confidence because you’ve done your analysis and know without a doubt that this is the right step at the right time. Easy peasy!
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