John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the US, once said: “There is nothing as certain and unchanging as uncertainty and change.”
This statement refers to what is happening in the market place today.
Everything — from consumer preferences, technology, key players and business practices — is changing so rapidly that the only thing we are certain of is more and more change and an uncertain future.
Every business is under pressure to keep changing to remain relevant.
Knowing when to change in a dynamic environment is a prerequisite to success.
Entrepreneurs and firms that focus ahead, anticipate change and effect it before others are often trailblazers and greatest beneficiaries. Unfortunately, it is hard for many people to adjust to changes.
This can be challenging for small business owners who hope and expect that their employees, customers and others will back them when they embark on new programmes or strategies ahead of the others in order to gain leverage.
Why should you make changes in your business?
The answer to this question is quite obvious. Everything is changing and so you too must.
There are new products, new competitors, new technology, industry changes, new regulations, financial needs, or a shift in the economy or your customer base.
Thus change is not an option but a survival kit.
To gain leverage, you have to always track the industry and make the changes before the rest of the pack.
Making changes early has both advantages and disadvantages.
If you make the changes early you will most likely have to meet opposition from your staff, conservative customers, suppliers but less likely to be frustrated like the rest of the industry’s players who lag behind.
How do you know when changes are necessary?
Change is a continuous process but there are three key indicators that it is essential for your business to succeed.
First, when sales start to decline and shift towards the competitor, make a change rather than blame the economy.
Secondly, when you realise that you are no longer selling your top profitable products as often you did in yester years. Dig further and find out if your product is becoming obsolete or a competitor has invaded your territory.
Thirdly, when you realise that your business is losing credibility in the industry. Remember how some of the famous hotels, transport companies, shops and other products faded into the oblivion.
They started by losing credibility and by being overshadowed.
Some established businesses find it hard to make changes because they have created a comfort buffer zone. Some enjoy big and loyal customers, employees, own premises, stable and cheap credit lines or huge retained earnings to caution themselves when times are hard.
But often change is evolutionary and not revolutionary.
This puts them in grave danger because things will gradually run out of control.
What they often think is a passing cloud will edge them out.
Since people are naturally resistant to changes, you have to find ways to help employees, customers accept and adjust.
Always have the customer’s need in mind. It must always be or appear to be for the good of the customer.