4 Steps to Leading Change in Your Small Business

by | Business

In case you haven’t noticed by now, leadership is hard.

Concerning business leadership, best-selling author Dave Ramsey writes in Entreleadership,

“The problem with your company is not the economy, it is not the lack of opportunity, it is not your team. The problem is you. That is the bad news. The good news is, if you’re the problem, you’re also the solution. You’re the one person you can change the easiest. You can decide to grow. Grow your abilities, your character, your education, and your capacity. You can decide who you want to be and get about the business of becoming that person.”

I wrote about this in an earlier post titled, The Terrifying Truth About Owning a Small Business. The buck stops with you. The success of your business rises and falls with you.

Every now and then, you will discover that something is not working. And when you do, you must know and understand how to implement this change business-wide. Even if you are a solopreneur, your marketing efforts, vendors, customers, etc. will be affected in some way shape or form.

There is no escaping the necessity to change, so you must know how to deal with it when it comes.

And, the best way to deal with it is, to use the old adage, “grab the bull by the horns!” Your confidence in leading the change will directly impact its implementation, its adoption, and its long-term effects on your brand.

I had to do the same thing in my business, just a year and a half in. I started NorthMac as a company to work on Mac computers. Want to know how many Macs actually break? Apparently, not many!

I still work on them—and PC’s, but we went through a major business shift and put the emphasis on our WordPress consulting. It took some work, but this is the most profitable move we have made so far. I’m convinced it was the right thing to do.

This can be scary, and certainly won’t be easy, but you’re not alone! Here is four-step process for leading change in your organization:

Step 1. Embrace New Ideas


This first step is simply to have an open mind. Your business won’t go anywhere as long as you are stuck in your ways. The ability to open your eyes, recognize shortcomings, and be open to new ideas does not come easily to many people. It’s a skill to be developed! Unless you’re like Steve Jobs, it’s likely that new ideas take intentionality to create and time for you to embrace. This is okay—you certainly want to make the best decision for your business. But at the end of the day, if you’re not innovating, you’re simply not in business. Not for very long, anyway.

Step 2. Determine a New Course


At this phase, you need to start developing a game plan. Two practical suggestions are necessary here: (1) Seek outside help and (2) seek inside help. If you don’t have a trusted outside advisor who you can be frank with you about business dealings, hire a consultant. You may want to do that anyway! See what he or she thinks about a change like this for your business. If this person believes it’s worth pursuing, start collecting buy-in from insiders. Find your key team members within your company and see what they think about the issue, then, if they are also on board, begin to devise a plan for what this change will look like over the course of its implementation.

Step 3. Inspire with New Zeal


This is especially important if your organization has many team members. Listen closely—no matter what, not everyone is going to be on board with change. But the more zeal, vigor, and enthusiasm you show for the change, the easier time you will have. Many team members want to be able to stand behind their leader. But if they have an opinion (and they do) and they feel it is of value (and they do) and they disagree (and they might), it is your responsibility to show how this change can positively impact their business. You have a responsibility to your company to lead with passion, integrity, and wisdom.

Step 4. Implement New Methods


Finally, begin implementing your game plan devised in step 2. A word of caution: you’ll likely be doing this step and step 3 together. At least, there will be some overlap. Therefore, it’s likely you be implementing new methods and practices that team members are not on board with. Here’s the thing—you should do everything you can to keep this individual—especially if they are valuable to your team (which they should be if you hired them). I can’t tell you how to run your organization, but I can tell you to use wisdom in these situations. Ultimately, if they are no longer of use to your organization because they don’t follow its methods and practices, then it’s your moral obligation to allow them to seek to other employment opportunities. Yes—after a reasonable amount of coaching and correction, if they are still not on board, they should be let go. It’s the right thing to do.

[bctt tweet=”There is no escaping the necessity to change, so you must know how to deal with it when it comes.” username=”northmacsvc”]

To echo Dave’s sentiments, you have to decide how this is going to go. You have to believe in this change, and have a passion for it!

Your team members are sensitive to your leadership. They will take their cues from you.

If you can drive home and sell this change to your team members, vendors, affiliates, and customers, you can take any measure necessary to see your business rise.

Discussion Question: When leading change in your organization, how have you learned to be the inspiration your team members need?


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