I believe everything happens for a reason. 2018 was a tough year. And I think many would agree. Our economy woes, corruption headlines and overall junk status were hard pills to swallow. Being a glass half full type of person, 2018 was the first time I was a little unsure of my glass. And turning 40 had absolutely nothing to do with it ?
But moments of uncertainty are a given in life. We all have them, and we should all prepare for them. Moments of change that, while uncomfortable, we constantly learn from. What matters is how we view change. How we analyse and adapt to the uncertainty. One of my mantras in life, and in the agency is “the only constant is change”. I repeat this mantra, sometimes to nauseous proportions for my poor staff. However, while this mantra talks change, and it’s a critical lens to view business through, it also talks to the change that we are not necessarily in control of.
What we are in control of is the change that really matters. The proactive change if you will. A friend of mine recently discussed the concept of real change only happening when we stop fighting for what is possible and start fighting for what is necessary (she had read this in an article somewhere, apologies for the non-reference). This really resonated with me and I felt it so relevant, especially within the small to medium sized business market, which need to navigate these tougher economic waters at the moment. I realized that as we move forward into 2019 ‘change necessary’ becomes critical, while ‘change possible’, becomes important.
Sometimes small to medium business is so focused on where it wants to get to and what it wants to achieve, that it can get pushed off course. Spend unwisely, make unnecessary business model changes and disregard the fundamentals of necessary change. Small to medium businesses – especially in SA – don’t generally have the luxury of global funding or change management specialists. So how can we identify the necessary change, to circumnavigate a tougher year?
To my mind there are a few key elements I wanted to share on this matter.
- Remember that getting and keeping customers is key to any successful business. Delivery and integrity are the only elements that matter. Ensure you have, and live, both. Every decision should be based on these pillars of principle.
- Never be afraid to talk openly with employees. How can they positively contribute to the ship, if they are unsure of the course or the challenges?
- Identify what works and keep it. Identify what needs to change and explain why. Always get buy-in for this change. Lead with integrity, never with authority.
- Adapt. We live in a world of change. Figure out what change is necessary to adapt to, to get the best results from your business.
- Don’t be afraid of new processes. This is a toughie, even for me! But what worked 3 years ago, may not even be relevant today. I’ve also realized the balance of info overload and info relevance. Don’t brush something off just because you don’t have time for it, or you feel its irrelevant.
- Never take your eye off the detail. A business runs effectively with well thought through decisions, and you need detail to make informed decisions.
- Invest in your industry. Train properly. Have an industry consciousness. It’s to the benefit of the industry at large. People will leave and that’s ok. Invest in them. Be ok with that and contribute.
- Ask. Get as many opinions as possible. Especially your management team. They have exceptionally valuable insight. Take it, use it wisely and apply it appropriately.
- Keep your gut going. This is what has always been your guide. It’s a great guide!
These seem obvious, but I think the obvious may just be that – in times of a challenging economy – we all scream ‘what about me!’ and that approach often leads to a siloed, irritated body of great minds, with frustrated experiences. All because we may be focusing too much on the change possible, and not bedding down the hatchets and focusing on the change that is necessary. May 2019 be the year of necessary, and 2020 be a turning point for our economy, businesses and our people!