Thursday, March 26, 2009

Change and Business Growth – Five Steps To Success

There is an old expression that says change is one of the three unavoidable facts of life – the others are death and taxes. Change is both essential to business success and one of the most frightening things a business owner can face; market conditions fluctuate, profits rise and fall, employee turnover… All of these and many more are all an integral part of doing business in today’s world.

Building your business is hard work, and once you have the ball rolling in one direction it can be very difficult to change the course. Doing something differently can be a terrifying prospect, but the best business owners have to stay flexible in order to succeed! Resisting change and trying to stick to the old ways can lead to trouble and worse. Companies that don’t change stagnate, miss growth opportunities, and, even worse, die out.

You’ve seen this time and again. Successful businesses generally have a core area that works well for them, but regularly fiddle with what they do, tweaking and improving constantly to see what works the best for them. Take a look at McDonald’s, for example; a franchise operation that works as a standard cookie-cutter template or mold. They’ve had the same basic setup, offerings, and operations for decades, but try out new things all the time – products, promotions, marketing, everything. Not all of these changes work or are kept, but every once in a while the company finds that perfect new item that makes all the difference and then brings in millions of dollars.

Constant reinvention, innovation, and acceptance of change are what keeps companies like McDonald’s at the forefront of their market. Smaller companies can and should learn from this and be willing to take a leap into a new venture or try out a new way of thinking or doing business! Taking a leap can pay off with huge rewards, as long as you make sure of a few things and follow five steps in a fairly straightforward plan.

1) Plan Your Approach

Before you start any major change or new business venture, have a plan of attack. Know what you want to do, why you want to do it, and do your homework! Don’t go into anything without a good, strong feel for what your strategy is going to be.

2) Don’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew

You have to be realistic. If this new venture or change is going to swamp your business, don’t do it! Keep the proportions manageable – if the resources required to do this are more than you can afford to allocate (and possibly risk losing) then it is a simple decision. Be sure to have a backup plan!

3) Don’t Be Afraid

Having steps 1 and 2 taken care of can make this easier. Fear is one of the most detrimental things to any business, and can dramatically reduce a business owner’s ability to proceed and prosper in a new venture. You have a good plan, and know that it is something you can handle – what is there left to be afraid of?

4) Take The Plunge

As a business owner, by now you have already done this many times. You’ll have to do so many more before your time as a business owner draws to a close. Have your leaps in the past paid off? Obviously, you’re still here! Remember these times and try to do it again.

5) Wait, Evaluate, Measure, And Decide

Now that you’ve had some time working in the new venture, you should evaluate your progress. You don’t want to simply close your eyes and hope; pay attention to what’s going on, tweak what needs to be changed, and keep a fluid plan of attack. Adjust your actions according to the development of what you are doing – if something isn’t working, fix it! Determine whether or not your venture is paying off, or simply burning resources, and decide if you should celebrate and keep it, or accept a loss and move on to the next big idea.

Change should be part of every business owner’s plan. Take a look at how you do business – do you anticipate the need for new ideas, products, markets, or methods? If not, carefully consider your approach; not being prepared can be disastrous.

However, if you are willing to consider expanding your business into new markets, give Gateway to Government a call! We can help you with all five steps and introduce you to a lucrative new business arena.

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