With the small business landscape more complex, challenging and fluid than ever, small business owners themselves need to develop a versatile leadership mindset to stay ahead of the curve. As a business owner, you’ll need to handle a number of key facets of your business, ranging from fundamental areas like financial management and personnel through to commercial elements including marketing, sales and product development.
The business landscape is also not what it once was in terms of creating steady away, stable businesses. Today, organisations must play by the rules of market transparency, labour mobility, instant communication and global capital flows. And to meet those expectations, they must do one thing almost constantly: change.
Good change management is a hugely important quality of any successful business. But enacting change in any given scenario carries with it a number of serious challenges. Here are four strategies to help you do it efficiently and effectively.
Address the human side of the change process
Any significant change process carries with it a number of potential “people issues”.
Change brings with it new roles, new leaders, new skill requirements and a heap of uncertainty, and dealing with all of this on the fly will likely come at a detriment to staff morale, speed of process and the end result of said change. With that in mind, you should develop a formal process to effectively manage change through your people. This should address key areas like decision making, strategy, systems and processes, so your staff are fully in the know when it comes to enacting a proposed shift.
Change starts at the top
Regardless of the size of your business, change always comes from the top. Thus, if you want to implement changes effectively, your top-level management need to set the standard for the rest of the business. Consistency in messaging, acting cohesively and encouraging desired behaviours throughout the business will be key in ensuring everyone is on the same page.
Include every corner of your organisation
Transformation programmes may affect certain areas of a business more than others, but that doesn’t mean you should keep less or unaffected areas of the business in the dark when it comes to that change. Particularly when change carries cultural weight, which it often does, you must ensure every layer of the business is fully cognisant of what’s happening.
Change should “cascade” through an organisation, and it cannot without full visibility across the business.
Communicate your message
It’s a common mistake to assume that those outside of your immediate leadership circle will understand the need for change as well as you do. The best change programmes are ones that reinforce the core message of the transformation project throughout the business, and help those both within and outside of your organisation get fully on board with the issues at hand, the need for change and the new direction you’re heading in.
Change management is by no means a simple process. Often, business leaders will seek the assistance of culture change specialists to successfully implement a transformation project, and if you can afford to bring in professional assistance, it often ends up being money well spent.
For many small business owners, though, transformation on a smaller scale needn’t incur additional charges. If you can implement common sense processes like those listed above to any change project, you’ll be creating a platform for success in every initiative.