The times they are a-changing

Phil Birch

Phil Birch - Birch Business IQ

I am sure we are all familiar with the old saying “there are only two things certain in life, death and taxes”.

Well I would like to modify this slightly to read as follows; there are only three things certain in life, death, taxes and change. Whilst death has an absolute certainty to us all, we do have a modicum of influence, if not control, over the taxes that we pay. So how are we able to exercise the same, or greater degree of control over change? especially when we consider that everything changes.

By way of illustration, and to emphasize the point I would remind you that you change your body, every few months or so. Every single cell in your body is replaced and renewed with diligent regularity, and without your prior consent or control, every few weeks or so. Skin, hair, bone, organs, the brain, etc etc; nothing remains the same. So if we are to accept the inevitability of change then how can we deal with it? How can we embrace it and use it to our advantage?

It would clearly be impossible to go into detail of every aspect of yourself and your business so I will address general areas.
1. you, yourself, and your mindset.
2. your employees and partners.
3. your processes and operations
4. your product or service.

In general, the solution is simple, if not easy one. Start by asking a few simple questions of yourself;

* Am I working hard or smart?
* Do I have an acceptable balance between my work and my private life?
* Does my job fulfill me?
* And I fully motivated and do I motivate others?

When you have honestly answered all of the above questions, and very probably some more too, then you are ready to start making changes were needed. In a previous article I wrote about the value of personal investment. That being investment in yourself. I recommend you read this article for a more detailed explanation and possible solutions. Additionally, should you feel ill equipped to address these personal issues alone then I recommend that you secure the services of reputable life coach. A good coach, will help you drill down to the cause of some issues that may well be creating a whole raft of negative effects. As I mentioned in the aforementioned article, the relatively small sum required to complete a course focused on your own personal development is inconceivably small when compared to the potential benefits; it is important to understand the difference between the value of things, and the cost of things.

Your employees and partners.
Essentially, to get the best performance from your business you will need to get the best performance from your employees. In general terms, the way to consider doing this is to address three areas namely communication and motivation.

The way in which we communicate to our employees is essential to gaining support and confidence. If you can’t communicate to them exactly what they are supposed to do and why, then, how can you expect them to deliver that which you require? It is important to remember that in these days of mass information freely available on the Internet, incessant advertising, social networking and political spin, too much information can be is harming as too little. Most people simply tune out that, which isn’t instantly required and beneficial.

It goes without saying therefore, that before, you can even begin to communicate effectively you yourself must be certain of what you want and why you want it; only then is it conceivably possible that you can communicate effectively. You need a mission statement to embellish your vision. You’ll need objectives to support your mission; objectives for you, your business as a whole, and your employees. Essentially, clear, consistent and regular communication will go a long way to overall performance improvement. If it isn’t working to your absolute satisfaction, then change it.

Assuming that you yourself are sufficiently motivated, and you are able and willing to communicate that motivational spirit to your employees than it is so important and to understand how to develop these key messages and to motivate your staff appropriately. Motivation, of employees is by no means simple task, and each individual employee will require an individually tailored motivation package. Not all people are purely motivated by financial reward; training, authority, recognition, contribution, fulfillment, personal development, time management, flexibility, etc etc all have a part to play in the employees personal motivation.

Trying to make their motivation package is unique and individual as they are. If they are not working effectively and efficiently and harmoniously do something about it. Even if your part way through an annual staff measurement program. Don’t be afraid to embellish amend or enhance the programme if the results are unsatisfactory. There is no need to throw the baby out with the bathwater. But having an existing plan in operation is no excuse for waiting until the inevitable results at the end of the year before addressing any problems.

Your processes and operations.
It is important to understand as much detail about your business is possible. I am not advocating drowning in the minutiae of day-to-day mundane activities simply suggesting that if you don’t know enough about how this strategy is being delivered, that is how you do what you think you should be doing. Then, decisions made at a detached higher-level and far less chance of delivering the benefits and decisions made in possession of all the facts.

Consider the following questions;

* Do my actual processes match my system processes?
* Do my employees utilise their tools and systems to maximum advantage?
* Of my employees sufficiently trained?
* Do the jobs and tasks they actually do reflect those activities contained within their job description?
* Do they actually have a job description? that is to say, do they really know what they are actually supposed to be doing. And as importantly, not doing.
* Do we have gaps in the process?
* Do systems are fully integrate?
* Do we extract the appropriate information?

Once again it may not be possible few to answer all of these questions and to construct a complete and effective course of action. So once again, consider the value of the business coach or process consultant. It may well be that there is far more functionality available to you that you are currently using, or indeed that your systems are held together by paperclips, goodwill and experience. Investigate, measure, test and change! If all is perfect and well, then you can still use a gearing methodology to see where minor improvements in each step of the process can accumulate into significant benefits by the time the activities and actions passed through the entire system.

Your product or service
If you are anything like me, you will love and live your product or service. But consider this: so should each and every one of your competitors. It is vital therefore, that not only do you fully understand your offering but that you also understand as much as possible about the offerings of your competitors. Only this way can you create an effective unique selling proposition; the key here is the word unique. You are unique, so by definition your business is unique. To maximise the benefits of this uniqueness you should look within and without.

Consider this, Internet marketing and social media are here to stay. This year, Internet advertising spend, exceeded all other forms of media advertising. Every single company has access to all the same tools that you do. Just because you can’t or don’t wish to understand and exploit it in no way means that they are not prepared to. It is important to receive feedback from within and without too. Consult your employees; survey them, ask for suggestions, get them involved in investment programmes. They are responsible for making or delivering servicing your business and, assuming that you have recruited and motivated them effectively, they will know more about the detail of your business than you will.

Additionally you should make sure that you are absolutely and completely informed about future developments in your marketplace, and with your products, and with your competitors. Internet research is incredibly powerful and relatively easy to undertake; use it. If you find someone doing something better or latest innovation in planned regulation changes in your industry or and myriad of potentially vital pieces of information than you are far more equipped to incorporate these developments into your business strategy and business delivery. Simply put, the world is changing, and if you don’t at least move with it, and preferably in front of it and you can guarantee that someone else will do.

Change is neither definitively good nor bad. Change just is. Just about everything around you and your business is changing, and what is more changing at ever increasing rates. It doesn’t have to be daunting or frightening. It just means that those who adapt best have the best chance of survival. A wise man once said, well I think it was a man anyway, evolve or die. You can’t evolve without making changes; embrace the challenge and embrace the change.

Measure it, test it, change it and enjoy the journey.

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