Change. A word that digs up a sense of dread in so many of us, yet a word that represents something we all experience despite our attempts to avoid it. From switching to a new mobile phone provider to switching IT Companies (yep, I couldn’t help putting that in), we all have to deal with change at some point. Often, good change is uncomfortable. But often it’s necessary, too.
Perhaps we have a niggling feeling that something in our own lives (or our business) needs to shift. Or maybe not. Maybe it takes the wisdom and expertise of someone on the outside to help you identify gaps and discrepancies in what you might have thought was flawless (and not in need of changing).
Whether we see it easily or not, eventually the usual way of doing things can create tension or stress, and then hopefully a moment of realisation that there is a need of change. On a personal level, it could be realising that getting up out of bed now takes a second coffee and a commercial crane. Hopefully this inspires health changes and the motivation to dust off that old pair of running shoes.
For a business, however, it could be an operational process or an aging network setup, that is making your business unfit —possibly causing a plethora of issues (including financial loss). These may have all been things that you were unable to pinpoint until now. Maybe you’re the HR or office manager and you’ve been trying to convince your boss for a few years now, and its finally twigged. My hat goes off to you, because sometimes it’s hard trying to convince someone so comfortably stuck that there is actually a better way of doing things.
Either way, for positive change to have a good chance, identifying the need for it is paramount, alongside removing the pride that might get in the way of admitting that very need.
The result of positive change is a commodity. So, naturally, there needs to be a trade if you wish to obtain the result. Simply, if you choose to change, there is a cost. But if you choose not to change, especially when you should, there may well still be a cost—and potentially a much bigger one. Having said that, the effect of that decision may not be very noticeable for weeks, months, or even years.
The decision or action to make any change can cost time and money. In the case of bad decisions, it can cost entire businesses—there is a very long list of dissolved businesses that can attest to that. Sometimes business owners and decision-makers may think nothing needs to change, but it is prudent to consider that inaction can be just as devastating. A large portion of retail businesses (especially small businesses) struggled through a surge in online shopping trends in the last decade (especially from 2008 – 2018) Those business that thrived had seen the need to change with the times and acted on it. Many of those that didn’t would regret not acting sooner than they should have.
Once upon a time, I entered a small business as their first, proper office manager. The business was projecting to end that financial year at a significant loss (even if they hadn’t employed me). As I stepped boldly into the office on my first day, it became painfully obvious as to why. I like paper as much as the next guy, but job sheets were everywhere! The job management system could be described as one that was a step above randomly placed post-it notes, albeit barely. I was tasked with bringing the archaic system through refining fire and into the 21st Century.
Thankfully the owners identified the need to change (although I still sensed some dispute on how much need existed), but my job was to tell them what was required for the change and how much it was going to cost them. Despite the looming end of the financial year closing coldly in (it lined up with a particularly cold and early winter, coincidentally), the cost of what I presented was approved. Computers were upgraded, technicians were given portable devices, a new job management system was put in place, and in this process the paper content in the office reduced greatly. The business had become less of a fire hazard, had soared through a backlog of jobs, and cleared out most of the outstanding invoices and issues with suppliers and customers.
The result was certainly noticeable. Not only did I feel great about implementing a change that improved the business’ daily operations, but we turned a profit that financial year, instead of the projected loss (even accounting for my wage and all of the additional expenses). I even got a bonus for it! After that, it was clear that inaction would have cost them much more than the action they chose.
Of course, not all outcomes are clear without the benefit of hindsight, but hopefully my office manager story demonstrated an upside to positive change that was, in the end, worth the cost. As I experienced in that situation, change was uncomfortable for the business owners, who had been running things the old way for a long time. The most immediate benefit came to them financially, but the upsides can come in many forms: Business Growth, Customer Satisfaction, reduced stress and increased efficiency to name a few. All of which enable the business to reach higher and achieve more. The same is true for good personal change, too.
Like I said, the upside of positive change isn’t always clear from the start, so it’s important to associate with people who are in the business of helping people make the right changes that they need. Perhaps you can’t see the need, if there is one, or perhaps moving forward into the unknown is intimidating.
“Often the change that’s waiting beyond the field of our comfort is better than anything within it.”—Me
In all this, remember that not all change is bad. If that sense of discomfort is getting in the way of improving you—or your business—then it may be time to decide if comfort is really worth what it’s costing. In my experience, often the change that’s waiting beyond the field of our comfort is better than anything within it.
So… identify the need, determine the cost, then actualise the upside of change.
May this article help you grow personally, in your career, and even more so if you run a business. May it help inspire you to take a good look at how you are doing things and re-evaluate. At SAU Digital, we’re good at this—so if you’re a business, get in touch. We are ready to help you grow.