8 Easy Steps to Create a Change Strategy for Your Business
Learn how to embrace change in your business
Do you want to know what the difference is between a company that’s successful and one that isn’t? It all comes down to change. If you’re not open to change, then your business will be stagnant. You need a certain degree of flexibility in order for your business to thrive.
Many people believe that they are open to change, but when something truly disruptive happens (like the pandemic or the latest Apple update), they find themselves in an all-out panic.
The trick is not to think you are adaptable to change but to actually develop a change strategy, which is what we are covering in this post.
By following these tips, you can be confident not only during but after any changes — and make sure they work out for the better!
Advantages of having an effective change strategy
There are many benefits of having a change strategy for your business:
- Your business is adaptable to changing circumstances
- Your staff can learn new skills and become resilient in the face of change
- It may result in your business operations improving with time
- You may see some growth in sales with new strategies
- It can open the door to reach new markets and expand
- Change often leads to new opportunities
- Your business might save money by doing things differently
- The culture in the workplace may improve
- It’s an opportunity to let go of things that are holding the business back
Disadvantages of change
When you implement change in the business, be prepared to face some of these:
- Team members may struggle to adapt to new processes
- It can be time-consuming
- Change can sometimes be overwhelming
- Staff may not be convinced that the new way is better
- Higher risk of errors as everyone adjusts — potentially more customer complaints
- It’s still a gamble as with many things related to business
- You may need to spend more money to implement a new system etc.
Two types of change
There are two main types of change that you need to be prepared for:
Change that happens to you
These are all the unexpected things that can happen in life and some of them are extremely difficult to be prepared for.
Some examples include:
- Building damage from extreme weather (flooding, fire etc.)
- Loss of assets (laptop gets stolen, cell phone breaks etc.)
- Competitor opens up right next to your shop
- A product is invented that makes your service practically obsolete
- Social media platform changes
- Your best salesperson/general manager or your key staff member resigns
Change that you choose
These are strategic changes that you make to improve your business and are to be encouraged.
Here are some ways to choose positive change. And note, many of these are part of a robust change strategy!
- Training multiple staff to be competent so that if a key player leaves, the work can be redistributed without too much disruption
- Ensuring you have appropriate insurance for your business property and assets
- Investing in online marketing
- Investing in having an online offer or shop so that if lockdowns happen, you can still sell your products/services
- Not allowing one customer to make up more than 30% of your monthly revenue (otherwise if they leave, your business is in danger!)
- Staying up to date with industry changes so that you can upgrade or uplevel continually
- Refining and improving your processes for greater efficiency
- Cutting down on waste
The best thing you can do is to anticipate change before it becomes business-critical. Here are some ways to do this.
8 steps to create a change strategy for your business
Before you make any big (or small) changes, you need to get a bird’s eye view of where your company is at. You need to audit your processes from marketing, sales and customer service to see where the gaps lie.
It’s important that you are honest with yourself when you do this, otherwise, the entire exercise won’t work. You need to actively look for recurring mistakes, a pattern in customer complaints, whether a specific staff member is performing way above (or below) the average and so much more.
As this process can be extremely time-consuming and even expensive, select a specific aspect of the business that you want to improve first. Choose something that will most likely have the biggest impact on making sales. You can move on to other things later but for now, focus on one main thing that you believe needs a revamp.
Compile a list of all the aspects you need to audit, and then go through them with a fine-tooth comb, noting your findings.
Remember, this is not about finding fault with people or assigning blame. The purpose of this first step is to take an honest look at what is working and what isn’t so that you can make changes that improve the business as a whole.
Once you have a list of all the things that you feel could be improved upon, you need to create a plan of action to get those things fixed.
For example, if you decide to implement a new CRM system, you’ll need to investigate options, subscribe to the new software, organise training etc.
Before implementing changes, be mindful of your staff and also their current workload. December is usually the busiest time of the year for product-based businesses, and would not be the ideal time to completely overhaul your business!
Schedule a meeting and discuss with your staff what your audit revealed and why you need to make changes.
Highlight the benefits of the change (it’s not just about saving or making you money, it has to help them in some way).
Get their buy-in from the start because many people are highly resistant to change so you need to win people over before you tear down what they’ve become accustomed to.
4. Receive feedback
And on that note, be open to feedback! Maybe you’ve researched a particular software but a staff member knows of something similar that could work as well (but cheaper) or even better (at roughly the same price).
It’s possible that your staff have always been thinking: “Why on earth do we have to do this the long, hard way” but have been too scared to suggest doing things differently.
Invite them to share their best ideas with you, and you might be amazed at their good suggestions.
Emphasise that you will not accept cutting corners or implementing suggestions that will compromise quality in any way, but it does mean that you are open to hearing if they know a quicker or easier way of doing things.
5. Create a roadmap
Now that you know what needs to change and how you want things to change, you can create a roadmap that details the updated plan and sets deadlines. This way your staff and any external people involved in the change can be on the same page.
It also ensures that everyone knows what their involvement is and responsibilities are, and promotes working towards the change as a team.
The next step is to take action on the roadmap and implement the changes. Notify your customers should any of the changes affect how they do business with you.
Even at this point, you need to remain adaptable to change, as something might come up that you hadn’t thought of before.
At all times, communicate with your staff about test runs, go-Live dates, new documents to read and acknowledge and so forth.
7. Train staff
Once the changes have been implemented, ensure that all your staff members are trained on the new way of doing things. If necessary, do in-person training but you can also record videos. Have staff members sign a training log to prove that you trained them.
You might also have to perform competency tests which is when the staff demonstrate to you that they know the new system/procedure/process. In this case, they will need to complete their training log and a competency log.
If the process is highly technical, then ensure that you perform quarterly/semi-annual or annual refresher training and/or competency tests to ensure compliance (this will form part of your business quality control process).
8. Assess the change implementation
Once the change is implemented, all staff are trained and it’s up and running, all you need to do is monitor and assess the impact of the change. Ascertain whether people are doing things the new way, or whether they are falling back into the pattern of how it used to be done.
Use analytics or reports to determine the time/cost saving of the changes you have implemented.
Once you are satisfied, you can repeat steps 1–8 for a different focus of your business. Continue to do so until you have worked your way through all the areas of your business that need improving.
The takeaway on creating a change strategy
It’s easy to look at change as the enemy. But the truth is, it’s an opportunity for growth and strength.
Change can happen in your business when you least expect it, or when you’re actively looking for it. The beauty of change is that even if we don’t like what happens to us, we always have a choice to perceive these events as positive experiences in our business.
Having a robust change strategy will help buffer your business from the storms and empower you to run your operations in a lean, efficient manner.