As a business owner, you need to worry about more than just how your company currently operates — you also need to look ahead to how you’ll perform in the future. The more you can anticipate the changing needs of your clients, your employees and the economy, the better prepared you are to take on any challenges that come your way.
The only constant in the world of business is the certainty of change. If you don’t create a plan for how to prepare for change, your company will fall behind and be at risk of disruption by competitors who are committed to strategic innovation. Whether you are preparing for positive changes (the explosive growth of your business), negative changes (a dip in the economy) or neutral changes (the shifting needs of your target market), being prepared is the key to ongoing success.
As Tony says, “Leaders anticipate and losers react.” Anticipation equals power and gives you an opportunity to turn potential problems into opportunities. When you begin to anticipate and prepare for change in your industry, you’ll find yourself better equipped to adapt your strategy to ensure long-term success. Your ultimate competitive advantage is anticipation, so here are Tony’s nine business triggers to be aware of and routinely evaluate.
The first trigger you need to prepare for is a change in your competition. You might be offering more value than your current competitors, but are you keeping an eye out for emerging companies? For instance, consider the initial appeal of Netflix. If you were operating a Blockbuster, you might have had a devoted following and offered superior products when compared to your top competitor, Hollywood Video. However, you weren’t aware a company like Netflix would come blow you out of the water.
How to prepare for change in the workplace means constantly staying ahead of industry trends and watching out for emerging competitors. If a new business does gain prominence, don’t brush them off just because you’re currently at the top of the industry. Instead, look at what they’re doing, like mailing DVDs directly to customers’ homes, and see if your company could gain value from any new practices.
How do you prepare for change? Even if you’re using cutting-edge technology, you have to acknowledge that these tools may one day be obsolete. VHS tapes quickly progressed to DVDs, which ultimately led the way for digital streaming services. The next trend will likely be 3D and virtual reality viewing experiences. Regardless of what product or service you’re selling, have you thought about how your chosen field’s technology may change? Not if, but when it does change, how will your business be ready to evolve?
Preparing an organization for change requires thinking about the culture you’re catering to. What does your culture value? What will people pay money for, and why? How is this culture different from previous generations, and how will it continue to change over time?
Several decades ago, it was a treat for families to go out to the movies together. With the rise of digital technology, many people prefer to stay home and stream the latest movies. Brands like Amazon and Netflix make it easy for users to pay for a subscription or make one-time movie purchases. They have anticipated their current clients’ needs and still provide a convenient reliable service. However, those in the streaming industry must now prepare for change by looking forward to what our culture will value next year and the year after that.
The economy is constantly fluctuating. There will be periods of recession and growth, no matter your industry. How to prepare for change in the workplace when the economy shifts is vital to your success. How do you prepare yourself for these inevitable changes? How can you confidently pay your team to perform well while still making sure you protect the business from possible financial obstacles? How can you make your employees and customers feel certainty even in uncertain times?
These are the questions you need to ask yourself so you’re fully prepared for periods of both abundance and loss. For example, if you work at Netflix and the economy crashes, how will you continue to cater to clients looking to cut back on luxuries? Do you offer special low rates for new subscribers? Do you release a limited series to keep the attention of current viewers? Find strategies that can help you succeed no matter the economic climate.
As Tony often says, your customer’s life is your business’ life. Who is the target demographic for your product or service? If you’re Netflix, you’re most likely trying to reach adults in their 20-40s. How do you prepare for change based on your customers’ shifting habits and lives? Are they watching more or less programming after they experience major life events like graduating college or having a child? Are you losing customers as they get married, because they now only need one account instead of two? Your customers’ lives are going to change, so your offerings should anticipate these developments.
Preparing an organization for change also means anticipating how the lives of your employees are going to change. As a business owner, it’s your duty to take care of your team. Things happen in life — babies are born, people get married, some will battle health scares. Or maybe a key staff member unexpectedly leaves the company. No matter the event, you have to analyze the landscape and expect internal change. If you rely too closely on one employee, or neglect the needs of a department, it’s not going to work.
Figure out how to balance the needs of the company while still realizing that your employees are people with their own lives happening behind the scenes. If you work to create an organizational culture that’s accommodating, your employees will want to stay on board even in the event of a major change.
As a leader, how to prepare for change in the workplace means ensuring your personal needs for growth are taken into consideration. Have you hit a plateau in your career? Do you feel like you need to go off on an exotic sojourn or take some time to yourself? Even if these things seem unrealistic with your current schedule, you have to plan for them. There will come a day when you need to step back from work and hand the reins over to someone else. Anticipate this need ahead of time so the company can continue successfully operating during your absence.
While growing mindfully and in a scalable way is the easiest form of growth to handle, some businesses will experience unanticipated explosive growth. Others will not grow as they hoped and reach a point of stagnation. Preparing an organization for change means anticipating both possibilities. Growing too quickly can exhaust your resources and staff while stagnating can impact morale and negatively affect profits.
How to prepare for change in the workplace means staying flexible. Though you may think you’re set with the array of products or services you offer, you never know when your team will come up with something new. If you aren’t prepared to shift your focus, identify new markets and access needed resources to incorporate these changes, you could lose out on vital growth opportunities. Every great company fosters an innovation culture, but you must have a plan for supporting these innovations to truly succeed.
Now that you know what common triggers are that require a plan for how to prepare an organization for change, here are some tips on how to achieve it.
To anticipate and prepare for change based on your client’s shifting lives and habits, develop buyer personas to really hone in on your ideal customers. Once you know who you’re selling to, you can better plan for how their needs will change over time. For example, if one of your buyer personas is a female college student, you can anticipate her buying habits will change once she graduates and starts her career and/or grows her family.
How to prepare for change means having one or more people on your team who is constantly searching the horizon for what’s next. If your business is small, you may just have one person in charge of identifying triggers that will necessitate change. A larger company may have an entire department. As a leader, you can’t take sole responsibility for preparing an organization for change. Use your resources and tap those who can help you anticipate your company’s future.
When a valued member of your staff goes through a life change or leaves your company, it can throw everything into disarray. Prevent your team from relying too heavily on one or two key employees by creating a cross-functional team where there is plenty of overlap. This allows team members to share duties and ensures that even if an employee leaves abruptly, there will be someone to step in until a replacement can be hired.
To prepare for change that involves your growth as a leader, develop a personal growth plan and see how that matches up with the plan for your business. Do you need to devise an exit strategy that will allow you to pursue other dreams? Is part of your vision teaching your children how to run your business so they can eventually take over? If so, when will you begin their training? Making sure personal and professional develop plans coincide will prevent future clashes between what you feel obligated to do and what brings you personal fulfillment.
“People who succeed at the highest level are not lucky. They’re doing something differently than everyone else,” says Tony. The only certainty in business is that things will continue to change. If you learn how to prepare for change in the workplace, you will become better able to make the right decisions when needed. Prepare yourself by becoming familiarized with these nine business triggers and watch as your company thrives.
Attend Business Mastery and learn strategies to prepare for change and evolve so you can build a business that thrives – no matter the circumstances.