Change is going to happen. To your business. To the way you are doing things. To your family. And in every part of the life you live. I’m going to Share a story about some change I am going through now, and how this is all just the latest in a lifetime of change that I’ve learned to handle by taking advice from some of the very best in the business.
I won’t pretend that change is easy – often it’s not. But because it is inevitable, it’s good to have the skills to handle it when it comes.
“Our dilemma is that we hate change and love it at the same time; what we really want is for things to remain the same but get better.” -Sydney J. Harris
Ask any teenager on a weekend or during school holidays how they are feeling and you’ll hear the words, “I’m bored” over and over again.
Boredom isn’t just a teenage thing. We complex adults can get bored too – even when we’re really busy. Like the quote above, we prefer not to change, but we also crave it. It’s part of the human condition.
But because we crave security and reassurance, the fear of change often stops us from undertaking controlled changes.
Which then leaves us reeling with shock when unplanned changes come – especially for our businesses.
The changes I am currently going through
For the last 7 years, I have grown a digital marketing business from myself to some 30 contractors and the occasional employee. Growth is messy in business, especially when your margins are low and your expenses are big.
While the pandemic was great for digital agencies, web designers and social media people, not all of us grew in sustainable ways.
By adding people to solve my problems, instead of spending time working out how to more efficiently do more work with what I had, I found myself with a huge payroll each month but also having to chase clients for late payments. It kept getting worse until finally, I had to admit that the stress was affecting my health.
That’s when I ended up with COVID-19 myself earlier this year. And it didn’t just pass within a week. It hung around and floored me for 7 weeks. I still worked, but the stress slowed down my healing.
So much so that I ended up in hospital on oxygen a few times because I simply wasn’t allowing myself to get better.
What was the result?
Not having a strong team culture, my contractors saw the writing on the wall and used this downtime to find other projects to work on. I was left with 17 projects to do and no one to work on them.
I cancelled 16 of the 17 projects out of desperation. I am likely to lose the 17th as well and be considerably out of pocket to that client. But now things are clearing up, I may be able to save that project and deliver it for them. Fingers crossed!
Why this all could have been avoided
Apart from not taking time to manage my health, this whole drama could have been avoided by not taking on so much work at once. Early 2022 looked amazing. A strong pipeline of work for six months.
But I didn’t plan for 6 months. I had planned to get it all done in just 3 months. I overpromised. So when COVID hit me, that 3 months turned into 6 months. Clients can’t wait forever. I was seriously under-delivering on my promises. My clients definitely deserved better.
Managing change before it manages you
Change will happen.
It’s the nature of life. Whether it’s a pandemic, a labour shortage, new government, downsizing at work or a partner leaving you, you can’t completely avoid change.
I am managing my changes now. And you can too.
The best time to begin managing your change was 6 months ago. The second best time is today.
How you manage change is by:
- Understanding that it is going to happen
- Ensuring your business is not exposed to just one source of revenue
- Planning for change by diversifying your skills
- Having more than one way to make money from your niche
- Be more married to your life, than your business activities
- Build changes into your business regularly so that you’re sharp and ready when changes happen from the outside
I have a big year of changing and pivoting and learning ahead of me as I move away from being a labour-heavy digital agency to a Company of One focused on training, mentoring and speaking.
You have a chance now to plan out what you are doing to do for the next 6 months. Use the end of the Financial Year as a milestone.
Dante St James is the founder of Clickstarter, a Meta Certified Lead Trainer, a Community Trainer with Meta Australia, a digital advisor with Business Station, an accredited Digital Solutions advisor and presenter, and the editor at The Small Marketer. You can watch free 1-hour webinars and grow your digital skills at Dante’s YouTube Channel.
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