There are so many cliches about living with change, and yet it continues to be one of the most difficult parts of our lives. Over and over again.
Today is Leap Day. It’s an unusual and special day which to the cynics of the world is no different from any other. But this additional day in the calendar gives us:
- ever elusive extra time
- a signal to think about what is unique
- opportunity for editorial and marketing specials (we consciously opted out at Oola)
- a reminder to appreciate how the universe is in charge and we learn more about it each year as scientists do their thing.
Regular readers will be aware of my small business journey already. But this week marks the end of my fourth month in business. It marks the change of seasons from summer to autumn, which in Australia officially begins March 1. And it marks my realisation that I have to grab the reigns and embrace scale. The theoretical argument is passing into reality. Reality that costs time, money, courage, and perseverance.
Here’s my personal guide to identifying the need for change.
1. Something doesn’t feel right.
You can’t argue with instinct. If your getting the feeling that something’s not right, go with it and figure out what’s actually not right. Whether good ol’ Myers Briggs scores you as Sensing or Intuitive, you have this ability. Trust it. This is the best time to act if you can embrace this first signal since you have the most control over your options.
2. Your To Do list is overwhelming.
Even the most efficient among us only get 24 hours in each day. And around eight of those need to be spent on sleeping. If you’re feeling like there are too many tasks that either take you too long or someone else could do better than you, evaluate the importance of your time and pay for some help. It might take you a bit of time to research the right partner in technology, design, PR, social media or otherwise, but the time will be returned to you when all of a sudden you’re getting better results in a fraction of the time.
3. You’ve developed a hypothesis, slept on it and tested it.
Once you suspect there’s something that needs improving, allow yourself a day to think about it, but don’t use that as an excuse to bury a potential problem. I’ve seen this in larger organisations where it’s often easier to hide than deal with an issue. In a small business, it can be devastating. Test your hypothesis right away. In the olden days (say 3 years ago), we would conduct market research or surveys or similar. Today, you can identify a cohort and reach them directly through a simple and inexpensive Google or Facebook ad, send them an email from your database, or create a simple online survey run from your website. Whether the challenge is your market or your passion, once you’ve confirmed your hypothesis, act now!
4. Your challenge elicits Fear.
When an instinct escalates to fear, you’re getting to a point of no return. The more personal the challenge is – I’m in the wrong career vs I’m losing money on my marketing campaign – the quicker the fear comes. Failure is as much a part of life as success, just not as celebrated.
Learn. Live. Move forward.
I had a diving coach who used to tell me, “the only thing we fear is the unknown”. This could not be more true.
And the one thing to ignore when these triggers are firing:
The myriad of voices from other people.
Let your network support you, encourage you, be a sounding board for you, but remember that they largely don’t have to live with your decision. As soon as we get to steps 1 and 2, we’re looking for external validation. It’s really easy to interpret everything around us as that validation. Find the facts that confirm your feelings.
I am ready to bring on some outside help on a contract, but regular basis to get things moving. It’s an important step, but one I’ve balked at despite the tasks I’m not so good at overwhelming those I enjoy. Despite having managed incredible change in large organisations for years, this change took me right back through the steps above as I identified my actual need and the solution.
Reading this by email, click here to share your thoughts on change in the comments.