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Change is a natural part of life (and business). When things change, plans might not work out like you envisioned. Here’s how to grow through the upsets of work and life and stay on track. 

“The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” -Robert Burns

Last month, we urged you to plan strategically for the coming year, advising you on how to set goals, stay on track, and continuously re-evaluate. But don’t we all know that in business (and in life), things hardly ever go as planned? Any tried-and-true entrepreneur will tell you that the one thing you can actually plan on IS change. So here’s how you can grow your business when the plan all goes to hell, whether from an unforeseen opportunity or a setback you never saw coming.

Growth Necessitates Change

You’ve heard of growing pains, right? Growth is painful because change is hard, writes Forbes contributor Tara-Nicholle Nelson, who goes on to identify four common reasons that we find change difficult:

  1. Changing “end(s) the world as we know it”.
  2. Transformation is risky and exposes us.
  3. Sometimes we don’t have the skills to meet our goals until growth occurs.
  4. Resistance to change sometimes surfaces as we grow.

In business, especially as a startup, growth is the goal. But that doesn’t make it easy, in fact, a surefire way to know that you are growing is to feel uncomfortable. And for many, fear surfaces when business doesn’t go as planned. Perhaps your startup has seen tremendous growth, or worse, no growth at all. Maybe business feels stagnant but you’re too scared of change to do anything about it.

Despite knowing that growth necessitates change, how can we evolve beyond our doubts into action? The short answer is: Embrace it. “If we fail to embrace change, we will miss those transformative opportunities and our businesses won’t be able to grow,” writes Inc., “Remember that change is where opportunity lives.”

Plan on Change

Embracing change in business means to prepare for – and accept- it. If you are prepared for change, your business model will be strategic or, proactive, rather than reactive. True, it’s impossible to predict all change headed your way. But that doesn’t mean that planning won’t help you when growth and change happens.  Successful startup founders are determined to succeed, no matter what and even if it involves change.

“We rarely know where the problem will occur or which event will fail to happen as planned. And this often causes us to put together success-based plans that don’t account for any deviations,” writes Jake Wilder. “The predictable failure never occurs…The purpose of planning then isn’t to develop plans, but options. Options that set us up to adapt to the changing circumstances that are sure to happen.” With a proactive mindset, you can manage your startup successfully through change by anticipating growth and identifying options.

Amit Kothari of Tallyfy says that proactive management, wherein a leader plans ahead, should consist of the following:

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Foresight

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Opportunism

 

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Risk Management

 

Think of these three factors as key areas to address when preparing for change at your startup. Foresight can allow you to make educated guesses on how certain conditions will affect your business. Opportunism will allow you to identify areas of growth, therefore anticipating certain probable outcomes. And risk management means controlling any negative effects that change brings to your organization.

Help Your Employees Embrace Change

Truth be told, it isn’t usually a startup founder themselves that struggles with change. Many entrepreneurs are definably adaptable. Rather, the problem when plans fail is communicating change to the employees at your business. Managing change often requires convincing your employees to embrace it, and that involves easing the fears of staff.

“Managing change means managing people’s fear.” – F. John Reh, The Balance Careers

One highly-advisable way to help your employees embrace change is to promote trust and transparency within your company culture. Foster trust with your employees by communicating with them in an authentic and meaningful way so that when change does occur, they are prepared to grow with you. Not all change is negative, but some is and you should own up to that. Sheryl Sandberg agrees, as she famously said, “Be a player, not a victim.” Sandberg means simply that leadership should own the blame and not pass it along. The kind of leaders who are willing to take the blame are the ones able to operate their companies from a place of power, in turn inspiring their employees to do the same.

When you prepare for change by proactively addressing the likelihood of it, your employees – and therefore, your business – is all the better for it.

Ready to Grow?

Growthwright is a business technology services provider and part of the Powered Health portfolio. Learn more about Growthwright and the services we offer to technology startups by clicking on the button below.

Amanda Bair is the Director of Marketing for Growthwright.

If you are a start-up looking for Marketing services, contact us here or email us.

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