How to Bring Positive Change to Your Business

by Mamta Saha, business psychologist and founder of Think Spa London

To quote the great thinker Edward De Bono; standing still can be the fastest way of moving backwards. This is more applicable than ever to today’s business world, where change is often taking place at a faster rate than ever before.

Small businesses in particular need to have the willingness to embrace fresh ideas and opportunities to keep them innovating and developing their services so they can compete with larger players in their marketplace. Recent research from T-Mobile of over 2,000 small business owners found 20% of small business owners admit to worrying about change and 9% are prevented from making changes as they believe they won’t be welcomed by others in the company.

With an inability to cope with change being a psychological issue, here is my advice to help small business owners make positive changes for the benefit of the bottom line of their business, as well as for staff, their customers and, of course, themselves:

  1. Learn from the past

It is natural to fear change and risk taking. To address this, you should look back on the risks and decisions that you have made in the past and that have ultimately got you to where you are today. Assessing what has worked in the past should give you confidence in your ability to make positive change and teach you to trust your intuition, which may have served you well in the past.

  1. Be open to the possibility of failure

Positive change isn’t necessarily brought about by the ‘right’ decision, and it’s very rare that everything goes according to plan. Instead, take heart in the fact that, even if a decision doesn’t go initially as planned, it will likely provide some valuable lessons or opportunities for the future.

  1. Take a step back

When you’re too close to a subject your perception is bound to be warped, and your judgement can become clouded. Try removing yourself from the immediate situation, (sometimes physically) to overcome this. Take ten minutes out of the office or jot-down your thought process to distance yourself from what’s happening. A detached, objective viewpoint will lead to a more informed decision and could help you notice potential ‘blindspots’, which have prevented you from making effective changes.

  1. Share your enthusiasm with others

Optimism is contagious. Thankfully, 81% of small business owners describe themselves as naturally optimistic. As a leader, you should look to share this enthusiasm by connecting with staff as individuals – tailoring incentives and personalising communication and feedback. As staff become more engaged, they’ll be more willing to promote a culture of change and embrace new ideas in your business.

  1. Trust your gut

Whether you coin it ‘intuition’, your ‘gut instinct’ or just a ‘hunch’, the conviction that an idea could float or sink is something you should pay attention to. While gut instinct is closely linked to passion and commitment, which can lead to an inner clarity or decisiveness, it should always be counter-balanced with a sense of what’s realistic for your business.

  1. Increase your Vitamin D uptake

Scientists have proven that those with higher levels of serotonin are more optimistic and therefore more likely to take a positive approach to change. You can boost your own serotonin levels from Vitamin D by getting some sun and eating foods naturally high in this such as salmon. This will help put you in a different frame of mind – one more receptive to the positive potential of new ideas.

  1. Take the time to listen

Listening to those around you is not only a great source of inspiration, it’s also vital for sourcing how individuals can make a difference within the company going forward. Communal activities like a team day away from the office are invaluable in establishing a team ethos and getting a chance to hear from staff at all levels. If you get a sense that your staff are hungry for changes, this will help propel you to make them.

  1. Don’t assume the market will be against you

Rather than assuming the economy or marketplace is set against you, opening up your thinking to the possibility that there are lots of stakeholders out there who want you to succeed, including the Government, your local community and suppliers to small businesses. Look for new deals, offers, advice and services that suit your needs rather than sticking with the same old options.

  1. Communicate your situation

Just talking to an expert in your field, a business consultant or an old friend can help you gain the confidence to push your business forward. If you are facing a difficult time in your business, the fresh perspective can help highlight areas that need change.

  1. Don’t get complacent

Finally, according to T-Mobile’s research, 23% of business owners describe themselves as too busy to make positive changes to their business. However, avoiding change isn’t just a means of staying put; it’s a recipe for getting overtaken by the competition. Within today’s economy, those businesses pushing innovation and new ways of working will come out on top while the rest are left behind.

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