After 8+ years of being the owner of a small business, there are a ton of lessons I’ve learned. Many of them have been critical in keeping my business going as long as it has. Some of the most critical lessons have been things like understanding value vs price, and the importance of knowing when to pivot and adopt new things. But perhaps the most important lesson I’ve learned as a business owner and personally is the one thing I should never do.
Of course, I’ve learned this lesson the way many of us do, the hard way. And just what is the one thing you should never do?
Never forget that things change.
Duh! Sounds like a no-brainer doesn’t it? But before you write this blog post off as a sensationalized headline with fluff for filling, give me a few more minutes of your time.
Telling you to never forget that things change may sound silly, after all, we all know that don’t we? We do, but often we fail to apply that knowledge to different aspects of our business. Let me give you a few examples.
For many of us, finding and keeping our first few clients was a struggle. Marketing, that dirty word, was often frustrating and unfruitful. There were days when we questioned our decision to start a business, our ability to run one and our sanity in general. Then, suddenly, we had a client. Then two, which led to more. Our hard work paid off and our business was off the ground. Our days were now filled with providing services to clients and the days of endless, frustrating marketing were a thing of the past. And some of us forgot that things change. Until the day that one or more of your clients explain that they no longer require your services and suddenly you are in a panic. You’ve gotten too comfortable and assumed things would remain the same in the client department. Plus, you were so relieved that you no longer were dealing with the frustrations of marketing that you just didn’t market at all anymore. Now you find yourself back where you started, searching for new clients to fill the huge gaps in your client base and the frustration begins again.
Of course the answer to this vicious cycle is to never stop marketing. Even when your client base is full. What?! Yup. The cool thing is that continuing to market when you have steady clients isn’t frustrating or stressful at all. Yet it helps set you up for the day when one of your clients has changes in their own business and your services are no longer required.
Need another example? I’ll give you a personal one. One that just recently happened to me.
Alongside my online technology services I build WordPress websites. Years ago my experience trying to build on GoDaddy hosting was so atrocious (not to mention their sexist ad campaigns at that time being highly offensive) that I began recommending that those interested in building with WordPress look elsewhere for their hosting. My recommendation then was HostGator. Time went by. EIG bought Hostgator and the service went from being stellar to being mediocre at best. And then GoDaddy hired a new CEO with a vision of transforming the company. I started hearing small rumors that the hosting there was undergoing change, but my prior experience made me reluctant to give them a second chance. Finally, after talking to some GoDaddy reps at WordCamp Maine as well as a couple of fellow WordCamp attendees I decided I should give GoDaddy a second chance. I purchased the managed WordPress hosting for my personal arts & crafts blog right along with my domain name. I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find that I’m very happy with the new GoDaddy in terms of the WordPress Managed hosting and their customer service. In fact, I believe I’ll be adding them to my list of suitable hosts once again.
There are other examples. New software that might be a big benefit to your business but you cling to your old favorite (ahem! WordPerfect users…), letting go of that business line for a cell phone, believing your business doesn’t have to worry about an up to date website, or worse doesn’t need a website at all. All of these are examples of not embracing the fact that things change…and changing with them.
Never forget. Businesses change. Things change. Instead of viewing change as risky, scary or unneeded, we need to embrace it to keep our businesses fresh, pertinent and most of all, alive.