How to Manage and Survive Business Changes

Change is the only thing constant. One major unforeseen event or a series of small imperceptible events can lead to a massive change that can significantly affect your business. A devastating fire, a legal edict against your business or the emergence of a giant competitor can all ruin your business. Smaller and sometimes unrelated factors like a new social media platform, the micro-housing trend or the country’s next election can have the same upsetting effect to your well-planned and well-controlled enterprises.

Changes in the industry and the entire business environment can upset your business plans, strategies and structure. Some changes and transformations are so profound that it can immediately ruin your business.

Kodak didn’t anticipate mobile phone cameras and digital imaging. Blackberry failed to keep up with the competition. Blockbuster and other video rental companies never thought Netflix could cause their downfall. And the newspaper and other printing companies used to be the most influential and dominant of businesses.

Can you ensure your company’s safety against changes? No. Tomorrow will certainly come, but the future is never promised.

What you can do is to try to minimise the negative effect of the change to your company. Here are the three key factors that will determine how you can manage and survive changes;

Company Resilience

The bamboo survives strong winds by not fighting it. How far can you bend? Can your company accommodate sudden and massive changes? To be resilient, a company needs to be stable enough. Change can be in the form of a new upstart competitor, if you are relying on few large clients, one or two defections could immensely affect your output. If the change comes in the form of social media prevalence, your reliable and time-tested marketing strategy could be a big waste of money. Instead of fighting the storm, hunker down and find ways how you can ride the winds. Anticipate changes and build up your stability.

Response Speed

Change – whether it is beneficial or damaging to the business can happen when you least expect it to. Missed opportunities will eventually be taken up by your competitors. While letting detrimental factors creep up will further ruin your chances of recovery. Dexterity is a factor that can determine if you are the industry leader or a slow follower. Sometimes, during critical situations, only your agility can save your company from total ruin. Had an encyclopaedia company established a website at the onset of the internet, Wikipedia and other sites will only be non-authority secondary copycats. Had Blackberry anticipated and kept up with the aggressive marketing of its strongest competitors Apple and Samsung, it would still enjoy its considerable market share today.     

Outlook toward Change

Do you see change as an adversary or an opportunity? Most people hate change. When we have developed our system and reached the sweet spot, we are not likely to give it up. It is always a struggle to get out of our comfort zones. That is why we instinctively fight change. As a manager and entrepreneur, you must realise that growth and opportunities happen during upheavals and that comfort zones do not exist in business. The most successful business leaders are those who embrace and welcome change. They are the trailblazers and the innovators. They not just anticipate change, they make the change.

There is no winning against change other than embracing it. And the sooner you accept the transformation, the better you cope with it. Today’s fast changing technology can be a gift or a curse – depending on how you see it and on how you can use it to your advantage.