We know that the only constant is change. But also, we know that change is feared. (By some, not all)
Why is this?
Very simply, it’s because change takes us from what we know, whether that place be good or bad, to the unknown.
I suspect a lot of us will have seen change in the organisations where we’ve worked. For myself, the place where I spent the majority of my employed life was constantly changing – we managed external funding and had to adapt to fit the funding requirements. I certainly built up an acceptance and resillience to change – but still, not knowing where the change would take me personally could sometimes induce anxiety and stress.
I wanted to write this blog today to say we still need to embrace change. Even though we might have been through stressful change processes in our lives and running our own business may seem like a more comfortable place to be – it’s likely that we’ll need to make certain changes over time in order to receive the results we desire.
I’ve called on some business owners today to tell their stories of how change has impacted them and their businesses because it’s quite natural to feel quite alone when you’re making big decisions about your business, but in reality, a lot of business owners are going through this process too.
Jeremy Parkin of Parapex Media decided to turn his hobby into his main business. Jeremy says -
“In September 2018 I chose to leave a potentially long-term IT job, which at the age of 54 with no new full-time job to may seem fool-hardy. However, I have always had a second income source in the background, and the decision was to make it my primary income.
This necessitated a significant period of change. What was previously an evening and weekend supplementary income now demanded proper business development to provide a permanent sustainable income. I had to ensure that I spent my time carefully - transitioning a hobby to a business and setting up all the relevant business processes that I needed: admin; developing a website, paying people, checking my bank statements, answering the phone, etc.
It wasn't that I was unaware of what was needed, it was more about the mindset and discipline required to achieve it.
Now I have the reward of flexibility in terms of work location, times of the day that I work, and even using virtual assistants who are better at certain tasks I don't get a buzz out of!”
Catherine Gladwyn of Delegate VA evolved her core business. She now mentors others in addition. Catherine says -
“Initially I was solely a full-time virtual assistant, earning more than enough to live comfortably and had created a healthy working life which was the reason why I started the business in the first place. I could still remember how hard it was being an employee - that Sunday night dread, difficult colleagues and with various health conditions I struggled to get to and from work - but because I've created this life I wanted to help others too.
I decided to evolve/change my business. In 2018 wrote a book to help other people start and run their own VA business with practical tips and my own experiences. Fast forward a few months the book became an award-winning Amazon bestseller and has enabled me to build a following of people that 'get me' because my book is written in my tone of voice and is based on my own experiences. As a result of that I've started a paid membership group for people that have already started their VA business and are looking to evolve it to the next level - to be full-time business owners, and work with their own associates.
Not only did this change/addition to my business enable me to create an additional arm to my business but has also elevated my VA business and brought a steady stream of clients, with new enquiries coming in more often.”
I asked Catherine a couple of extra questions about her decision to change:
How long did you think about writing your book before you did it? “Five minutes in bed one morning - once I set myself a goal, I always see it through.”
How did it make you feel? “I went through various stages, and never expected it to be as well received as it was. I set myself a goal initially of selling one!”
Are you happy with the choice you made? “Very!”
Helen Nurse of Capture 1 changed her business due to personal, health, industry and economic reasons. Helen says -
“We started our video and media production company in 2000 and for the first 8 years we grew steadily as a business, gaining a great reputation and some fantastic clients. When the recession hit, we started to notice a slight change in business generally. We then had personal circumstances that affected how we were running our business; including having children and health issues in the family and with one of our children being diagnosed with a serious illness. The result of this, coupled with significant changes in our industry meant that we realised we had to change how we ran operationally. We had always employed our own staff previously - had teams of people working on a job. However, a lot of new competitors were entering the video space and charging much less than was previously the benchmark, This, along with economical changes, meant that client budgets were decreasing and a lot were choosing to take work in house or cut back on using video in the way they had previously.
It took us a couple of years to fully implement the changes that have resulted in our business today: We scaled down our staff, working with them freelance rather than employing them. We scaled down our office, moving to smaller premises. We chose to position ourselves closer to our home and children’s school so we could have a better work life balance, more flexibility in working day and save significantly on travel.
We now operate in a very lean and focused manner; rather than having to make a certain level of monthly fees, we can focus on taking on work we want to do, that provides a decent budget and values the service with clients we want to work with. We have less jobs but are making more money and have more time and work life balance!
Part of this is a result of how business operations in general have changed in the last 20 years. We can now work from anywhere; we don’t need to have the huge expanse of kit and computer editing suites that we once had. Marketing and sales work is less face to face networking and meetings and more virtual - this means we can be more flexible.
The change we have been through as a company has been driven by a combination of personal circumstances and lifestyle changes and business and economic changes in the wider industry. I used to feel awkward saying we had no staff and being obviously much smaller operationally, however I have come to realise that this allows us to offer clients best solution at best price, so we can pass on the savings to them. They also deal more directly with Brett, who with over 20 years’ experience is able to offer his wealth of expertise and experience and a personal service, benefitting our clients. It has made us far more successful and sustainable for both ourselves and our clients!”
And my own story of change is one I tell often. I originally started a business as a Virtual Assistant in 2015. I’d been made redundant in 2011 whilst on maternity leave, I’d taken some time to be a mum to my son and eventually decided to set up business for myself. In 2017, I took a long hard look at that business – and even though it was successful and would be sustainable, I asked myself if I could see myself still doing this in 5 or 10 years. The answer was no! The work didn’t bring me joy. The work that did bring me joy was working with clients on a totally different level – looking at their growth and development. So I needed a complete change of business. I felt fear as I was starting from scratch again in a different market and I knew I would have to market my services quite differently to how I had in the past. But I’ve not looked back and as time goes on, I’m presented with more and more lovely opportunities.
A big thank you to Jeremy, Catherine and Helen for sharing their stories.
I hope this blog helps you to recognise change – how change comes in lots of different forms but how vital it can be to moving your business forward and helping you to thrive. Do comment below if you’ve implemented change to develop your business, or if you feel you need to.
Hi, I’m Fay!
I’m a business coach and adviser and I’m here to help you grow your business with clarity and confidence.
I’ve worked with business owners just like you for over 20 years.
I know that you started your business for flexibility and satisfaction and to live your purpose. You have a fabulous business idea that your ideal clients should love.
But you’re frustrated becuase it now feels daunting and overwhelming - there’s so much to do and you’re just not sure if all these things you’re doing are the right things.
I do know how you feel, and I’d love to take you from this confusion to creating a clear direction to develop the business you’ve always had in mind.