Handling change in your business is a challenge because it stirs up your own emotions as well as your customer’s emotions. This week a client said to me that she was feeling off her game, uncertain about her expertise, and fearful of losing long-term customers. She is an experienced business owner with a decade of success, but she’s in a major change mode right now. So we talked about what to do when you start to feel on shaky ground as you are reinventing yourself and your business.
- Normalize the emotions you are feeling. Handling change in your business will give most of us periods of self-doubt. This is especially true if you have decided to reinvent your business for personal reasons – not because your business is off but because your own interests have changed somewhat and you have grown.
- Don’t be surprised when long term customers start to express unhappiness. Some people will love you in your new role and others will feel abandoned. This is really the tricky part of handling change in your business. You have to manage yourself well, feel that new ground you’re standing on, and hold that steady — all the while allowing your customers to process what is true for them, as well. You are in the middle of two changing energies that overlap.
- Handling change in your business means both making the business changes and coming to a higher level of confidence in yourself in the new role you’ve chosen. To navigate this well takes good self-care, enough belief in yourself that you’ll get through it, and managing your work load and personal life in a healthy and blended way. It also usually means setting new boundaries with your family, your spouse, your business partners, and your customers. This can be uncomfortable and you can expect push back from any of those groups. It’s critical that you take a deep breath and stand your ground.
- Customers need more than usual TLC (tender loving care) when you’re asking them to handle change, too. They are used to you running things a certain way, seeing you as often as they do, and getting the support and solutions they need from you. While you may want to reinvent your business you don’t want to lose your customer base. Pay attention to your customer service. Make sure orders or services are still being provided in their normal ways. Give customers a long lead time if you are changing the way they can expect to hear from you or be serviced by your business. Keep them informed about exactly what they can expect and when. Follow up to handle their questions and concerns. Consider a special event or a special offer to them as a part of your reinvention. What may feel like over communication to you is reassurance to your customers.
Handling change in your business means managing the changes within yourself while at the same time managing your customers as they begin to see and feel the effects of those changes. As a business owner you don’t have the luxury of going off and hiding until all the changes are made. You have to do it in real time – it’s a push for while. It's about staying steady in the moment and sometimes even sharing your discomfort with your customers, too. No drama or long-drawn out excuses. Just “it’s exciting to see my business change even though it’s created questions from some of my loyal customers.” Remember that your customers already know you, like you, and trust you. They are sensitive to changes that make them doubt their trust and your relationship. Weave your customers into the story of why you are changing to make handling change in your business go more quickly and smoothly.
Need help handling change or reinvention? You can invest in one single hour with me and we'll come up with some solutions to what's going on. Click here to get the details about how to do that.
You can read more about change and your business in another one of my blog posts, “Business Changes – How To Make Big Changes in Your Small Business” by clicking here. Want more? Here's an article from Psychology Today I like. And here's a list of articles about change and reinvention from the Huffington Post.
Do you have a story about how you handled a reinvention of your business? Please share it below, I’d love to know about it and give others a chance to know what you are doing that’s new! Be sure to include the link to your new business offerings, too.