The fun part about running a business is that there are always things that can be changed. The not-so-fun part about running a business is that there are always things that can be changed.
And, all too often, we make some changes without really thinking through why we’re making them.
Here are two basic questions to keep in mind when you’re contemplating making a change:
- Does the change benefit my customers?
- Does the change benefit my business?
If you get a No to both of them, then recognize that you’re changing for change’s sake. Get a hair cut – it’s cheaper and introduces novelty without the complexity and headaches.
If you get a Yes to the first question and a No to the second, go back to the drawing board. How can you make it a win for both of you?
If you get a Yes to the second question a No to the first, be very careful. There’s a good chance that you’re over-reacting or over-compensating. Changes in this zone generate short-term wins when effective and destroy trust and momentum rapidly when they’re ineffective. (Disregard this caution if it’s a mere internal process; buying cheaper envelopes that get the job done just as well aren’t a cause for concern.)
When you get a Yes to both questions, then it makes sense to make the change. Remember that you don’t have to change everything right away.
Dig a little deeper than just saying Yes or No to each question. Why does the proposed change benefit or not benefit the customer or your business?
People love the benefits of change but not the process of it. Make sure you’re clear that the juice is worth the squeeze before you make the change.
Al Pittampalli says
Great advice Charlie. I would point out another case where you might get a yes to 2nd question, and a no to the first: when you make a change to help your employees. For example closing a store on a holiday might not be good for the customer, but it would be for employees that will have that day to spend with their families. You could make the argument this might ultimately be good for business because of the improved morale.
Charlie Gilkey says
Great point, Al. Another way to look at it: more engaged employees deliver a better experience for your customers, so, in the end, the customers benefit, too.
Annie Smidt says
These are good questions. I also, of late, have needed for sanity’s sake, to fold in, “does this make progress towards my longer-term goals for my business?” (which is kind of like a combo of 1+2) and “will this support my personal needs?” (or something along those lines). There’s lots of things that I can do that benefit my biz and my customers but mean I’ll never sleep again… so I have to remember that piece!
As Al pointed out, sometimes making a change that just benefits the business/owner is more beneficial that trying to mosh together hybrid of the customer needs and my needs. I recently cut some services that some clients were attached to but were a total drain on my energy. It’s been tricky saying “no, I no longer offer that”, but overall I feel the doors open for drawing the right clients to me by making that change. A tricky act of balancing needs in times of change.
Archan Mehta says
Your post are always insightful, analytical and perceptive.
Staying close to the customer is important, even essential. Without customers, you don’t have a business, but it is equally important to take your employees into consideration.
So far, businesses have been focussed on serving only their stockholders. What about stakeholders? In other words, any company is also a part of the wider community, so community-building activities are important as well. Hence, the concept of corporate social responsibility (CSR)–a much-abused term these days, I am afraid.
Also, both the process and benefits or end result are important. An exclusive focus on customers will derail a business, so a long-term approach is essential. Finally, a business is all about creating and maintaining relationships: creating win-win situation for all the stakeholders, but this is easier said than done. Have a good one. Cheers.