EMBRACING CHANGE. To be a retailer, you must embrace change. You must continue to try new things and take risks. Pick up any book by Jim Collins or read any article about the “greats” in business and you will find one thing in common – they were not afraid to try new things. (plural) But the typical entrepreneur is afraid. That is why over 60% of all small businesses fail in the first few years and why the list of people on the “greats” list is pretty small. Harvard did a study a few years ago that showed that successful businesses went through 5 stages – Startup – Survival – Success – Investment – Growth.
Notice that there are 2 levels PAST success. Meaning that if you do not invest or adapt or change, you will go backwards into survival mode again. Here is where we see that risk-aversion kick in. We are so worried about the ship going down that we fail to see the tidal wave headed our way. The investment period described in this study showed that businesses that invested into themselves again continued to grow and those that did not went backwards. This investment includes trying new things and taking risks.
Now, don't close your laptop or turn off your smartphone and run off to make major changes to your business. Be responsible. The purpose of this article was to encourage you to not be afraid. In fact, we want to give you courage in the face of the unknown. I have tried many ideas in the past that did not work .But I built many successful ones because I continued to try even when I was wrong. And the scariest part, many of the best ideas came from my employees or customers!
But remember the reason it is risky – its change and change is always risky. And the more time you spend away from the front door of your store engaging customers by hiding in the back room with your paperwork, the more risky your decisions become. So tap into that entrepreneur spirit that launched you down this path in the first place. Set aside 1 week every year to go away and “reopen” your store. And by go away I mean literally go away. This cannot be done from the back room of the place you are trying to grow. This does not mean you need to change everything. In fact, when you go away, you may find many things work very, very well and what you need to do is build an infrastructure to keep them going strong.
But don’t be like the girl in the story about baking a ham. A young girl was watching her mom prepare a ham. Her mom cut both ends off the ham before placing it in the pan. “Why did you do that,” asked the young girl. The mom replied, “Well this is how my mother used to do it.” This led the little girl to go ask her grandmother, “Why do you cut the ends of the ham before you cooked it?” Grandma relied, “because that is the way my mother did it.” Lucky enough to have her great-grandmother alive, the little girl pressed on and asked her, “Why did you cut the ends off the ham before you cooked it?” Her great-grandmother smiled and simply said, “because dear, we had a very small pan and the ham would not fit.”
Rick Segal and Matt Hudson