I can feel the changes of fall in the air and on my skin. It’s been slowly building up for weeks, long before the Fall Equinox hit on the 21st, but transitions can happen that way. They slowly sneak up on you building in the background until all of a sudden you realize something is different. Then again, there are times when a change, a transition, hits you out of nowhere with no time to adjust.
That’s life. You never know what you’re going to get.
As business owners transitions are a part of the game. It could be thrusted upon us like the whole of 2020 or one that slowly sneaks into our hearts, telling us that it’s time to make a change in our brands or in our lives. No matter what form it comes in, the call of a transition comes to us.
The Need For Change
Maybe it’s because it’s fall and we feel a change around us, but so many brand owners I’m speaking with are ready for a change in their business. Some are wanting a complete overhaul of what they offer, others are ready to slow down so they can find rest, and some just need to find something new, something that works, even if it’s only a small change.
For many, change feels scary and intimidating. But in so many ways it’s a beautiful thing. It allows you the freedom to create, problem-solve, and discover something completely new. But even in all this change, there are ways to set yourself up for success and take a little bit of the risk out of the equation.
Setting Up For Transitions
Before making any drastic changes to your business you’re going to want a plan. To know everything there is to know about what the change in your business will look like so that you can make confident decisions. This is my three-step transition plan.
Get the Analytics
It starts with numbers or data of any form. Look at what your business is doing now. What’s working, what’s not. Find out how close you are to your definition of success (amount of hours working, hitting your cap income, etc). Look at the ROI of your marketing and your time spent in all areas of your business.
You want to have a really good handle on where your business is at this moment (even if you’re just starting out). Understand where your time is spent, where your money is coming from and going to and have an idea of what you are trying to build. What’s the cap amount of money you need to make? How many employees do you want to have? How big do you want to grow this? Most importantly, remember that these goals can change over time.
Ask The People What They Want
Your customers are the only reason you have a business and you don’t want to lose all the amazing people who have helped you build your business to this point, even if it’s just a handful of them. Find out what they want. Talk to your customers and find out what they like and what needs are still not being met. Write down all your frequently asked questions and think if there is a new product you could offer to solve the problems or if there’s simply something you could make more clear in your current strategy to solve those pain points.
I love creating short surveys with Google Forms and sending them out to an email list or messaging them directly to my favorite customers (my ideal customers). This always helps me get an idea of what people want more of, what they want less of and any areas that I could be going deeper or providing new offerings. I also keep an ear out for what I get asked for often to see if that’s something I would like to offer or could potentially partner with someone else who offers it.
Make a Slow Transition
I say this with a grain of salt. Obviously, in 2020 all transitions were done quickly without much notice. Business owners did whatever they could to stay alive during a historic moment. I don’t expect moments like that to happen often so in most cases I suggest a slow transition.
If you produce a newsletter a week then maybe 1 newsletter a month will start talking about the new product/service/topic you’d like to add to your business or transition to fully. Mention it on your website but don’t make it the front and centerpiece. Then slowly, over time, you continue to make it more prominent, speaking about it more, showing it off, and bringing it into the limelight. The benefit of doing it slow and steady is that you’ll get feedback as you. You’ll learn what pain points your customers are facing, you’ll see their reactions to your new form of business, and you can build things sustainably.
Our society loves things quick and easy, but there is something magical about the slow and steady. It’s how things that last are built. My suggestion for any major change in your brand, like a complete change in offerings, or a change in who your audience is, takes at least a year to achieve. That way, you don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. You give your current audience time to adjust to this new way of business and decide if they still connect with your brand.
Let Them Go
In all change, we lose something. A major transition in your business will mean the loss of some customers but that’s okay. It’s one of the reasons you do things slowly. You aren’t looking for a huge audience but the right audience so know that as long as this aligns with your values and where you want to go as a business owner, it’s okay. You’ll also gain new customers too, ones that align with your newfound vision.
Smaller changes in a brand like just adding a new offering, or updating your branding will most likely not steer customers away, it’s the big transition of a complete business overhaul with new pricing, new offerings, and maybe even a completely different business model than before, that shake people up.
Embrace The Change
Change is inevitable. There is a season for creation, stagnation, and eventually, destruction. It’s how all of life works. If you’re feeling a need for a transition in your business it’s most likely because you’ve been stagnant for too long, you need to get back to the creation stage which means destruction must come first. That could be small like destroying your old logo or a product that no longer sells, or something big, like ending this business and starting a whole new one.
There is nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to transitioning. Change is inevitable, nothing lasts forever, and as a creator, (yes, you are one!) creation is in you, eventually, you have to get back to creating again.