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Mike Doman
Technology Journalist

Mike Doman is a technology, lifestyle, industrial and education writer

Mike Doman
Technology Journalist

Mike Doman is a technology, lifestyle, industrial and education writer

They say change is as good as a holiday. For small businesses, it’s better than that – change shows you things, evolves thinking and can bring your business into the future.

Author, salesman and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar offered up two distinctly opposite but impactful interpretations of “fear”. Both are synonymous with change. He said that to fear was to ‘Forget Everything And Run’, but also to ‘Face Everything And Rise’.

Bravery in leaders can be an undervalued trait, synonymous with risk more than reward. Yet to deliver innovation – a word thrown around more liberally than perhaps it should – business owners need to be brave. They need to take calculated, and sometimes unmeasured, leaps into the unknown.

The Japanese term “Kaizen” refers to “change for the better”. It aims to eliminate waste though change, and has been implemented in businesses across the globe.

In order to walk a new path – and explore new ways of doing things – businesses should make small changes all the time, and big changes once in a while, but do it strategically.

Woman standing at the bottom of steps

Make small changes all the time

While punishing schedules, a need to deliver and a fear of things ‘not working out’ can be deterrents, doing a part of your routine like you’re doing it for the first time can illuminate new ways of thinking that aren’t explored because things “have always been done this way”.

Challenging the norm is at the heart of innovation. Processes, products, people – they don’t get better without being challenged and Kaizen aims to be that challenge. Evolution occurs from tiny changes over many years, and the process for a business isn’t any different.

Innovation doesn’t need to be a big idea. Ben Waber, author of People Analytics: How Social Sensing Technology Will Transform Business and What It Tells Us about the Future of Work stated in the FT Press  that small changes can have drastic impacts, often making more difference than big innovations done sporadically.

Make big changes once in a while

While years of experience is what delivers a small business owner to a position of leadership, sometimes forgetting everything that’s been learnt – including bad behaviours and false hypotheses – isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Putting pressure on processes and systems through drastic change – altering your brand identity, creating a new product or division, taking any substantial risk – shows you things you wouldn’t generally predict. Exposing customers to the change can explore potential messaging options, get you thinking about new markets and shows them that you’re willing to expose yourself – that you’re a brave business.

The pressure applied through drastic change shows cracks, reveals where streamlining can occur, and shows your business’ ability to be reactive and agile.

Drastic change, when controlled and implemented with purpose, is far from risky – it exposes where risks are. By understanding how your teams react in controlled circumstances, you’ll be better placed to react when uncontrolled change occurs.

Change leads to understanding

In the end, modelling and predictions will only take you so far. Small changes are integral to business evolution, while big changes put pressure on your business, revealing how you’d cope with uncontrolled change.

You didn’t become successful by not questioning the status quo. Now you’re at the top of your business, that trait shouldn’t change.

Violet Roumeliotis, 2017 Telstra Business Woman of the Year.
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