How often have you heard the words, “we are living in unprecedented times” in the last 3 months? My guess is … A LOT! And these unprecedented times means that we must pivot and change our business if we are to survive AND thrive during this crisis. So how then, can we pivot and change? What do we need to know? HOW do we “pivot and change our business”? It’s easier said than done. Where do we even start?
For a start, we need to mentally prepare ourselves to take on the challenge and inculcate some habits which can help us survive Covid-19. These are unprecedented times indeed. And unless you were old enough to experience the Spanish Flu, you would be sailing in uncharted waters.
Captain Kirk of the Starship Enterprise said that their mission is “To boldly go where no man has gone before”. That takes courage. In business, courage shows up differently than in Star Trek.
Courage is …
- Being courageous enough to give our staff unlimited leave -I mean paid unlimited leave, not unpaid leave! Dr Amantha Imber, the founder of Inventium, implemented this in her business with amazing results.
- Being courageous enough to let our staff set their own salaries – And I mean that – they get to decide how much we should pay them to turn up to work for us! I implemented this in my accounting practice in 1990 after read Ricardo Semlar’s book Maverick (with a right of veto since I wasn’t THAT courageous). The outcome surpassed my expectations. Everybody acted responsibly and there were no outrageous claims except from one person who resigned when I would not agree to the salary she wanted.
- Being courageous enough to lock your office and refuse to accept a new client (irrespective of how much that client is worth) unless they have been referred to you by an existing client – Paddi Lund, a dentist also GUARANTEED that his patients would not feel any pain during his treatments! Now, THAT is a courageous act from a dentist! He wrote a book called Building the Happiness Centred Business where he outlined how he pivoted his business from being a boring dentist to operating a “dental patisserie”. This was another success story.
There are many more examples of courage that challenged the status quo. These are the companies that make the headlines – Google, Virgin America, Facebook and IDEO just to name a few.
What do all the above examples have in common?
I believe the commonality is the belief there had to be a better way to do business. Covid-19 is forcing all business to put on their thinking cap and figure out HOW to pivot and change our businesses. We no longer have a choice. We HAVE to challenge the norms of business practices.
Will we get it wrong sometimes? Yes. of course. Will we get it right too? Yes, we will. What is the cost to our business when we accept the norm simply because we are fearful of what the change might bring? What opportunities await us if we dare to challenge the status quo? Instead of saying that it can’t be done, we must ask, “HOW can we pivot and change our business”.
One of the biggest things that will help us pivot and change our business in challenging times is if we know WHY we do what we do. That clarity becomes an important driver for us to become extraordinary. It’s that clarity that will push us to reach our goals and help us to overcome all the challenges that business and life throws at us. It is that clarity that helps to form our vision and mission in business and in life.
In his latest book, High Performance Habits – How Extraordinary People Become That Way, Brendon Burchard found, from his study of over two million people, that there were just six habits that give you the edge – Seek clarity and demonstrate courage were two of them. The other 4 were generate energy, raise necessity, increase productivity and develop influence.
Remember that not everything we achieve is important. What’s important is for us to make sure that whatever we do, it aligns with our values, our vision and our mission. That is the only way we can know HOW to pivot and change our business to take into account the changing landscape brought on by Covid-19.
3. ENTREPRENEURIAL MINDSET
An entrepreneurial mindset a way of thinking that enables you to overcome challenges, be decisive, and accept responsibility for your outcomes. It is a constant need to improve our skills, learn from our mistakes, and take continuous action on our ideas – All that can be learnt.
Can anyone learn how to develop an entrepreneurial mindset? That is a definitive YES. I’ve always worked with the following guidelines:
- Never assume I know it all – I try to remain curious and keep looking to improve. My motto in all this is “I don’t know what I don’t know”. Therefore, I’m always searching for questions I should be asking at every opportunity. I believe it’s called a discovery mindset.
- Don’t major on the minor – I try to choose my battles. I’m more interested in winning the war. Some things are just not worth worrying about. So, it’s good to avoid stressing about things I know I can’t change.
- Have a positive attitude and focus on the things that can be controlled – Henry Ford said, “when everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.”
- Begin with the end in mind – I know what I want. I avoid saying it can’t be done, and focus on asking HOW can it be done. Our brain is the greatest computer we have at our disposal. Unfortunately, most of us do not use it enough.
- Learn to be a disruptor, not disruptive – Ask questions. Challenge the norm. After all, the “norm” is simply what someone once decided to do, and another followed. Then another and another followed. And before you know it, it became “the norm”.
- Learn to love reading – I don’t mean novels. Read personal development books that will help your growth. I wrote about this in my last blog on How to Grow Your Business so I won’t repeat myself.
If I had to sum it up in one word, it would be “change”. An entrepreneur is one who is not afraid of change and who will learn from the change, and very quickly pivot and change his business to adapt to the new circumstances.
4. FACE OUR FEARS
Mark Twain said, “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.” Therefore, for anyone to demonstrate courage, we must accept that there is a risk, overcome our fears and act in spite of our fears. The issue is really a mind issue. You see, no one can stop you from doing something you want to do …EXCEPT YOURSELF. And no one can release your full potential … EXCEPT YOURSELF. Are we going to be courageous enough to take ourselves to the edge and find out? Will we pivot and change our business and take it on a new path to overcome the new challenges from Covid-19?
Challenging the norm can be scary – we could fail! It hits on two of the six Ghosts of Fear that rules our lives that Napoleon Hill talks of in his book Think and Grow Rich – fear of poverty if we lose your business or our job for fear that what we want to do might not work and fear of criticism from friends and colleagues for believing there has to be a better way.
None of us have the exclusive on bright ideas. That’s why I found Mastermind groups to be really helpful whenever I need to pivot and change my business. I totally agree with John Maxwell when he said that some of his best ideas came from other people. In the Law of Success by Napoleon Hill, he addressed the necessity of being part of a Mastermind if you are to be successful.
In reality, the hardest part is to get a good Mastermind group together. In 2013, there was an article in Forbes that gave 7 Reasons why you should join a Mastermind Group. It’s an old article, but the reasons are all still perfectly valid.
There is an old African proverb that says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” I have personally found that to be true. I’ve operated several businesses in my lifetime. Although having business partners do have its challenges (people CAN be challenging!), I found that in general, the businesses performed much better when I had business partners or was in a mastermind group than the ones I owned and operated all by myself.
I resisted having a mentor and coach and even joining a Mastermind group for a long time. When I finally bit the bullet and did it, I realised I should have done it a lot earlier. I have not looked back ever since. If you don’t know of a free Mastermind group that will accept you as a member, then get a mentor or coach or join a paid Mastermind Group. One of us is never as good as all of us together.
6. ACCEPT IT HAS TO CHANGE AND WORK WITH IT
Don’t resist the change that’s coming. Don’t waste time wishing for “the good old days”. Accept that if our passion and vision for our business is going to survive and thrive, then we must pivot and change our business model. We must never ever get attached to our business model. Just remember that the business model was based on the circumstances operating at the time. Environments change and so must we.
Covid-19 is shaping up to be a pandemic that will change the way we do business forever. I covered this extensively in one of my earlier blogs Doing Business After Covid-19 and I won’t repeat myself. We might as well accept that and work with it. Whether we like it or not, we must pivot and change our business if we are to survive this.
Implementing change, any change at all, will not come easily to any organisations or to any individual for that matter. Generally, people will only change when it becomes too unbearable for them not to change. I’m no different to anyone else. I can see that I must change my health and fitness habits if I am to achieve peak performance. And like many, I lack the discipline to do that which I know I must do. So yes, I’m still working on it!
Why is that? You would have thought that once the reasons for the change have been explained to all and everyone can see the obvious benefits, it would be a breeze. Yet it isn’t.
Implementing change becomes a process that has to be managed. Change management is a continuous process that comes with a range of responses and reactions from the individuals who perceive change to be either a positive move or a negative force on how they will individually be impacted. The WIIFM (What’s in it for me) radio station is alive and kicking. Initially, there will be denial and resistance. This is often driven by a fear of loss of power and control over their routine and habits. This initial fear is the foundation that creates mistrust, misunderstanding and leads to misinformation.
People fear that which they do not understand. Therefore, for any change to be successfully implemented, it must be properly managed. If we are to pivot and change our business, we must learn how to manage the people side of change. The new tools we want to introduce are not the problem. It’s the people. That is why understanding human behaviour is key to managing any change in an organisation.
There are four stages that people commonly move through when facing change:
Each stage must be handled differently. What works in Stage 1 will not work in Stage 2. Cultural change must be achieved through an evolutionary process incorporating ongoing, aligned communication, skill development and leadership training that is congruent with the organisation and the change message the leadership team wish to implement.
Most organisations will implement change from the top down. The reasoning for this is sound. You want to make sure that your leaders are well-prepared and trained to support their respective team members in implementing change. However, this will not necessarily produce the best result. This top-down approach can breed mistrust. Without trust, change becomes almost impossible.
Transformational roundtables, the same process used by John Maxwell to transform the nation of Paraguay, overcomes this. It is a powerful method where we begin by equipping individuals in a structured process. That training is then radiated from individual to individual for a massive, intentional, viral leadership development effect. The process is rolled out, not from top down, but concurrently across all levels. As a member of the team that went into Paraguay with John Maxwell, I got to witness the transformation happening in front of my own eyes.
Implementing change need not be feared. With the right preparation, each stage can be properly addressed to minimise disruption to the organisation while improving productivity and effectiveness. Post Covid-19, we no longer have a choice about this. We have to pivot and change our business.
This is where we over analyse a situation to the extent that we become paralysed and cannot take any action. Over-thinking a problem is not necessarily a good idea – especially in business! We toss all the pros and cons over and over and over in our head and our fear of making the wrong decision stops us dead in our track. The end result is that we end up doing nothing. And that is the worst possible thing we can do.
Why does analysis paralysis happen? Believe it or not, it happens to all of us at one time or another, although some are more prone to do that than others. For instance, if you have a “C” DISC personality profile, you tend to be very analytical. You approach everything in an incremental and measured way and you like to take your time before you make a decision … after the most careful considerations of all your options and the implications of each. On the other hand, if you have a high “D” DISC personality profile, you can be just rash and make your decisions quickly, sometimes without properly analysing the problem. Neither is good for business.
Napoleon Hill analysed several hundred people who had accumulated fortunes well beyond the million dollar mark. He found that every one of them had the habit of reaching decisions promptly. In addition to making decisions quickly and confidently, they also change decisions, if and when needed to, slowly. Interestingly, Napoleon Hill also found that people who fail to accumulate money, without exception, have the habit of reaching decisions, if at all, very slowly, and of changing these decisions quickly and often. His findings were reported in his 1937 book Think & Grow Rich and remains true to this day.
How can we avoid this condition? How can we make sure that we do not stop our business success because of analysis paralysis? First, we need to understand WHY we have a need to analyse everything to the Nth degree before we make a decision. Are we really searching for the facts and the truth or is there really another reason for our obsession to get it right? When you peel it all back, analysis paralysis happens because of the fear of failure. We are afraid that the decision we make will be wrong or it won’t be the “perfect” decision.
I mentor some business owners who are predisposed to analysis paralysis. My advice to them were to remember that:
1. Failure is not always bad
The unofficial motto in Silicon Valley is “Fail fast, fail forward”. The fact is that if you have never failed, then you have never tried. None of us have a perfect record. We will never be able to go through life without any failures at all. It took Edison 10,000 attempts before he got it right with the electric bulb. Not too many people would have survived that many failures and still have the persistence to keep going. Aren’t we glad that he did? Failure in itself, is not a bad thing as long as we learn from our failures. Just remember, the sun will still rise and the sun will still set. It’s not life threatening for us to fail. It is only our ego that takes a hit. And that is sometimes a good thing!
2. Playing the tape forward will give clarity
Consider whether the decision required is going to be a BIG thing. If you did make a bad decision, what is the worst that can happen? How will that impact your business? How important is it to you and your business? You will find that few decisions are as important as you think they are. Most decisions will, in fact, have very little impact on our lives and our business. Only a small handful of decisions are going to be “life changing” and have the ability to affect our lives in the long run.
3. It’s never going to be perfect
You must acknowledge that it’s never EVER going to be perfect. Unless you are dealing with a life or death matter, perfection is rarely the answer. The 80/20 Pareto Rule applies. 20% of the effort will give you 80% of the result you want. If you want to nail that last 20%, you will have to put in a humongous effort – that effort may be better placed doing something else that can produce greater benefits. In business, you will have to justify the time investment needed to nail that last 20%. Take bookkeeping as an example. Would you want your accountant to charge you $500 of his time to find the $5 missing from your petty cash tin? I would suggest you would baulk at the idea of wasting that kind of money.
4. Getting a second opinion is a good thing to do
If after weighing up all the pros and cons, you STILL struggle to come to a decision, do go and get a second opinion. The key here is to get the second opinion – not the third, and fourth and fifth opinion until you find one who agrees with you. As long as you have sought the opinion of a trusted adviser, you should then just make that decision. Stop procrastinating. Let’s face it – even if your choice turns out to be not-so-good, just the act of making that decision and doing something about it will help you achieve 10 times more than being stuck in analysis paralysis doing nothing.
5. Setting a time limit is a must
If you know that you are prone to analysis paralysis, then set yourself a deadline by which you MUST reach a decision. If it’s an important matter, you may want to allow a longer period for you to consider your options. On deadline date, you MUST then make a decision even if you feel that you do not have the full facts. Just make your decision based on what you already know and run with it. Taking action, even if it turns out to be wrong, is better than taking no action at all. Without a deadline, you will likely just drift into what I call the “I’m a gonna land.” I know many people like that – they’re gonna do a lot of things … one day … when the sky falls down, when the conditions are perfect and the stars align. That is the surest way to guarantee that we will do nothing to pivot and change our business.
In summary, start thinking about how you can pivot and change your business NOW. It’s never a good idea to practice the procrastinator’s motto “Never do today what you can do tomorrow”. Because tomorrow never comes. The way we do business after Covid-19 will change. The question is – Will you embrace the change that’s coming? Or are you just waiting for things to go back to “normal”?
The future is now. The new normal is here. It’s time to pivot and change our business! We must not try to do this alone or we’ll get depressed and go crazy trying to figure it out all by ourselves. I’m not going to wait to be pushed – or it could be too late!
About the Author:
Patsy Lim’s business and financial background (having qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1980), together with her entrepreneurial spirit enables her to apply a potent blend of strong financial and accounting expertise, deep practical business experience, and entrepreneurial flair and creativity to complex business problems. As an entrepreneur, she understands the issues that an entrepreneur faces. So, unlike some accountants who only know the theory of business, Patsy has had hands-on experience of what it means to be IN business, to start a business, to grow a business, and most of all, to manage a business when times inevitably get tough!