3 Critical Lessons For Enacting Change in Your Business and Entrepreneur Journey Entrepreneurship is challenging during every step of the journey. Here's some advice that will take the stress off of some decision-making.
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Leadership isn't easy, nor is entrepreneurship. Bringing a new idea or concept to market is a dream for many, but it can often feel daunting. When reflecting on my journey to CEO, I recently asked myself, what are the three important lessons I would tell my younger self?
I came up with the following: Always listen to your customers, choose progress over perfection and get your employees involved. Keeping these lessons in mind will help your quest for entrepreneurial excellence and change in your business. Here's why I think so.
1. Listen to your customers
When changing your business or product, customers will usually react in one of two ways. On the one hand, they may be receptive and open to change. Often, this occurs when the change doesn't require a significant shift in customer behavior. Customers don't want to be pushed too far outside their comfort zone (or their existing process), so if the change requires a substantial shift in attitude or perhaps a change in how they interact with your business, they might be more resistant.
Knowing this, it is essential to listen to — and acknowledge — their concerns. As a leader, you probably won't be able to solve all their problems, but by listening and acknowledging, you can move people down the path toward accepting changes. In addition, you're supporting the notion that they are on the same team as you, which helps bolster change.
Another effective way to reinforce a new belief is to focus on "peak moments" — i.e., specific parts of the consumer decision journey that have a disproportionate impact and that consumers tend to remember most.
Peak moments often include first-time experiences with a product or service, touchpoints at critical milestones in the customer journey (such as the first renewal cycle), and other moments of intense consumer interaction (and reaction).
2. Progress over perfection
In today's competitive start-up landscape, it is tempting to strive for perfection when launching a new product, idea or solution — especially those of us with an engineering bent. No one wants to go to market with something that feels "less than." However, grasping for the goal of perfection can be a barrier to real growth. Like the well-worn aphorism says, "don't let perfect be the enemy of good."
Without making mistakes and allowing the chance to improve, we'd never know what success looks like — that's the danger of letting perfection be the enemy of good. And honestly, it's those ups and downs that make entrepreneurship life interesting.
During my career, I have witnessed the transition in both thinking and execution from so-called waterfall to agile — essentially moving from sequential to iterative. It is a huge difference maker in quickly demonstrating (or not) progress. While it might sound scary to release something small and seemingly incomplete, realize that as consumers, we have grown accustomed to that approach of consuming new products and processes — think about the last mobile app you downloaded.
Don't be afraid to challenge yourself and your teams to take high-risk and high-reward opportunities. Taking the time to experiment, learn from problems and discover new solutions is all part of the process. It not only allows you and your business to grow but encourages your team's development as well.
3. Get employees involved
While the C-suite garners a lot of attention and credit when a company performs well, each employee is part of the beating heart of the organization and plays a vital role in enacting change. So, think holistically about change from the bottom to the top.
To make this happen, as a leader, you should strive to cultivate an environment of trust, curiosity and learning. Leaders must build trust rather than undermine it to spark a sense of commitment and create a culture of motivation and professional development in their business. This helps encourage more discussions and synthesis about what is and isn't working.
Also, companies that make innovation, transparency and trust a core value of their culture often attract similar qualities in the employees they hire. There is no doubt that the next generation of talent is making waves in the workforce landscape. From the pandemic to the Great Resignation and Quiet Quitting, there's a shift in what employees look for in their employers.
The needs of each employee and organization differ, but generally speaking, it's not surprising that employees want to be valued and take responsibility for high-value initiatives. To be clear, success here starts with attracting talent that embodies your company's values.
All in all, change in your business, your products and the market can and should take time. Accomplishment doesn't happen overnight. Be open and wise to this. Also, be prepared to learn as you go. There is a difference between reading about and experiencing these lessons firsthand.
And perhaps most importantly, don't underestimate what your team can accomplish when given a clear vision and the resources to execute — empowerment is the secret sauce of top-performing organizations.