The time comes, maybe pretty regularly, when you know you need to make changes in your business, but changes can be intimidating. How do you know if the team will accept the new ideas? How do you know if the clients will like it? How do you know the changes will even work?

Well, the short answer is that you don't know, and that's okay. In fact, it can be to your benefit. Not knowing and choosing to move ahead anyway can actually become a competitive advantage for you if you approach it with strategic intent.

Thinking about changing your business model, the way you manage your processes, or organize your team can be intimidating, sure. But if you wait around, dragging your feet on a decision while researching every option and seeking out multiple instances of proof that something is going to be a sure-fire success, then you’re wasting valuable time.

Because if something is already a sure-fire success, then this idea has long been in place and working well in many businesses and is probably now seen as a standard expectation. By the time you adopt these "new ideas" they will simply be "me too" ideas, which is just keeping you on par with other players in the market and does not showcase you as a leading organization.

Assess your needs and think about the strategy

In order to be different and to stand out in a way that resonates with clients and employees, think strategically about your business model and the challenges you’re facing. What issues do you need to address that will move you forward as an organization and demonstrate your leadership?

  • Is your business model addressing the current needs of your clients or are you using an antiquated approach? Maybe you need to re-set the expectations of what value you can potentially offer your clients and change-up or expand your product/service offerings.
  • Maybe your team is organized in a way that used to be effective, but changes in the organization have made the current structure obsolete, making it time to rethink your value proposition and delivery methods.
  • Perhaps you’re having some employee troubles with engagement, attraction/retention, or general dissatisfaction, and it’s time to consider different employee benefit offerings, better internal communication, or improved performance coaching and/or career development.

How you address the need for changes reflects your leadership

Fearful leaders and organizations lacking confidence will wait until they can find a proven answer. They will search every website, read every book, and ask advice from every person they come in contact with. In the meantime, their businesses sit idly by maintaining status quo.

Strong, confident leaders and organizations with a commitment to always providing the best solutions to their clients and employees will take a different approach. They’ll assess the situation, gather feedback from the critical stakeholders, analyze the pros and cons of possible scenarios, and then make a decision and take action. They will communicate to their team throughout the process so they are aware of what is happening and why. They’ll make sure their team understands well enough to buy into the changes and even help put them in place

It takes courage to try the un-proven ideas. I talk with business leaders every day and get to see the intimidation factor kick in, paralyzing people into holding tight to the “way we’ve always done it” just because they don't want to be the first one out there on that unproven limb.

But I also get to see those who recognize the need for change and embrace it as a whole team with open communication. It’s these companies that are the most successful at managing change because they’re all in it together and know that they’re embarking on a new journey, not for the sake of the journey, but for the future of the business.

Go for it

I'll tell you from first-hand experience, every time my business partner and I have taken a deep breath and said, "Let's just try it," we've never regretted it. Even if it doesn't work in the long run, we build courage knowing we tried it, which then encourages us to go on and try something else. Here are a few things for us that have required a deep breath and a step forward into the unknown:

  • Leaving secure jobs to start a business built on ideas that weren't popular at the time, but people really needed to hear.
  • Rename/rebrand our company after we had an established brand because our business had outgrown our name.
  • Expand our model into new service areas our clients needed and hiring new people to build the new services from scratch.

What’s the risk?

If you choose to wait for ideas to become so rock solid that everyone wants them, you run the risk of being a follower or laggard in the eyes of your employees, clients, and partners. Your opportunities become more and more limited because people start seeing you as irrelevant, and you’ll find yourself working with the people who can’t go work or partner somewhere else. Who wants to be a part of a sinking ship?

Every day is an act of courage for all of us – some big, some small. And even just one small step in the direction of courage seems to add strength to that limb you're walking on. And that, in turn, opens up more and more opportunities to take more small steps of courage.

Take a walk with an un-proven idea and see how it goes. You might just find yourself becoming the competitor who's bringing disruptive ideas into your market, re-setting client expectations, and attracting new, talented people who want to be a part of the excitement you’re generating.

Originally published on Gibson Blog.

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