Monday, August 11, 2008

Change In Which We Can Believe

I passionately *despise* Barack Obama’s grammatically incorrect campaign message—even though my editing stylebooks no longer declare ending a sentence or phrase with a preposition as grammatically incorrect. I can’t help it. It’s how I was taught. I cringe every time I see one of those placards in someone’s window and have to correct it—out loud—every time.

The fact that we so often read, hear and use sentences that end in prepositions has made the practice acceptable. It is no longer incorrect. Our definition of intelligent grammar has changed.

And if there’s anything we can believe in, it’s change. (Cringe.)

Change is inevitable. Seasons change. Economic circumstances change. Consumer demands change. There is no such thing as static. Everything changes.

As a small business owner, how you handle change is a critical factor in your success or failure.

Proactively planning for change can open up new opportunities and lead your business into new directions. Embracing change as it comes can position your business for successful growth.

Allowing for change by being reasonably flexible, responding to external forces or events and keeping an eye out for ways to modify your business can prevent you from being left behind. When you are open to change, your business can stay current, fresh and continue deliver what customers want.

But in the day-to-day aspects of managing a small business, change can be an annoying time-suck.

Every year software programs require upgrades—many of which upset your delicately balanced electronic equilibrium. Why doesn’t the latest version of Ad-Aware work like the last one did? Now that I have the latest, fastest high-speed wireless Internet connection, my fax won’t answer calls. And let’s not even get started about upgrades to Windows operating systems and the problems those cause. Suffice to say I know a great many people who solved their Windows Vista troubles with a new Mac.

You can spend months researching, negotiating and securing terms for vendor accounts only to have your star performers suddenly discontinue your best-selling product line. Or change their names. And so you have to begin again to research replacements, negotiate new terms and update your materials with the new information.

Suppliers raise their prices. Dependable employees leave. Office Depot discontinues the specialty paper you use for your in-store promotions.

Yes, everything changes.

Dealing with those regular (sometimes it feels like daily) changes is part of a small business owner’s life. After more than a year of being self-employed, I have finally learned to build into my schedule some flex-time each week so I have room for those inevitable annoyances. Expect the unexpected, as the saying goes.

What techniques or tips do you have for dealing with change? Share with us your strategies for coping with change.

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