Let's get one things super clear...It's okay to change things in your business.
It's easy to get caught up in the idea that once we make a decision about something with have to stick with it forever. While it's great to actually stick with something for a while to give it time to work, that doesn't mean you have to keep it the same until you shut down your business.
The other thing that typically gets in our minds as we navigate change is what others will think or say. The truth is that people are going to have their thoughts about what you're doing but you're the one that lives with your decisions so you have to do what's best for you and your business.
The only constant in life is change and that's especially true for accidental entrepreneurship. If we don't adapt to our customers, our business will go under and so we have to navigate change with confidence. I'll share my stories of changes over 6 years in business as well as tips for how you can navigate change too.
**This was also a podcast episode (episode #197. Use the player below if you'd prefer to listen to this message.
Things Change In Our Journey of Entrepreneurship
There isn't a successful entrepreneur I know or have learned about that hasn't experienced lots of change in their business. From the person who started as a fashion blogger to then opened up a boutique to the VC funded business who focused on working with pharmacies who shifted to work with individual clinics.
This is a mark of a successful entrepreneur because they followed the breadcrumbs that their customers were leaving them. If you are 100% resistant to changes, you'll likely go out of business. But for people who like structure and stability, this can be difficult.
2017 - marketing consultant who worked with corporations; focused on retainer and project-based revenue
2018 - marketing strategies who started to work with yoga teachers; started group and one-on-one coaching
2019 - marketing coach who worked exclusively with yoga teachers; started a podcast and an online membership
2020 & 2021 - marketing coach for yoga teachers; focused 100% on the online membership and saw growth
2022 - marketing coach for yoga teachers but started to notice changes in students and what I wanted to focus on; started writing a book
2023 - business coach for accidental entrepreneurs; published my book, changed the name of the podcast and closed the online membership to focus on coaching
In both 2018/2019 and 2022/2023 I navigated extreme change in my business and it was difficult both times. However, both times had some commonalities:
The internal nudge - I knew there was something changing. It wasn't fleeting, it stuck around for months.
I had lots of feelings - I was scared, confused, excited, unsure, ready, worried about what others would think.
Others noticed - my close biz besties and coaches mentioned the change/shift. Conversations happened so that I could put words to my feelings.
It was a transition - I made slow, deliberate changes that helped me and my clients/students. Nothing was done without intention and time.
When it was time, it was time - there were moments when it was clear that it was time and the decision was made and communicated with clarity. I moved forward with confidence.
"Overall, change is inevitable in your business but it doesn't have to happen overnight, although it can when that feels right." - Amanda McKinney
Why We Resist Change As Humans (& Entrepreneurs)
It's important for me to acknowledge that I don't love change. Being the super-structured person I am, this isn't a surprise but entrepreneurship has really helped me in this department of my life because change is inevitable.
"The only constant in life is change and this is especially true for accidental entrepreneurs". - Amanda McKinney
For me it's helpful to understand (1) that I'm not alone in this resistance and (2) the science behind what's happening.
The reasons that we often resist change are:
Fear of the unknown
Fear of failure
Fear of losing control
Fear of change itself
Past experiences, beliefs and cultural norms
And in the case of accidental entrepreneurship, the fear of what others may say or think is most likely the highest probable cause. This is especially the case when we have clients who will be impacted by the change that's made.
"Once we see or think of the faces of those who the change will impact, things get tough but you still have to follow what's best for you and the business overall." - Amanda McKinney
People will always have an opinion and they have the right to but their opinion doesn't have to shape your decisions. You're the one that has to live with your decisions in your business day in and day out. Remember that no one else knows the ins and outs of the backend details so they can't make the decisions for you.
So if you find yourself hesitating to make a change in your business because of the fear of what others will think, please make sure to remind yourself of the fact that you intentionally chose entrepreneurship so you could control your work and most likely your schedule. The only way you'll be able to successfully accomplish this is if you make decisions that feel right to you and adjust to the market needs.
As humans, we like to stay in our comfort zone but as an entrepreneur, you know that likely the only way to grow your business is by expanding outside your comfort zone. This is where the fear kicks in and leads to not taking action.
When we are resisting change this could show up as:
hesitation in moving forward and taking action
defensive words or thoughts about the possible change
skeptical of the change that's taking place or will take place
While most of the time we think of this as change that happens to us (ex: detours on our drive), as entrepreneurs we are in control of many things in our business so we are often making the change happen.
We can use this to our advantage because one thing that typically trips us up as humans is when a change is thrown at us quickly and we didn't have time to prepare or communicate about the change.
As entrepreneurs we are reacting to our customers and the market but we can navigate it with more preparation.
"Resisting change could show up for you as procrastinating, making excuses, and anxiety with taking action." - Amanda McKinney
An article in Psychology Today shares a lot about the body and brain and how it impacts how we react to changes in our environment.
"Inertia - a tendency to do nothing or remain unchanged. Homeostasis - helps our bodies maintain a normal body temperature, metabolism, weight and other functions necessary for our survival." - Psychology Today Article
Overall, our body was created to resist change so everything it's built for is actually working against us. But they also go on to say that it's possible to make lasting change but it takes more conscious effort.
Tips For Navigating Change In Business As An Entrepreneur
In addition to navigating many changes in my business, including 2 major shifts in what I offer and who I work with in my business, I've also coached many other accidental entrepreneurs through this process. While every situation is different, there are some common tips that help most people.
Notice Before Acting - if you notice a change in your customer's behavior (purchasing, consuming, etc.) note that change and track it over the period of 3 to 6 months. Data is your friend because it will help you make data-driven decisions with confidence.
Talk It Out - as you're tracking changes, don't do this alone. Talk to a biz bestie, a partner, a coach, a mastermind group. Find people who will ask questions to help you dig deeper before making any changes. Also, talk to your customers to gain insight, this is a great time for customer conversations and surveys.
Move Forward With Intention & Confidence - once you know it's time to make the change, go forward with clarity, intention and confidence in your decision. You may have to change again down the road but take this step with intention.
"A client of mine once said to me 'Amanda, if you tell us this is where we're going with confidence, we will follow you but if you're hesitant, we will be too.' and this is something I remind myself of often. Go forward with confidence." - Amanda McKinney
However, in order to have the confidence, know what you need. For me this is data so before making any changes in my business I look at data points and if I don't have them, I research them.
In addition to my personal suggestions, I found a great blog post from Calm that listed 9 ways to navigate change. As an app that focuses on meditation and mindfulness, I appreciate these tips very much.
Resist resisting - open up to the opportunity of growth
Validate your feelings - it's okay to be unease about change
Manage your expectations - don't try and move too quickly, take your time
Flex your equanimity muscle - this is the minds ability to be okay with whatever is happening, good, bad or ugly. Pause when the feelings arise and remind yourself that you'll be okay.
Lean into routine - focus on the things you can keep the same and it will help you feel safe
Reflect on your resilience - remember times when you've been out of your comfort zone before and how you navigated it
Prioritize self care - seek support of others if you need it
Savor the good - enjoy the things that bring you joy, your senses can help with this
Express yourself - share with a trusted friend or therapist
Take Away Message / Action
Recognize that change is inevitable in your business. You've been a customer of a business that changed so you've seen it in action many times but you simply weren't behind the curtain. In this situation you're behind the curtain and see the unbelievable mess that happens back there.
Remind yourself that you're not alone in this and that every successful business has to navigate change or else the business dies. You've done it before and will do it again but it will likely take time and feel uncomfortable along the way.
If you're navigating change now and feeling lots of feelings about it that aren't pleasant, I recommend:
Collecting data and noticing what's changing.
Talking it out with biz besties and ask them to probe for more questions and answers.
Give yourself time to learn and decide how to move forward with confidence.
If you're not navigating change right now, I recommend reflecting on what you will need the next time this comes up for you. Have a plan in place for people you will reach out to when you need to figure out what to do next.
Regardless of what you're navigating now, know that you've got this. You've done hard things before and will do them again. Collect the data, talk it out, and move forward with confidence.
Until next time give yourself permission to embrace change and grace along the way. I'll talk to you soon.
Psychology Today Article: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-truisms-wellness/201701/why-we-resist-change
Calm Blog Post: https://blog.calm.com/blog/navigating-change
Define Success Free Resource: https://www.amandamckinney.com/success
All podcast episodes: https://pod.link/1473751874
Amanda's Coaching Options: https://www.amandamckinney.com/coaching
Amanda's Book: https://www.amandamckinney.com/book
"A client of mine once said to me 'Amanda, if you tell us this is where we're going with confidence, we will follow you but if you're hesitant, we will be too.' and this is something I remind myself of often. Go forward with confidence."
- Amanda McKinney
Unapologetically Chase Your Definition Of Success
No matter how many ideas you have, it's important to have one thing truly defined and that's your definition of success.
If you'd like to explore this concept even more, my book Why Not You? An Accidental Entrepreneur's Guide To Success is waiting for you.
Defining success is just one chapter but in the book we will explore many other things that help you create your Y.O.U. Promise that becomes your guide to unapologetically chasing success for you.