The automotive industry and business in general today is changing faster than at any time in recent memory. Failure to understand and react to industry changes may cause a business to fail, or at minimum, no longer allow them to effectively compete in their market area.
Successful owners are all about change and they initiate adjustments to their company regularly. They understand that non-change may develop into a false comfort level and a false feeling of security. The successful business owner understands the problems presented by poor outcomes and can make allowances for them. He or she understands that outcomes must be changed and adjusted on a constant basis and knows when it is time to let go of the past and look forward to the future.
Many people say that a business that refuses to change is a company that is simply set in its ways. What it really means is that owners have lost their feeling of future potential and have found security in hanging onto what is comfortable. The problem is compounded when owners become so set in their ways that they have eliminated any change as an option.
While many owners do not see when change is necessary they will resist change even when they know that change is needed. Some owners will hire advisors only to find that they point out the obvious and show how a change should be implemented. After a routine consultation is received, most owners realize they have noted the same issues in the past but have not reacted to them.
Why is this? What causes a business to fight change? More than likely, the problem started back when the owner tried to enact some type of change that failed to produce the desired results. Because of this and other past failures, he now has given up on any attempt to change and grow. He has built a “fear of failure”into his mind and now has lost his vision of his company’s potential.
More commonly, owners may recognize the potential but have become fearful of the outcome. For many owners this is not the mindset they began with when they opened their business. If they had been fearful of change they never would have started their own company to begin with.
As one entrepreneur was quoted as saying, “I’ve crashed, burned and rose from the ashes so many times I call myself a Phoenix.” The difference in this case is he never gave up, he always saw his potential as high. As time went on, he learned in advance what may cause him to fail and readied himself for those stumbling blocks.
This successful entrepreneur’s thought process can actually be put into a formula that consists of four areas each linked to the next and forming a never-ending loop:
Potential: Foreseen opportunities that ideas are based on.
Action: Changes brought about by initiating ideas.
Outcome: Positive result of action.
Belief: Driven by positive outcomes to initiate more change.
Most ideas usually begin with a potential for success. It is this potential or opportunity that owners use to develop the ideas and expectations of what is desired. They continually develop ideas until it is time put them into action. The success of this action is the desired outcome. Simply put, the action determines the outcome.
Remember that the most important question is “Are you ready to change?” If you are ready, then learning to take control of your company has just begun. In many cases the most difficult thing one must do is accept the fact that change is necessary.
The exciting part of change is once the decision is made to start changing, you will never stop changing. In fact, many companies have learned to anticipate change and roll with it. Changing is action and how we approach change will affect our outcome and thus set our belief. Being ready to change starts right up front with asking yourself why you are in business and then learning and understanding how your business really works. You need to understand what your potential is and how best to use changes to facilitate long-term growth and profitability!
The process of change can begin with predetermining desired results or outcome. Without realizing it, we all set an outcome daily! Here’s an example of that: In the morning we drive the same route that we know will get us to work at the right time. But what happens if we run into construction or the road is closed while on our way? Do we abandon our outcome of getting to work on time and turn around? Of course not, we still need to get to work so we readjust our route. The simple reality is that if we didn’t care about getting to work on time (or at all for that matter) we would simply sit and wait for the construction to be done.
Deciding an outcome will be very difficult if you have little belief in yourself and your company from the start. All too often owners will focus on putting out fires instead of figuring out what caused the fire to begin with. Many business owners are just happy to get through another day without the business falling apart around them. In these cases almost every day ends with a successful outcome. The problem with these types of outcomes is that they only achieve a marginal amount of success and very rarely leads to the continued success of a company.
Setting outcomes is extremely important so you can formulate solid business plans. Working from the “seat of your pants” without a plan will leave you unprepared for obstacles that will certainly pop up.
Building a solid business plan must include input from the people in the “trenches:” your employees. Understanding that employees need to be ready to accept change and help implement new plans is critical through the planning stages.
Teamwork is a must or you will end up with one or more employees who will resist change and who can cause failure in action. They will have no faith in your plan, their potential will be lowered and they will not have any stake in the outcome. By including employees in your vision, you create allies in creating positive change, not enemies who will sabotage your plan.
Building leadership and trust in your staff will certainly make a big difference in how your plans are executed. However, it is key to consider “balance” for your company through the planning stages too. To consider only employees while setting outcome and taking action will cause the rest of your company to become unbalanced.
There are seven key segments that make up a successful company and daily attention to all areas of your company will maintain balanced growth and overall positive results. I’ll be discussing them in future columns in Engine Builder. In the interim, continued focus on implementing positive changes in your company will ensure continued success in the ever-changing marketplace.
Kenny Nau is Director of Sales at PLUSS Corporation, Columbia Falls, MT. PLUSS offers Business Management Software and consulting services for the automotive and heavy duty industries. [email protected]