Small Business growth: Transformation is required
Growth is the lifeblood of entrepreneurship and business success. It is also the lifeblood of our economy. But growth requires work, change and transformation. Perhaps most importantly, growth requires personal transformation in the leadership of the organization.
Most small business owners have enough knowledge, experience and resources to get themselves into business. However, few have the depth and breadth of knowledge, experience and skills to remain capable as a leader as the business grows, unless they grow too. Growth brings increasing demands of; complexity, management, human systems, financial management, competitive response, planning, training, development, technology and information management and leadership itself.
Hence, the leader must transform to adapt to all of these changes. The leadership skills, experience and methods that were appropriate for a 3 person startup company operating out of a garage will not serve a 100 person firm or a multicultural international enterprise. Business growth constantly puts a leader in new positions that require learning, new perspectives, new skills and new stamina. If the leader relies upon what has served in the past, it may not serve in the future. Unfortunately this realization may come too late, unless the leader is ready and prepared for change, expecting, waiting and preparing for it rather than being forced into it or surprised by it.
Some leaders embrace change, while others fear it. Some get easily “stuck” in old patterns, beliefs and limiting cultures, while others embrace new knowledge, new ways of thinking and new communities. I advise all my clients that mastering transformation is a required attribute of successful leaders and an essential resource for sustaining business growth.
Mastering transformation, the ability to change with the changes in one’s organization, can be both “taught” and “caught”. It can be learned, practiced and mastered, much like a martial art. The key to success in this is becoming a good student, becoming dedicated to the process and learning to enjoy the process as part of personal and professional life. Here are some useful steps to mastering transformation:
- Find a mentor or group of mentors. Every martial artist has a sensei, a master who has done it before and can teach the steps, the methods and help show the way and guide the practice.
- Find transformation “buddies”: Find peers who are growing companies who you can share your experiences and issues with. Transformation has consequences, including fear, uncertainty, questions, and
- Educate yourself. New knowledge is transformation in itself
- Practice: No great martial artist became a black belt without lots of practice. And they did not practice alone. Transformation is like your body, it needs practice to learn, build stamina, to build repetitive reinforcement and to “spar” and learn from transformation in the real arena of your business. Drive to work on a different route, listen to different music, dress differently. Practice change, every day. Become accustomed to it.
- Get feedback: Trying to be a self-evaluator of one’s own transformation is like watching your hair grow. Let others give you feedback and advice.
The most important thing to remember is that growth requires change, which means that transformation is not elective, it is required. So, instead of waiting, get going. Like beginning a martial art, expect it to be awkward, sometimes painful and even embarrassing. However, like martial arts which are some of the finest forms of physical and mental conditioning on the planet, once you’re in the groove, the workout, the practice, the sparring and the community become fun, something to look forward to and a part of being superbly fit and capable to take on adversity and change. Get yourself into a routine, with a mentor, practicing changing regularly. If you dedicate yourself to becoming a great leader, you will develop a mastery practice of transformation.