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While each person’s experience in 2020 has been unique, I bet many of you lived through some version of the following:
One day you were in an office, shaking hands, having in-person meetings, and serving a known set of customer needs. And the next day, your home was your office, Zoom was your conference room, handshakes were lethal, and customer needs were being completely reinvented.
Change has become our everything. Get ready to be stretched.
Prior to 2020, you could still get by as a great performer at work even if you were a little resistant to change. But now? Not so much. Change has become our everything. And if it’s not something you naturally lean into, then the time has come to fix it. Stat.
So if you’re someone whose default has been 'I don’t want to learn this new system, process, or way of engaging with customers…', then get ready to be stretched. If you want your career to continue to soar, you’re going to need to be able to roll with change.
Resisting change is natural
If you find it hard to get comfortable with change, you're not alone.
When my kids were babies, getting them to try new foods was an experience. After they spit spoon after spoon of strained peas or carrots back into my face, I talked to my pediatrician. I learned it would take seven to eight experiences with a new food before my baby would begin to like it, or at least stop spitting it at me.
In our work lives, we’re not always offered a grace period of seven to eight exposures to a new idea.
This is due to the mere-exposure effect. While we may like or appreciate some things out of the gate (hello, chocolate fudge sundaes), our natural inclination is often to resist anything that feels different. But more exposure equals more comfort. We're wired to prefer the familiar and comfortable.
But in our work lives, we’re not always offered a grace period of seven to eight exposures to a new idea before we have to adopt it.
So let’s talk about actions you can take to open your mind and expand your comfort zone with change.
1. Scope the change
Sometimes “a change is coming” can sound like “the sky is falling.” But usually, the blue abyss above stays put. So let’s start by putting change into perspective.
Before you panic, check the sky. Is it still there? Phew! You’re OK.
Your boss just told you that you’ll be reporting to a new team. Or you’re switching to a new people-management system, or you’ll be managing a new product or account. Before you panic, check the sky. Is it still there? Phew! You’re OK.
Start by asking yourself what's really changing and what’s staying the same. You may have a new boss or new relationships to manage, but your day-to-day responsibilities aren’t shifting.
You may have a new system to learn, but the data it’s tracking, the reporting it offers—how different will they really be? Your skills will carry over.
So start by putting some boundaries around the change. This should help you take a deep breath. Now, let’s charge ahead!
2. Find your bright spots
When my kids—the spitters of pureed peas and carrots—began remote schooling this year, the change was all kinds of unwelcome. They missed friends. Their new homeroom teacher (yours truly) was highly unqualified. Everything felt messed up.
But I asked them to spend a few minutes finding and focusing on the bright spots. Because every change has bits of sparkle.
Focusing on bright spots helps open your mind, readying it for the change ahead.
They came up with extra sleep (don’t we all need it?!), jammies all day, and breakfast and lunch in bed. (Yes, we've let go of the reins a bit here at my house.)
Maybe for you, it’s the opportunity to add fluency in a new system to your resume, or to build your reputation with a new leader, team, or customer base. What’s something you can get excited about?
Big or small, focusing on bright spots helps open your mind, readying it for the change ahead.
3. Acknowledge the pains and challenges of change
Do focus on the upside. But not at the expense of acknowledging and preparing for the challenges. Don’t put your head in the sand.
If this triggers mild concern or anxiety, don’t push that down. Give it space. Address it.
We resist change for a reason. There will be growing pains. Transitioning to a new system does provide you with new opportunities. But there will also be a learning curve. It will take time, focus, and effort. You’ll be pushed out of your comfort zone. If this triggers mild concern or anxiety, don’t push that down. Give it space. Address it.
Part of gaining comfort with change is giving yourself a chance to master it. The only way to master change is to resolve and repair pain points. We can’t resolve what we can’t see, so give yourself the space to list out every single thing, big or small, that scares or challenges you.
RELATED: Why Negative Emotions Aren't All Bad
What might live on your list?
- Finding time to learn a new system
- Having to build new relationships virtually
- Feeling like a novice after years of feeling like an expert
4. Identify actions within your locus of control
Part of what makes change feel scary is the sense of losing control.
According to the Harvard Business Review:
Many employees have had to abruptly accept fundamental changes to their work routines. And these changes have been stressful… because stripped people of their autonomy… is detrimental for employee performance and well-being.
In other words, it’s normal to crave a sense of autonomy, of control. So here is where you focus on what you can control, and you make it happen.
Look at your sources of anxiety or discomfort. Identify tangible actions you can take to close the gap or minimize the pain of change.
When I left the world of full-time employment to start my own business, I was terrified of managing that change, even though I’d been the one to initiate it. But as a taker of my own medicine, I followed this very process. And when I arrived at this step, I identified a series of actions in my control.
Here’s a sampling of what I came up with
- Invite every small business owner I know to coffee and pick their brain
- Read one book per month on a relevant topic—consulting, marketing, pricing, etc.
- Hire a coach to help me learn to build
- Hire a lawyer to ensure I don’t step off a cliff
You get the idea. I was stepping into the unknown. But by identifying a series of actions designed to get me incrementally closer to known, I was re-establishing a sense of autonomy and control.
Maybe you have to learn a new system and you’re afraid it will be complicated. What steps can you take to close the gap? What can you control?
5. Commit positive change experiences to memory
I reflect on the days of smushed peas and carrots. Mostly, it was gross. But once in a blue moon, a baby would accidentally swallow a mouthful. And I was nothing but jazz hands.
Turns out, my jazz-hands-enthusiasm was accidental genius because now, baby associated mush with entertaining Mommy gymnastics. For her it became fun. And over time she downed more mush.
And really, that’s kind of your goal.
When you have your first positive experience with that new system, even if it was an accident, make a note of it. When your first client lights up at the description of that new product feature, capture that.
These winning moments add up over time. And suddenly one day you realize: Hey, these smashed peas and carrots are kinda delish! Who knew?
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Are you just trying to get your own shop or retail business off the ground? Do you have physical items to sell but don’t have the capital to open a brick-and-mortar store? With the latest iPad point-of-sale (POS) systems, you can sell your products, manage your inventory, show your products to potential customers, and even analyze your progress. This allows you unparalleled flexibility to alter your business strategy for the best results in today’s rapidly changing retail landscape.
Whether your own shop or retail boutique is still a glimmer in your eye or you’ve investigated avenues to making it a reality, you may not realize just how easy it can be to get up and selling. Renting retail space may not make as much sense during a pandemic, but there are other ways to get your products in front of your prospective customers beyond the online arena.
One such way is to investigate opportunities for popup store locations in your area. Farmers markets are great for this, but you need a location that’s equally effective in warm or cold weather. All across the country, malls are looking to repurpose themselves as their anchor department stores go bust. Many mall owners, noting the consumer trend toward buying local, are looking to fill these spaces with small-scale merchants like you. Combining a popup location when it’s cool with an outdoor spot when it’s warm could give you an effective high-traffic spot without shelling out what it would cost to rent, say, space in a strip mall or downtown location.
Get up and running
When you think of opening up your own store, you probably picture a daunting checklist as long as your arm and myriad expenses that would make launching such a venture unacceptably risky. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Today’s POS providers offer packages that can get you up and running for less outlay than you might imagine.
Part of the problem with traditional POS systems was that they were so cumbersome to learn that you could spend a month digging into their complexities and still be unable to perform some basic functions. iPad POS systems are far more intuitive, which means you’ll be able to take advantage of everything the system can do within hours, not days, weeks, or months. At first, you’ll barely be scratching the surface of your system’s capabilities, but as you grow you’ll be well served to take advantage of key features such as inventory management and customer tracking.
Optimize your inventory
The true power of today’s mobile POS systems lies in their ability to track your sales and help you manage your inventory based on your results over time. What do you sell the most and when do you sell it? What’s collecting dust? You’ll be able to view all of this at a glance, and more importantly, you’ll be able to take appropriate actions to load up on what sells and rid yourself of what doesn’t. If you do have an online store, most systems allow you to integrate your inventory management so that someone shopping online isn’t surprised that an item they want is actually out of stock because it was sold to a walk-up customer or vice versa.
Customer tracking and rewards
These days, customers have become accustomed to sharing some data with their favorite shops. This is especially true when they're rewarded for doing so. Forging mutually beneficial customer relationships takes time and can cost you a bit in the short term. However, in the long term, they can pay huge dividends not only in frequent repeat business but also when it comes to spreading the word about your shop on social media and among friends and colleagues. It’s never too early to start identifying and rewarding your loyal customers.
Fortunately, most POS software makes this easy. Simply by providing the phone number or email where they would like their receipt sent, you can start building a profile of their likes and dislikes. You can also use this info to send them promotional messages, though you will need to make sure they opt in to this service.
Customer tracking is a win-win. They win because you can use their preferences to recommend products in which they will likely be interested; you win because you can keep presenting them with products that they’re eager to buy.
If you do start building an email or SMS list, that’s an excellent way to reach out to them with a killer deal when things are slow, or to let them know about an item that you're sure they’ll want to see. Take care, though—it’s very easy to overuse these capabilities, which can drive customers away and turn them into brand ambassadors of the worst kind, former customers who tell prospective customers to stay away. However, done with the right touch, direct marketing programs can bring in a solid core of business on which you can expand.
With the pandemic raging, no one is eager to touch surfaces outside their home. That’s why it’s so critical to employ a contactless payment solution. iPad POS providers charge a bit more for these card readers, but being able to loudly tell potential customers that you have this capability will pay for the additional expense and then some.
Setting up your own shop is far from a walk in the park, but with a solid plan and a simple iPad POS solution, it need not be nearly as complicated as it has been in the past.
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