A Guide To Elevating Your Business

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Amiee Ball is the founder of JAB Consulting Group. She has trained over 10,000 business owners and executives on how trust drives results.

At dinner last week, a friend stared at me blankly. I’d spent 10 minutes talking about my job, yet she looked confused.

“So, you’re still running the marketing company?” she asked, the question mark practically audible. I sighed and shook my head. “No, not marketing.”

That’s when my son piped up. And then my significant other also gave it one last shot. “Consulting, isn’t it?” He looked hopeful. But alas, it was not to be.

So, what do I do?

“I’m like a business lubricant,” I explained. “I find where things are sticking in businesses—communication snags, outdated tech, process problems and a lack of trust. Then, I roll up my sleeves and get the gears of business running slicker than a waterslide.”

How can businesses conquer the friction battle?

By finding four horsemen of the innovation apocalypse: inertia, effort, emotion and resistance.

1. Inertia

Inertia is your teenager on the couch asking “why bother moving when I can play video games?” But, in the world of business, if you’re not moving, you’re getting left behind.

To tackle inertia head-on, first paint a vivid picture of how much better things could be. Show your team the potential rewards and benefits of embracing change. Highlight the exciting opportunities and growth that await them outside their comfort zone.

To start picturing a different future, ask some critical questions.

• What aspects of our current operations are holding us back?

• Are there new technologies or processes that could revolutionize our efficiency and customer experience?

• How can we inspire our team to embrace change and see it as an opportunity for growth?

Instead of abandoning the familiar altogether, find a balance. Identify the areas that need improvement and showcase how new solutions can enhance efficiency, productivity and profitability. Make it crystal clear that taking action will lead to a brighter future.

2. Effort

Next enters effort—the sensation that trying something new, doing something different, is just too Herculean a task. Luckily, I have the ultimate recipe to kick this monster to the curb and make things easy.

• Chop it up. Instead of tackling the entire challenge in one daunting swoop, break it down into bite-sized tasks. By dividing the effort into manageable chunks, you’ll prevent overwhelm and make steady progress toward your goal.

• Automate. Identify areas in your business that can be automated, such as data entry, email responses or inventory management. Embrace technology, explore software solutions and let automation do the heavy lifting while you focus on the things that truly require your genius touch.

• Streamline. Trim the fat by taking a close look at your processes to identify any bottlenecks or unnecessary steps. Simplify, streamline and eliminate anything that hinders progress.

• Optimize. Seek opportunities for improvement by identifying areas where you can maximize efficiency and productivity, while making strategic tweaks to enhance performance.

3. Emotion

Humans wouldn’t be human without emotion. Deal with emotions like fear and uncertainty by building trust, fostering connections and creating a sense of camaraderie amid the change. Ensure everyone is on the same page, feels valued, heard and involved in the process. Some ideas for doing this include:

• Communicate openly with employees through one-on-one conversations and team meetings.

• Conduct surveys to gather honest feedback.

• Lead with authenticity, showing your vulnerability and true self.

• Encourage collaboration and break down silos for stronger connections.

• Appreciate and recognize your team’s hard work.

• Paint a clear vision and goals, keeping everyone informed and involved.

If you’re feeling lost in the jungle of emotions and trust-building, you may want to consider leadership coaching. (Disclosure: I help with this.) We often don’t know what we don’t know, and a little guidance can work wonders.

4. Resistance

Lastly conquer resistance. The outright rejection of new ideas or changes is the toughest nut to crack. Tackle it head-on, engaging in open, honest dialogue to understand the root cause, then work toward a solution.

First, be curious. Ask, “What’s really holding you back? What are you afraid of?” Understanding the why is like unlocking the secret chamber of change.

Next, encourage open-minded thinking by showing people how the potential benefits align with their personal goals and aspirations. Speak their language and appeal to their self-interest.

But don’t stop there. Break down their barriers with empathy and understanding. Put yourself in their shoes and acknowledge their fears, concerns and doubts. Show them that you’re a compassionate leader who genuinely cares about their well-being. When they feel heard and valued, resistance starts to crumble.

Start small, gain trust, and prove that this new way of doing things is worthwhile.

How does this look in practice?

Take a typical mom-and-pop shop. Call it Bob’s Bakery. Bob’s is a beloved neighborhood staple, but behind the scenes, they’re stuck in the Dark Ages: Orders taken on paper. Inventory tracked manually. Bob running ragged trying to keep all the balls in the air while suffocating cash flow.

Bob’s inertia leaves him idling for years. So we walk Bob through the marvels of modern tech, showing him the ease of digital ordering and automating inventory. We show him the time saved, stress avoided and cash flow improvements.

Unfortunately, Bob is still scared. Changing how he’s always done things is daunting. So we break it down, starting with a digital ordering system. We take the monstrous mountain of effort and turn it into a manageable molehill.

What about the team? Some employees are anxious about new systems, worried about their place in this newfangled, tech-savvy bakery. Enter the magic of trust. Don’t steamroll these emotions. Engage with the team. Listen to their concerns. Involve them in the process. Foster connections to ensure team members feel valued, heard and involved in the transformation.

But, we’re not done. There’s still resistance. Joe’s been baking bread at Bob’s since the dawn of time and is concerned “this tech is nothing but trouble.” So, we put on our diplomat hats and engage in open dialogue—work with him toward a solution that takes his views into account while propelling Bob’s forward. That is how to turn a beloved mom-and-pop shop into a thriving business ready to take on the world.

Do you take on inertia, minimize effort, handle emotions and shatter resistance? Is it time to stop being a passenger in your business and start taking the driver’s seat?

Forbes Business Council is the foremost growth and networking organization for business owners and leaders. Do I qualify?

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