Strike the Hammer While the Iron Is Hot

Life is all about changes. No matter how much you want things to stay the same, they are going to change. Sometimes it feels like things will never change, but even when you can’t tell time is moving and changes are happening. Kids are growing, skin is aging, wealth is accumulating or trickling away. There’s no escape.

Changing your bank account or your insurance company feels like a giant hassle and often gets put off until something forces you to make the change. Last time I changed banks I put it off for months even though I was wholly dissatisfied with the service because it felt like switching would be so difficult.

It wasn’t difficult at all. A few minutes at  my new bank to set everything up, a few phone calls to make sure my bills continued to be paid and it was done. The stress I’d felt for months worrying about making what seemed like a huge change was gone in about an hour.

But when it comes to making significant, purposeful change, getting the timing just right can be hard. Some of it has to do with time management, which is an issue for lots of people. But some of it is just being able to strike while the iron is hot, and learning to trust your instincts.

Right now, I am marketing to garden centers, landscapers, nursery owners and others in the horticulture industry. On the one hand, this is a miserable time to contact those folks because they are so busy. On the other, it is the perfect time to contact them…because they are so busy.

Creating content for blogs and newsletters takes time, and an exhausted business owners really appreciate my ability to save time during the busiest season of the year. Usually, when I call a business I try to make sure it’s a time when they won’t be too busy. Getting in touch during the most hectic few weeks of the year is a new marketing tactic for me. I’ll let you know how it works out in a few months.

Knowing that you have to make a change can cause fear and hesitation, as it did with my bank switch. When it comes to your business, you don’t want to waste time – and possibly lose money – by procrastinating making a change that feels momentous. Here are a few tips that have helped me approach big changes with less trepidation:

– Break the change into steps, so that it happens incrementally instead of all at once. I am updating this entire site one page at a time because rewriting a page is no big deal, but rewriting a site is daunting.

– Talk to someone about what you are changing. Just describing what you want or need to do may help you untangle some of the emotion that accompanies big changes, and getting the perspective of someone you trust is almost always helpful.

– Give yourself deadlines for the steps you need to take to implement your change. It won’t do me much good to rewrite the pages of this site if I only do one every three months or so. The task will be hanging over my head forever, causing stress and will never get done.

– Write out a plan. It’s probably because I am a writer, but I often find that writing out what I need to do and why helps me form a good plan and come up with the steps necessary to complete a scary change.

It’s also important to remember that not all change is good. Continuing evaluation and evolution of your processes and your business plan is vital so that if you make a change that does you harm, you can change again and correct the problem.

Do you have any specific approaches to making changes to your business? Does change inspire fear or excitement for you? What do you do when you make a change but it doesn’t work out? I’d love to hear how other people handle the almost endless changes involved in owning a business.

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