I have been painting my toe nails red since fighting post natal depression after the birth of my first baby. The psychologist suggested that ‘no one could be depressed when they looked down and saw their bright cheery red toe nails’. Well, unfortunately I have proved that theory wrong many times over the years, but I have enjoyed painting my toe nails red, with the odd digression into a bright pink. My baby daughter, is now almost 11 years old, and I feel it’s time for a big change. I borrowed her nail polish and went purple. It doesn’t look right, it doesn’t feel right, but I’m enjoying the challenge of a change!
Change is such a big topic. It is the essence of counselling theory, self-help books, business coaching and just everyday life. Sometimes it hits me why us Mums can be such basket-cases at times. We are constantly dealing with enormous amounts of change. First pregnancy – the body, the hormones, the emotions, the relationships – everything changes. Then the baby is born. Just when you think you’ve got your head around her crazy routine, it changes, and then again and again. The rate of growth of a newborn is so rapid that it almost seems not worth buying them clothes at all in the first year, as they grow out of them as fast as you can sort them. You start teaching your baby, then suddenly they want to do everything for themselves. They want help, but only when they want it, and in the correct way that only they know. So you survive those first crazy 5 years of rapid change and growth, your head and heart are still spinning, when suddenly you are swept off into the world of education. Personally I have been mostly navigating the public school system in Australia, with a small taste of the private system some years ago. The changes with school are all about friends. Each week there are dramas with who said what and who did what. Teachers, timetables, after school activities, all constantly changing until my head spins.
So why is attitude to change an important topic for small business. Well the way I see it is, as a small business, one of our biggest advantages over the big boys, is our ability to rapidly change and adapt to new opportunities. Big businesses are slow to make decisions with complex bureaucratic systems. A small business can see a new opportunity and act on it quickly. It can also respond to the changing needs of its customers as it becomes aware of them. It can adopt new technology without enormous cost, and can experiment with the best uses for it.
In John English’s book that I have previously reviewed, he has a questionnaire for would be small business operators. I enjoyed doing the questionnaire, though I was a little surprised to be told by it that one of my weaknesses is being inflexible. This inflexibility that I can now identify throughout my life is about my response to change, and to new ideas. Though I am full of ideas myself, I tend to be cautious, seeing the risks and negative possibilities. This protects me from mistakes and bad decisions. But in business it needs to be balanced with the willingness to risk, to be positive, and to embrace change.