By Phil Buckley
My first experience with small business owners was in the late 80s. I was an operations manager for ZackÂ Famous Frozen Yogurt, a franchise chain experiencing massive growth. My role was to set up new stores and help franchisees manage them successfully.
I was inspired by each ownerÂs courage, determination and passion to win. They tackled challenges head-on and typically took a glass half-full approach to managing problems.
However, when presented with opportunities to change or expand their businesses, I noticed that many owners lacked the confidence to get to the next level. They were comfortable with what they knew, and uncomfortable with what they didnÂt know. Often, theyÂd forgo opportunities without fully exploring the benefits because their personal uncertainty was stronger than their desire for greater success.
As my career progressed into business training and then change management, I observed that most leaders struggled with change. Their confidence was tested most when their operational experience didnÂt help them assess and pursue new opportunities or manage challenges. In those circumstances, what had made them successful had little impact on their ability to manage well.
Over time, it became apparent to me that the key to managing change (offering new products, entering new markets, opening a new location, etc.) is confidence.
Here are three ways that small business owners (and any business leader for that matter) can build their confidence when they uncover big opportunities to grow their businesses:
Make a list of the skills you used when making past successful changes
Small business owners will benefit from taking stock of past accomplishments and the skills they used to achieve them. Listing them in writing will help you build a playbook on how to manage new opportunities Â steps to take, advice to get, behaviors to demonstrate, etc. Studying your past successes will help you create a path towards your goal and identify the capabilities you need to get there.
Identify who you can call upon for help
Peer support is a key enabler of evolving a business. Wise small business leaders ask for help, especially when opportunities require a departure from their current business model. Learning about how similar situations were managed, both successfully and unsuccessfully, will provide practical guidance on what you need to do, what to watch out for and how to act.
Write a solid plan
Business plans help small business owners stay focused and manage time and resources productively. They provide a means against which to track progress and a working tool to adjust as new information becomes available. A wise person once said, ÂCreate the plan, work the plan, change the plan.Â A growth opportunity business plan provides a map to confidently navigate.
It can be difficult to manage and grow a small business. With the right skills, knowledge, advice and plan, the small business owner can take the next step on their businesses journey and reach the next level of personal success. Have confidence!