I talk to business owners every day that want to take their businesses to the next level, but are puzzled as to why it’s so hard. They push and work and expand and contract only to find themselves right back where they found themselves last year.

Have you ever had that feeling? – “I’m doing okay, but I can’t seem to grow past a certain plateau.”

Growth is a tricky thing, business growth is a tricky thing, because growth always involves change. And for most, change seems hard.

But, change is the ultimate secret to business growth

Actually change isn’t that hard, but we seem wired to find ways to make it so. Change involves little more than letting go of past assumptions and trying new things, admitting that you don’t have, and don’t need to have, all of the answers, showing yourself and others different ways to approach the same challenges.

Letting go is particularly hard for small business owners, it’s often a bit like sending your child off to school. The unknown is too scary, so you just clutch to what you know and, well, there you have it.

It’s sort of a paradox in business too. To get to some level of growth, you’ve got to be consistent long enough to develop some positive brand awareness, to move past that level, you’ve got to change what got you there.

The first change that may be necessary for growth is to start looking at change as a positive element of your success. Start seeing change as a good thing, start looking for signs of change, practicing change on purpose, looking for change opportunities that roll right up to your feet in the simplest of things. (Change your coffee drink)

You know, however, I’m not simply talking about making change for change sake here, I’m actually talking about looking at change strategically and then implementing it tactically.

So maybe you need a prescription for change. Below I’ve proposed 5 ways you can intentionally get change in your business life and focus on new and empowering growth behaviors.

Get Uncomfortable on Purpose! – Your wealth, your success, will correspond directly with the size of your mindset. Get in front of an audience and speak, write for an industry publication, start blogging, network with prospects, write personal thank you notes. Let someone else be in charge or take the credit for success. You can’t grow unless you are uncomfortable – embrace it!. Write a book. Start a radio show. Create a podcast. You are so much bigger than you are allowing yourself to be. Reach.

Get and Give New Skills – Read everything you put your hands on. (Perhaps starting with Duct Tape Marketing!) Read your direct mail, watch infomercials, read magazines that cover topics seemingly unrelated to your job and “this is a big one” look for ways to teach others how to grow their businesses. Become known in your industry for some specific expertise and show others how to do it. Teaching something is the fastest way to get better at it yourself.

Get Bigger Ideas – Tear your products and services apart. Look for ways to approach an industry problem like no one else can or will. Your ideas don’t have to really be that big as long as they are world altering. Come up with one idea this year that makes someone say you are nuts – and then go do it.

Get Value – No matter what you offer, it can be better. Heap more and more on your products and services, give stuff that no one expected you to give. Add services over and above what was agreed upon. Force people to talk about how incredible you are.

Get What You’re Worth – If you do any of the steps above, you will be more able to do this. Raise your prices. Choose to work with fewer clients at much higher rates. Sell based on value, not on time. And, refuse to work with clients that don’t fully appreciate the value you have to offer. You can make more space in your head to serve your clients when you don’t have clients that bring you down.

So, how do you systematically embrace change?

Join Our Content Community
Please leave this field empty.

First Name

Last Name

Your Email (this will be your username)

Password (at least 8 characters, 1 number, 1 upper and lowercase letter)

Already a member? Log In

John Jantsch

John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author of Duct Tape Marketing, Duct Tape Selling, The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.
  • You’re spot on man. For the longest time I thought my business was going to go nowhere. I figured that most companies already had a vendor that they like.

    Then I decided to get aggressive and see what problems I can solve. I realized that most companies in my industry (outsourcing) are lousy and most clients are unhappy. Then I decided to make fun of my entire industry with a blog http://BoycottSoftwareSweatshops.com

    The results have been great. I’m unique, personable, and funny. By changing the way I looked at my business I was able to grow with very little money and effort.

    Raza Imam

  • It’s a valuable and self-confidence building things you have shared. great. Thanks

  • I just wrote an article concerning change as well John. Accepting the inevitability of change is important; Directing your business activities to flow with it and take advantage of opportunities brought on by change is critical.

    Getting uncomfortable, learning new skills and setting the bar higher will impact every aspect of ourselves and our businesses. Change is such a dynamic and wonderful occurence, something to be embraced, not feared.

  • I think your right John. Fear holds most people back. What if I fail? So what, that’s what entrepreneurs are good at. Entrepreneurs learn from their mistakes. As a teacher, I’m a life long learner striving to get better at marketing. Find your niche and look for change and full steam ahead.

    Kelly Wissink

    How You Can Build a Successful Internet Business

  • Very wise and timely post John!

    After 11 years in business, I am AMAZED at how much there still is to learn. And not just to “know more stuff,” and not just because social media/Web 2.0 stuff is more complex, but because since we continue to change in our personal lives, our businesses change with us.

    Pushing out of comfort zones is so hard, but so worth it!

    We just got a new 2008 calendar with a great quote from St. Augustine:

    “Faith is believing what you don’t see. The reward of faith is seeing what you believe.”

    Kind of sums up the entrepreneurial journey, doesn’t it?


  • John Jantsch

    Hey Pam, Yes it would have made it so much easier if my parents would have just told me what I know now!

  • Your post is very thought provoking John. Thanks for the wake-up call. I agree that change is uncomfortable, but very necessary in these changing times. I mentor professional women to shift their business model away from just trading time for money. Your steps are really a roadmap to get there.

  • I agree with you, John.

    Change is so necessary in my firm, as well. To continue growing, we always have to continue changing.

    I, too, have written about change at my blog.

    Thanks, Jason M. Blumer

  • I get uncomfortable when things don’t change, or at least intensely bored, which for me is the same thing. That can be just as dangerous, as you start to break things, just to provide some excitement. Hmmm, it sounds worse than it is, I hope.

    I like the new skills approach – especially reading/learning new things. It gives me an outlet for that impulse, and reinforces my patience for execution. Lately – neurology and its impact on psychology and buying behavior. Of course, I am presently convinced that 25% of the world have only a weak grasp on reality as it is…

    Often I find this does lead to new ideas that are world altering, or at least to new ways of doing things that can shift a lot of people’s daily lives.

  • I think your wisdom can apply more broadly to individuals as well –
    “change is the ultimate secret to [personal] growth”.

    As a career/personal coach who specializes in helping overachievers (www.overachievercoach.com), I couldn’t agree with you more – change leads to growth.

    The difficulty comes when we aren’t able to make changes. We have to overcome our own inertia, habits, and fear of change before we can get to our greater potential. Just as in business, we have to look past the “well-defined” path to immerse ourselves in more challenging situations where we’ll learn more about ourselves and what works or what doesn’t.

    From a coaching standpoint, the first step is to help the individual or business recognize the benefits to change. Once they have the desire for growth, and knowing that it will require change, then the next step is to makes this change real. By focusing on smaller, manageable steps, we’re able to create change without too much anxiety. Growth happens as we absorb the lessons and wisdom along the way as we work our way into new opportunities either in life or business.

    Thanks for the insightful post!

  • Thanks for the post, John — it’s just what I needed right now.

    I don’t know if I can add any more to the conversation than what has already been said, and, I think these are great points to keep in mind (I pasted them to my eternal planning document, so I’ll be able to revisit them in perpetuity) as we go through all sorts of changes in our lives.

    Thanks again.

  • I think the best part of your post was the “Get What You’re Worth”. Too many businesses worry about having a large number of clients; instead of focusing on keep their best ones happy and successful.

  • Pingback: IMBasics.com » Blog Archive » How to Make difference in Your Business in 2008()

  • Pingback: How to un-overwhelm yourself()

  • Pingback: Embracing Change to Grow Your Business()

  • Pingback: S.M.A.R.T. Career Tips | Career Management Alliance Blog()

  • Pingback: S.M.A.R.T. Career Tips to combat the recession | Career Management Alliance Blog()

  • Thank you for the post. It has a lot of useful information. I agree with you that change is very hard for a lot of people and it seems entrepreneurs in particular get stuck working in the business instead of taking it to the next level.