An Easy Guide to Making Change Happen for Small Business Owners

November 11, 2022

Move fast and break things.

Mark Zuckerberg is renowned for this adage, which became the mantra in Facebook's very early days. It was a call to staff, and other entrepreneurs alike to not waste time, to be decisive, and never linger on a decision.

It felt like the only way to build a really big company really fast.

Lo and behold: it worked. Moving quickly and breaking things created one of the most valuable companies in the world. However, the effects of Facebook's culture and the new product it had created deeply impacted the world in many ways.

This idea of moving quickly and breaking things perpetuated "shiny object syndrome" among entrepreneurs.

New founders coveted speed above all else.

Shiny object syndrome (SOS) is a continual distraction brought on by an ongoing belief that something new is worth pursuing.

It manifests in many ways: you may create a plan and then blow it up in pursuit of something that seems more beneficial. You may introduce new software, systems, or processes on a whim instead of carefully evaluating what will create a lasting impact. You may be chasing trends on TikTok, hoping your service goes viral instead of creating a long-term digital strategy.

The truth is: change takes time.

What Gets Measured Gets Managed

Success is almost impossible to define without defining a starting and ending point.

Think about it: you know that something is successful when you see a result! You know your business is growing when you see your sales increase, employees being hired, and more products or services making their way into the world.

The idea that a result drives success translates to minor tasks as well.

If you're looking for new software to automate how your business pays bills, success might look like saving 5 minutes because you've eliminated the need to write and mail a check.

All businesses are built on systems and processes - from the largest organizations in the world to micro side hustles; a process is simply the standard way you do things in your business. When looking to improve or change any system or process, we must first define the current approach's effectiveness to evaluate whether the new method is more efficient.

Suppose you're looking to improve something in your business. In that case, whether it's your sales and marketing, your accounting processes, or even your manufacturing, you must first understand how to measure for the improvement you want.

Once you know how to measure, you'll need data over time.

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Time Gives You a Larger Data Set

We've all seen those ubiquitous toothpaste commercials that boast about four out of every five dentists recommending a particular brand.

What we don't see from many of these commercials is how many dentists were surveyed?

Suppose we had the option between seeing the results of a study that surveyed ten dentists and a study that surveyed 10,000 dentists about a particular toothpaste brand. We'd be more inclined to choose the larger sample size: 10,000 dentists!

With more data points at our disposal, there's a much higher probability that we'll find a consensus. In our example, we may quickly find that many dentists suggest one toothpaste brand over the other.

This principle applies to our businesses, too.

The longer we can measure the impact of something new, the better we'll be able to see a particular result.

Indeed, the most significant hurdle that most businesses face is their lack of time. We don't have time to measure everything for long periods, so we must make do with what we can.

The 90-Day Rule for Small Businesses

Three months is a long time for a growing small business.

It's long enough for you to change your company's direction completely!

If you're making a significant change in your company - whether it's marketing, financial, or even operational - you'll likely see a preliminary result within 90 days. This period is long enough that you'll gather enough data in most cases to see whether or not your implemented change has been effective.

If you're short on time, you can attempt to measure the effectiveness of your change within 60 or even 30 days. Depending on the changes you're introducing, you may see results sooner! However, remember that you may not be able to gather enough data in those timeframes, so take those results with a grain of salt.

The 90-Day Rule requires that you stay consistent; you cannot deviate from the change you're hoping to make for at least three months without skewing your results. It's the complete antithesis of shiny object syndrome.

After you've measured the impact your change is having on your business, you'll be able to decide whether or not you should continue or make a new change. At its core, understanding the data that your business is creating will allow you to make far better-informed decisions than ever before.

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Jeremy Millar
Written by:
Jeremy Millar

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