Change is the only constant in the world of startups.  It’s not only inevitable, it is mandatory for startup survival, so essential that everyone in your business must be ready to deal with it. Change management is essential for business growth but enacting change successfully depends on the interaction of all stakeholders.

Despite a startup’s focus on changing their industry, more often than not they forget that they too must change as often as the market evolves.  Unfortunately for many startups, it’s too late.

Statistics say you won’t survive as a startup if your staff and business cannot embrace change. As a leader of your organization, it’s up to you to get yourself and your team out of your collective comfort zones to embrace change, rather than letting change dictate your path. As humans we’ve developed our own style of accomplishing things, and even the slightest change can have a significant impact on this, frequently leaving people feeling uncomfortable that their previous way of doing things has been affected.

As entrepreneurs we are generally invigorated by ‘change’ in our businesses, especially when they are associated with positive outcomes. As we are part of the change management process, often we can only see the positives and it is easy to become frustrated when team members either don’t embrace it or flat our don’t get it.

Why do employees resist change? It happens for a numerous reasons; people in your startup believe that they are quite happy working the way they were before. They accept the changes but do not completely understand the need for them as a result struggle to apply them to their daily working lives or change their old routines.

That happens because in an early-stage start-up your team is working very closely together with pinpoint focus on executing the deals without limited processes and controls.  As a result your startup likely doesn’t to have the kind of process and procedures in place that larger companies do, where you need change review meetings to balance competing priorities schedule.

The typical startup focuses process, procedures and flows around business it is trying to win or has won, as organization grows, it’s critically important to implement qualitative factors such as employee and customer satisfaction, learning, innovation, and growth.

Most startups struggling to manage rapid growth either halt their efforts and shift resources required to build change management and implement new process and procedures needed for continued growth for three major reasons:

  1.    Attrition increases as lot of old employees leave as they either struggle with change or are resistant to change
  2.    Process and procedure architecture and implementation takes time and effort from leadership team
  3.    Lack of effective measurements to monitor changes on a periodic basis and respond on the learnings to take corrective measures

To improve the structure, systems, processes and shared values of your organization and your team members here are six points to focus on.

  1.   Market Awareness –Evaluate yourself and everyone on your teams’ ability to proactively scan the marketplace for trends, opportunities, and market and/or customer feedback? A focus on market awareness is crucial to timely innovation the market is craving.
  2.   Customer Centered Approach –A startup that is hyper-focused on satisfying customer needs and providing exception service to all stakeholders, is a more effective startup at adapting to change.
  3.   Agility – Agility represents a startup’s ability to immediately and effectively engage everyone in pending changes to drive innovations.  Performing the “pivot” at the right time is critical to success. From top to bottom an organization that can engage and adapt quickly is one that can be successful.
  4.   Implementation – Organizations of all sizes need to have specific processes in place to enact and manger change, including communication, reward systems that reinforce desired change behavior, measurement and accountability for results. An autocratic or dysfunctional management environment is not ideal for implementation.   Change needs to be driven by a committee comprising of team members from all levels of the organization.
  5.   Culture – Change management is difficult work, and requires vision, creativity and direction sometimes in contradiction current organizational track. People need to have the right attitude, and make the choice from the beginning to be ready to pivot at any time. In addition to mindset, they need a sense of urgency to handle change, and confidence in their leaders.
  6.   Measurement and correction –This is the ability to appropriately analyze problems, assess risks, and take responsibility for problem-dictated and market-dictated changes, while still sustaining the day-to-day business activities. It’s called crisis management in the startup environment.

Startups typically see more benefits from change they are prepared for rather than change that is imposed on them by market forces. In addition to preparing for change, identification of the need to change and the ability to effectively manage is crucial to success. Learning capability to identify and pivot early on will allow companies to address future problems and take advantage of opportunities more quickly and effectively than their competitors.