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Jul 18

Most Business Change Happens over Time

Posted by: Steve Marr

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Change will impact every business. Often we look to the next big stroke, a jump in technology, or a future event. Change, however, often happens slowly, developing over time, providing an opportunity for us to understand that change and react before we get passed by.

First, the future is not predictable. As James wrote, “How do you know what will happen tomorrow?” (James 4:14 NLT). While we need to look forward, we also need to understand that the future is unpredictable. Popular Science Magazine, as late as the 20th century said, “As a means of rapid transit, aerial navigation could not begin to compete with the railroad” and was clearly wrong.

Second, most change occurs over time, even when the results seem to become evident overnight. Consider the temporary overthrow of King David by Absalom. David was told, “The hearts of the men of Israel are with Absalom,” and David said to all his servants who were with him at Jerusalem, “Arise and let us flee, for otherwise none of us shall escape” (2 Samuel 15:13-14 NASB). To the casual observer, it seemed that David — the mighty victor over many armies and the victor over Goliath — were overthrown on that one day.

However, Absalom had been working at the city gates for a very long time, turning the hearts of the people against his father and making steady progress every day (See 2 Samuel 15:2-6). Further, Absalom was public and visible for all to see. King David either knew, or should have known, what was happening. Action could have easily been taken to head off the revolt before the insurrection began. Since action was not taken, many lives were lost, and King David almost lost his throne and his life.

Third, most changes start small and mushroom. The Prophet Habakkuk wrote, “Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled” (Habakkuk 2:3 NLT).

The current crisis within the U.S.-based auto industry has been coming on for a very long time. Over the past 35 years, market share has steadily declined, while labor costs have increased. Today, Ford and General Motors are on the brink. Similarly, the growth of FM radio over AM radio was a long march, and the rise in talk radio has taken years to develop.

In your businesses, rather than looking to the next future event that will rocket you forward, consider what changes have happened in our environment but have not yet had the full impact. Then make plans for redirecting your business based on those changes.

Here are several great examples: 1 — A dental practice client was struggling to fill daytime appointments. I pointed out that currently 90 million American adults are not married, with 53 million who have never been married. The reality is that these people have trouble leaving work for daytime appointments. The dentist changed office hours, opening later and staying open four evenings a week and all day Saturday. The result was the young dentist was able to quickly fill the appointment schedule and prosper.
2 — An auto parts supply store was struggling with declining business in a neighborhood growing with Spanish speaking residents. I suggested he hire several bilingual counter staff and add some signage in Spanish to better serve these customers. The result was a growth in business.
3 — Many restaurant customers are demanding more health-conscious menu options. This trend has been going on for over 25 years. The Atkins diet is one example, and many establishments are wisely reacting. Today, MacDonald’s is the world’s purveyor of salads. Who would have thought that the home of the Big Mac and fries would sell so many salads and yogurt too!


To keep your business up to date, look at the events that are unfolding in society and your community. How do you need to change business tactics and strategy to align your business with these new realities? Identify three to five things that have changed in your competitive environment and then determine what adjustments you need to make.

Some changes may be major, others minor. The reality is that as we watch, understand, and then react to the changes that are happening right before our eyes, we will move our businesses forward.

Steve Marr, Your Christian Business Coach

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