10 Ways to Improve Business by Being Agile
“The only constant is change,” said a wise sage in ancient times. Agility is what it takes to handle all the changes that life brings each day, every season, year after year.
Watch Mother Nature’s agility as fall begins. In the Northeast, for example, the leaves turn from gorgeous green to red and fiery orange and finally, to brown. As an entrepreneur, being agile is essential, because having the flexibility of movement to adapt to an environment of change is a key principle for success.
What do we mean when we talk about agility? The dictionary defines agility as “the power of moving quickly and easily.” The key word here is POWER, because every individual, no matter what the circumstance, has the power to be agile. Finding that power within is the first step towards using agility as a way to achieve your goals.
Some people think of power as negative in its ability to control others. But it’s important to view power in its most positive sense. Personal power is having a positive attitude towards yourself that makes you strong, confident and competent. You aren’t born with power and it’s not just a switch you can turn on. Acquiring personal power requires having a vision of success, and it happens gradually over time.
Finding the power within to adapt to changing circumstances is the first step to becoming agile in business. Change can be as simple as taking a different route on the way to work. Or it can involve making big life changes such as starting a business or moving to a new city. If you think about it, you probably make dozens of changes in everyday life, from switching out items in a shopping cart to adding accessories to an outfit.
There are three ways to look at agility:
1) Agility informs what you do next when unpredicted situations arise that force you to adjust a tactic you had previously laid out.
2) Agility is a perspective that allows you to seek solutions, possibilities and potential, even when your initial impression is that you’ve hit a wall.
3) Agility compels you to keep trying, even when hitting dead ends. Each time you apply what you’ve learned, you see the possibility of successfully completing what might have seemed impossible.
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It’s helpful to further break down agility into its two forms: change agility and learning agility:
Learning agility is the willingness and the ability to take newly acquired information and learn it, apply it, and then practice it.
Change agility is the ability to recognize change that happens around you, push past any fear of it, adjust any necessary behavior or tactics, and apply those adjustments to the situation that has been affected by the change.
The reason entrepreneurs need the personal power to be agile is because business requires us to adapt to many things, including those we cannot change, such as product availability, funding resources, bank rates and so on.
In business, however, there are things that we do have the power to change, and that is where agility comes in.
Here are 10 ways to improve business by being agile:
Change strategies that no longer work.
Look at new ways to market products and services.
Find additional places to reach customers.
Revamp displays, if a business is product-based.
Showcase additional ways to utilize products and services.
Consider additional means to promote your business.
Network with new groups of people to gain additional contacts.
Implement technology to simplify business processes that will free up time to build the business.
Develop a daily, weekly and monthly plan and respond to new circumstances and opportunities.
Turn negatives into positives.
The last one is actually the hardest. When you’re down, it can be difficult to look up. Take a cue from professional boxers – they get knocked down time and again, but even when it seems they’re down for the count, somehow, they manage to get back up again.
Being an independent businessperson, it can be difficult not to feel knocked down when experiencing rejection. But, as the exchange in the film The Godfather reminds us, “It’s not personal. It’s strictly business.”
When a sales pitch gets a thumbs-down from a prospective customer, it’s a rejection of the product or service, not the person selling it. It’s more difficult in a direct sales business where customers might be friends, neighbors or members of the same community. But the truth is the same: It’s business, not personal.
As the seasons change this fall, look out the window for cues from Mother Nature and remember that success requires that you accept change as a constant.