"I like people who shake other people up and make them feel uncomfortable."
--- Jim Morrison
Do you ever feel like you're in a rut? Like the days run into one another and the business begins to seem stagnate? I think we all get that from time to time. Sometimes that is just what happens over time when we do the same things day in and day out. Many times, it just feels comfortable there. Like driving off road somewhere. It's often easier to just keep the wheels in the ruts to avoid hitting a stump or getting stuck in the mud.
But being in a rut can be a symptom of something more serious going on. It could be the beginning of the end for the business as we know it. In her book, The Change Monster, The Human Forces that Fuel or Foil Corporate Transformation and Change, Jeanie Daniel Duck addresses the seriousness of the stagnation phase in business. As a consultant with The Boston Consulting Group, Duck has seen how damaging this phase can be to businesses. She cites what stagnation did to America Online, Hewlett Packard, and Gillette, just to name a few. Duck states, "Stagnation can be devastating to an organization if not immediately recognized and serious action taken."
"In a gentle way, you can shake the world."
--- Mahatma Gandi
Without calling in an organization the size of The Boston Consulting Group, we can protect our businesses by first recognizing the stagnation phase. This is the phase where, although business may seem okay and the economy is trucking along, sales remain flat. We are still selling our products and services, but there is not any stellar growth happening. We are losing steam and it won't be long before customers go elsewhere, and we have to put in more resources in order to attract more customers. Then this cycle continues until the business goes bust.
What's required is a wake-up call for you and your business. This means that we must stop the status quo of doing business and begin shaking things up.
"You know those little snow globes that you shake up? I always thought my brain was sort of like that. You know, where you just give it a shake and watch what comes out and shake it again. It's like that."
--- Gary Larson
To really shake things up and get our business out of the stagnation phase, we must first shake up how we personally do things. Business leader, author, and leadership speaker, John C. Maxwell, in his book, Thinking for a Change, says that you should first begin doing little things differently to get out of the rut. He suggests taking a different route to work each day for a couple of weeks, change your working hours, read something you wouldn't normally read, listen to music you wouldn't normally listen too, order a meal you never had, and so forth.
Begin with making changes with yourself first before changing up the business. You must be shaken before you can shake others.
"I think that if you shake the tree, you ought to be around when the fruit falls to pick it up."
--- Mary Cassatt
Next, step back and take a look at your business. Even though you are selling, could you tweak the sign product or service just a little? Making progressive changes to what you offer your customers can add more value for them. Customers become intrigued and want to buy what you are selling. You may even be able to increase prices without spending too much on the changes.
Finally, shake up your staff. They too get used to doing things the same way and become stagnant in their work. In this phase, team members can begin to lose their creativity inspiration. Shake them up by calling an all-hands meeting. Brainstorm some positive changes for the business. Allow them to come up with the craziest ideas possible-all ideas are accepted in this meeting. Hand out buttons or T-shirts that say, "Shake it Up," or whatever gets them serious about stirring the company pot.
Then, whittle the ideas to ones that will shake up the company and offer profitable changes for the business.
"Today is life-the only life you are sure of. Make the most of today. Get interested in something. Shake yourself awake. Develop a hobby. Let the winds of enthusiasm sweep through you. Live today with gusto."
--- Dale Carnegie