It used to be said that the only people who like change are babies with, well, dirty diapers. And I used to believe that, too. Then my youngest son proved the cliché so very wrongand, along the way, taught me a profound lesson in business and in life that I wont soon forget.
Just a few weeks ago while sitting at the dinner table, I noticed an unmistakable fetor, shall we say, emanating from Nicholas, who wasnt wearing a diaper. So I stopped eating and looked him right in the eye as he stood there on his chair. From there, the conversation went something like this:
Nicholas, did you do something in your pants? I asked him.
No, he said, looking right at me with serious determination.
Come on, Nick, you did something in your pants, didnt you?
Now Nick, are we going to have to change your pants?
No, he insisted. I just tooted.
With that, he sat down and finished his dinner.
Think about that for a moment. Heres a kid who absolutely needed to embrace change, a kid who knows all too well the consequences of remaining unchanged for any length of time. And yet the perceived humiliation and embarrassment of admitting a need for change was enough to drive him to shameless denial.
Some business owners and their employees are no different. Market conditions change. Technologies change. Customer attitudes change. So why do some business owners choose to remain comfortable in the status quo? When its time to change their names or their product lines or even their distribution systems to fit the times, they sit down and keep working. Why change something that helped get them to this point, they reason. Why rock the boat?
The answer is simple: diaper rash.
What I dont understand, though, is that, when those owners and top executives start feeling the pain of their deliberate inactions, many of them remain in denial right up until the very death of their companies. At this point, they seem so embarrassed by their previous inaction that, by making the change in the end, they would have to admit they were wrong before. So they just stand at the table and say No.
As you will see in this months issue, change is the overriding themenot so much in the content or in the many subjects we address, but rather in the way we, at SBN, have embraced change ourselves.
As you will notice on the cover, we have narrowed our name to SBN and have added the much-needed tagline, Smart Ideas for Growing Companies. We made the change for one simple reason.
As weve learned over the years, the word small is such a subjective term. The U.S. Small Business Administration defines small business as any company with 500 employees or less. Some would call that large. Others view small as that little corner grocer in your neighborhood, or the old barber at the end of main street. And some small companies owners simply dont like the idea of calling their $10 million revenue enterprises, well, small.
Meanwhile, our goal from day one almost five years ago was to educate entrepreneurs and help our readers grow their companies. You could say that, technically, were not about small business and were not about big business. We are about the growth strategies that help transform small businesses into big businesses. But thats not always how weve been perceived.
What we needed to change, then, was how we convey that message to our readers and advertisers. Hence, the new tagline.
Weve also changed the inside, from a fresh new design to a cleaner presentation of local business strategies and other lessons from the local trenches. All of the changes are reader driven and aimed at making SBN easier to read and easier to cultivate ideas you can use to grow your companies.
Sure, we could have stayed the same. We could have found a way to justify the notion that what weve done in the past works just fine. And we could have ignored your continued input over the years. But would our competition?
Will your competition?
Change gives us energy. It positions us for the future. It gives us all hope in moving forward. It keeps us alive. Indeed, change is good.
Unfortunately, Nick learned that the hard way. As he found, the consequences of inaction are inevitably more painful than change.
Reach editor Dan Bates by phone at (412) 321-6050, by fax at (412) 321-6058, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.