Change is hard.

Even the simplest of changes.  My husband has his favorite seat at the dinner table and if one of us happens to sit in it he gets thrown off because THAT is where he sits.  When we recently went to a restaurant that is a favorite we were initially disappointed to find they had changed the menu.  I thought, “What?!  Where is my favorite meal?  Why did they take such-and-such off?  I liked the old menu.  Will the food still be any good?  Is the company going out of business?”. Seriously, all these questions swirl around your head just because they changed the look of their menu and streamlined their food choices.

To be fair we all channel a bit of Sheldon Cooper in some way, some more  than others.

Sheldon and his spot on the couch.

Change releases a wide array of emotions? For example, for fun I posted an article on Facebook about the new (or not so new) rules regarding the numbers of spaces after a sentence. I confess I am a double-spacer. It has been engrained into me and my fingers know no other way.  I found the article amusing and, yes, I am trying to be mindful of the proper writing etiquette (please do not count my spaces, I can guarantee they are inconsistent), however I was quite unprepared for the “strong” responses to a seemingly harmless article. Really, in the grand scheme of things I could care less how many spaces come after your sentence, or mine, but it was quite a revelation of how resistant to change we can be.

Let’s face it, we like to be comfortable.  When something is familiar we know what to expect, we can have our guard down, we can get cozy and comfortable and in essence, it brings us security. Familiarity is stress-free.  So when I announced yet another change in my business I had some moans and groans because what was familiar and comfortable now generated fear of the unknown.

I like it when my life is comfortable and stress-free, yet in business it rarely is.  That’s because in business (and most every area of our lives) if you are not changing and growing you are becoming stagnant and dying.  The changes I am making have not been easy or fun, and there were lots of tears and a couple sleepless nights while I wrestled through change.  On the other hand, the idea of change can be wonderfully intoxicating.  Some would argue that I’m addicted to change.  I suppose I am in some ways.

  • I can’t stand it if the layout of my store doesn’t change every few weeks.  I’m constantly rearranging my store so if feels new and exciting.
  • I’ve moved (not necessarily by choice) over 20 times in the last 16 years.
  • I’m on my fourth major change in my business in five years.
  • If there isn’t something in my life that is changing I feel like there is something wrong.

I look at change in business as being prudent and necessary to find that “sweet spot” that results in longevity and profitability. I have had to learn and adapt – taking one step at a time.  I started in 2009 with $500, an idea, and a jar of chocolate.  I knew I wanted a retail store but had no idea how to get there so I started with what I knew from direct sales…home shows. Then I traveled and set up at art and craft shows and finally opened a retail store in Feb. of 2012.  I went from selling Colorado made chocolate, salsa, and other handcrafted goods to cowgirl boots and dresses.  I’ve had to change due to necessity and because I made mistakes.

The first name of my retail store was Urban Cowgirl, however it didn’t occur to me that there would be a problem with that name only to discover 6 months later that it was trademarked.  When I renamed the store I didn’t fully consider the perception Rocky Mountain Cowgirl would generate and the inconsistency with my target market (who were not cowgirls). I’m not a true cowgirl, just someone who likes the western look and I was looking to market to women who liked a “western-inspired” look versus true country/cowgirl.  I learned quickly that there were very specific perceptions attached to the name “cowgirl” that alienated many of the ladies I had intended to market to yet attracted others – only to disappoint several customers as I was not what they expected.

It came to the point where I had to make a decision.  My brand was not in alignment with my deadhorsetarget market and it wasn’t working despite my efforts to communicate that we were a “western-inspired” boutique and not necessarily a “cowgirl” store.  No matter what I did I was still the “cowgirl” store.  Not necessarily a bad thing but there are not enough cowgirls in this town to support a boutique.  It was time to dismount a dead horse and either give up or change a few things and press on. With the nudge of my family I chose to press on by making more changes.  [Frankly, I hope I don’t have to make another name change or move or something major like that again, but if that is what is required to stay alive and thrive then I must be willing to move into the discomfort of change (again). ]

On the other hand, change can be exciting.  It’s like a giant adventure.  You never know what tomorrow will bring other than tomorrow WILL bring change and we must learn to adapt in order to move forward. We can’t be afraid to press on again and again.  I believe that those who succeed in anything are the ones who keep pressing on and never giving up when it looks like from the outside that they should.  They find ONE MORE way to move forward and it starts with being willing to change.

What about you?  What kind of changes are you faced with that makes you tense up inside and be resistant?  Is it a change that is necessary for you to move to the next level?  Or is it a change that has to happen in order to correct a mistake?  Don’t be too proud to admit a mistake and change it.  So what if someone thinks you are wishy-washy and can’t make up your mind.  Do what needs to be done.

All this talk of change make me want to go curl up in a snuggly blanket with a cup of tea on my favorite spot on the couch.  At least THAT hasn’t changed!