Decision time on change

Australia’s SMEs are going through a massive period of change, which will change the business landscape. Don’t be left behind.



Australia’s SME community is facing a big year of change. Half a million very small business owners will face very significant choices this year: do they take on an additional employee to maintain the growth of their enterprise or do they seek equity partners to share the costs of business development?


A quarter of a million small business owners have reached a stage of development that requires them to professionalise their management practices, consider taking on more employees and explore the potential of export markets to expand beyond being a family business.


Another group of small business owners report that they are feeling the pressure of more government regulatory pressures and less freedom to operate their business without many more hours dedicated to winning work and promoting their enterprise. This group is thinking about exiting and taking advantage of superannuation incentives.


These conditions create the optimum environment for a review of the change management practices of small and medium enterprises. I might be dissatisfaction with current practices and pressures, seeking an alternative path that provides a way out or a way up to a better quality of life and a favourable social and economic climate in which to undergo the processes of transition, or transactions and transformation to a preferred and desired future


The vast majority of SMEs resist the impulse to take on an additional worker, even from within their own family, because of the added responsibility and structured demands that come with becoming “an employer”.


Overcoming this natural resistance in good times requires a commitment to look for new ideas and new directions for the business that give it a life beyond the “self-employed” status and enable the expansion into new products, services and experiences that are associated with a managed enterprise with the range of skills and competencies associated with medium and larger firms.


In the next month, become aware of the positive trends in the macro-environment as well as in the micro-environment so as to be able to identify changes and initiate programs to capture the full potential, or move quickly to find ways to exit the business in the most profitable manner by transferring the opportunity to more adventurous business owners.


The growth and expansion program must be implemented, disseminated throughout the organisation, monitored for effectiveness, and adjusted to respond to customer expectations. The owners and top management team must try and predict what employee reactions will be and craft a change program so workers will accept change.


The best change management processes will actively engage family and staff members in an active process of discovery, exploration, exploitation of emerging opportunities and enjoyment of the rewards to be gained from a combination of innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship.


Companies that are able to chase emerging opportunities usually demonstrate an entrepreneurial change management capacity based on five building blocks described by the ADKAR model:


Awareness. Why change is needed to capture opportunity.
Desire. To support and participate in required changes.
Knowledge. How to manage and direct the changes.
Ability to implement new skills and behaviours.

Reinforcement. To get others to join in and sustain the change through the inevitable challenges and conflicts.


It is decision time. With the resources boom reaching its peak and the labour market showing signs of inflationary pressure, now is the time to use strategic thinking to create a longer-term vision.


Do the SmartCompany change management quiz. How good is your change-management strategy?



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