Blog entry

Be Mindful of Red Flags


If you are hearing the phrase, “we’ve always done it that way” circulating around the workplace, a red flag should be waving in the back of your mind.

Far too often businesses build immunity to change. This may be as simple as employees resisting a change in pace or could be as complex as the business failing to evolve as clients’ needs and wants evolve. This is when the most dangerous phrase in business may begin to circulate. It is an excuse that is used to continue along the path the business has always travelled on without any repercussions. As soon as it’s heard, it is time to review the business practices and make room for change or growth. Further, it may be time to re-evaluate what the excuse is being used for.

First, a small business must determine why employees or management are resisting changes. For employees it could be a fear of going against management or policies. As management, it is important to take a look at the situation and the employee’s ideas of improving a system. It may be time to update an old procedure to give employees an easier and more efficient way to provide a service to a customer. On the other hand, having done something one way for years could make anything new be unfamiliar and intimidating. If the resistance to change is being caused by a new approach to an old problem, it is important for management to encourage and train employees in effort to make them feel more comfortable with the new practices. The fear of change and making a mistake is enough to make people revert to old ways. However, the cost of not changing to keep up with new times and practices has a long term price on a small business.

In time, the attitude of ‘doing things the way they have always been done’ will outdate a business. More red flags should begin to wave if the business is having issues collecting payments, has frequent complaints, or has a low ratio of returning clients. The frustration of “we’ve always done it that way” easily transfers through employees to customers. When customers increasingly become slow to pay outstanding invoices, the small business should start looking at their relationships with their customers and their employees. This is a tell-tale sign that the customer is not pleased with some aspect of the business. Two options would be to decrease the amount of credit extended towards the customers or to make amends with the customer. By making amends, the business may learn a valuable lesson about its customer relations and its employees’ customer service. It may also lead the business to understanding why there is a low ratio of returning clients or why there are frequent complaints about the company.

While change may bring about some fear, it is necessary for any business to be open to change. Embrace the growth your workplace will experience no matter how many growing pains that may occur. Customers will appreciate how the business works for their needs over the need to remain loyal to outdated procedures. Overall, it may be time to take a look at how things are done internally and quiet some of the red flags waving in the back of your mind.

Alexis Forseille

Community Futures Cariboo Chilcotin

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About Community Futures

For over 25 years, we’ve been fostering entrepreneurship in rural BC. We offer small business loans, business counseling and specialized programs to help you start or grow a business, and to help communities become more resilient and dynamic.

266 Oliver Street
Williams Lake, BC
V2G 1M1

Phone: (250)392-3626
Toll free: (888)879-5399
Fax: (250)392-4813