JUNE 2018 President’s article by Scott Welsh


Be a Business Change Agent

125 years ago, when the Redlands Chamber of Commerce started as the Redlands Board of Trade, we were a radically different economy.  The burgeoning citrus industry brought wealth and opportunity to the area, and our town was at the epicenter.  The local Chamber members in those days were in charge of very important jobs like watering Orange and State, so horse and buggies would not create dust clouds.   Thank goodness for change.

In the ensuing years, we’ve seen enormous change.  Mostly good, some not so good.  We’ve changed from a mostly agro economy, to one that has embraced technology and thrives on our historical heritage.  I love this about Redlands.  We have remained respectful of our heritage while embracing the constant flow of change.  Without it, we would be just another ghost town.

This reminds us to take stock in our own “fruits”, and work on things we can change to help our businesses grow and adapt to a new world order.  Here are a few things to think about when embracing change:

  1. Learn how to Fail. Know anyone in business who has not failed?  Rare.  Successful entrepreneurs are always testing the boundaries of failure.  We have a gold star society that rewards participation.  Business is not so forgiving.  Failure can be good for you, but it requires risk. What happens when you don’t get what you want?  Experience. So, take a chance, try that new product, introduce that new menu item.  Expand your business. Try that new advertising method. Embrace digital.  The biggest failure in business?  Not showing up.
  2. Get out of your own way.  The biggest obstacle in growing your business many times is you.  Embracing change can be a potential blow to your ego. Get over that and approach change in a businesslike manner. If you spend your time dwelling on your failures, you will never be able to grow your win column. If a new direction or initiative is failing, get out, move on, don’t be emotional.  Failure is just a pothole on the road to success.  Embrace failure, and you are already successful.
  3. Baby Steps.  Begin with a plan and evaluate each step.  Take a small action toward your goal.  Break down your goal into small wins/losses.  Many times, small steps can help you adapt to wider change.  Need to embrace the digital world for your business? Begin with simple website, evaluate your customers’ needs/wants. Adapt your message to your customers. How will your website make them “feel”?  What do you want to happen?  Have a plan.
  4. Teach yourself.  What are you doing to develop within your industry? Do you attend trade shows, business networking, or engage in educational opportunities?  Do you come away from those events with actionable items and solid takeaways?  Have you identified the most successful businesses in your industry?  What are you doing to be like them or to beat them?  Successful entrepreneurs are always learning.