One thing for sure in todays economy is that “business as usual” isn’t an option. Implementing change is never easy but if you’re operating in the Northern Territory its probably never been so important. As a business leader change must start with you but what do you change?

One approach I’ve found helpful is to ask yourself what’s stopping you from doing things differently. What are your shackles (things that are holding you back) and what are your shields (things you’re hiding behind)?

But before you think about these, consider for a moment what hasn’t changed:

It’s never been easy to run a successful business, because if it was, everyone would be doing it. Success requires continuous adaptation and learning and never being complacent. It starts with personal development and being open to new ideas that you can adopt in anticipation or response to a continuously changing environment. This is more important now than ever.

Ways of doing business are always changing. What worked in the past will not necessarily work in the future. Modern business practices, customer expectations and their buying habits are different from just five years ago and will be even more different in five years’ time. The pace of change is accelerating and everyone who wishes to stay in business must keep up with that change.

Competition has always been tough and it will continue to get tougher. Being in business is about survival of the fittest and although you don’t have to be the fittest to survive (just fitter than the most unfit), if you want to thrive you have to be fitter than most. Being fit is a choice, it is very similar to being an athlete in that the smarter and harder you train, the more competitors you will beat. If you don’t train you will be easy prey to those who do.

So, what about your shackles and shields? – identifying them could be an opportunity to train smarter, not harder.
Shackles are things that restrain you from achieving your potential. They could be external or internal. They could be something you have always held to be true such as how you view your own business (“we don’t have the resources/ experience to do this”) or your customers (“they would never place that order with us”) or your staff (“they just don’t have the skills or right attitude”). Such beliefs can restrict your ability to grow and shackle you to your past.

Shields are things you hide behind and prevent you from connecting with your true potential. For example, “I’m not a delegator” or I’m not good at sales” or “I don’t learn new stuff easily” or “Asking for help is a weakness”

Are you aware of what your shackle and shields are? Everyone has them so if you can’t identify them try asking a few trusted colleagues then ask yourself: “If I dropped the shield and cut off the shackle – no matter how hard – what opportunities would I have to grow for the benefit of myself my business, my staff and my customers?

If you want to succeed in todays business environment you should start looking at your business model, the way you generate sales, the way you deliver your services, the way you treat your customers, the way you manage your people, the way you manage your finances and most importantly the way you look at yourself. It all starts with you.