Step 1 – Prepare your business for change

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Change in the world around your business can happen quickly and without warning. It can be time-consuming and expensive to adapt your operations once you realise your business is no longer meeting the needs of your customers and has fallen behind your competitors. That's why it's critical to prepare for, understand and know how to manage change.

Start by understanding where you are today – both for yourself personally as a business owner, and for your business. You'll be better prepared to adapt your business in the smartest possible way if you clearly understand how you and your business operate right now.

This step will help you understand:

  • the role you play in your business
  • how to better understand your business operations.

Introduction to change


Always look for ways to adjust and develop your business in response to change.

When the external environment around your business changes, you'll need to adapt the internal elements of your business as well. These elements make up your business model.

If you can successfully respond to these external trends with internal changes, you will create value for your customers, and in turn for your business and yourself.

The 2 main forces that affect change are:

  • external factors, like an economic downturn, new competition and changing customer demand
  • internal factors, such as staff development, systems and processes.

Change can also be:

  • proactive, where you make the decision to change something you can control, such as your products and services
  • reactive, where you are forced to respond to something unforeseen, such as a new regulation in your industry.

To best manage change in your business, you must feel confident to make decisions during uncertainty.

This means taking control of the things you can change (internal factors) and accepting there will be things you can't change (external factors).

Planning ahead and researching trends can help you to control how change affects your business.

Why your business might need to change

Changes in the world around you can affect many areas of your business. Consider what your business would do in these scenarios.

A global pandemic has hit, and your business storefront needs to close temporarily. Your customers can't access your products and services.

  • How can you make sure your customers can still access your products and services?
  • How can you retrain and redeploy your staff so they can still support you, and you don't have to let anyone go?
  • Can you develop new products and services to meet changing needs and demands of your customers?

Your customers are increasingly conscious of the environmental impacts of what they buy. You notice new, successful competitors emerging that focus on providing sustainable products and services.

  • How can you make sure your products are meeting the expectations of your customers?
  • Are there other areas of your business you can adapt to introduce sustainable practices (e.g. lowering your water and power usage, or managing your levels of waste)?
  • How can you better promote the benefits of your products to your customers?
  • Do all of your customer segments have the same values, needs and expectations?

Your key customer group is university students, but you find out the local campus is closing. Without the university nearby, it's unlikely your regular customers will need to visit your local area anymore.

  • What other customer groups live in or visit your local area?
  • Will these other customer groups have a need for your products?
  • How can you shift your products and services to appeal to new customer groups?
  • How will you need to change your communication channels to access different customer groups?
  • How can you find out what the university site will be used for next? Is there potential to start developing new products and services for a new market that might use the site's planned facilities?

Prepare yourself for change

Preparing yourself as a business owner or leader is just as important as preparing your team or preparing your business. You must have a pro-change attitude to succeed.

Make the change personal and focus on yourself first. Consider why you're in business, and where you want to go as you work through your change journey. Work out what skills you have and the personal values you bring to your business – this will help you to work out what’s missing and what to focus on.

Video - Prepare yourself for change

Do you have the mindset to accept change?

Make sure you're ready as a business owner before you start working to change your business.

Watch our video to learn how to complete the personal business model canvas and find out the value you bring to your business.

Complete your personal business model canvas

The personal business model canvas will help you:

  • understand the skills and values you bring to your business
  • determine your personal goals in a simple and structured way.

Download the personal business model canvas template.

This tool is adapted from and licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0).

Prepare your team

Once you're clear on your personal objectives, plan how you're going to prepare your team for change.

Your team could find change to be confronting and intimidating, or exciting and rewarding. It's important to communicate and work together to effectively manage changes as a team.

A positive attitude towards change from you and your team will make your business more resilient and give you a greater chance of success.

To do this, start by explaining:

  • the reasons for the change
  • the benefits or aim of the change
  • how you expect the change process to work
  • what you want to achieve.
Storytelling canvas

Complete your storytelling canvas

The storytelling canvas will help you:

  • prepare your team for change
  • construct a story to share knowledge and information that your team can understand and care about
  • design your change story in your own time, or collectively with your team, using visual and engaging elements.

Download the storytelling canvas to fill out and save for future reference:

This tool was created by Business Models Inc in the book Design a Better Business (Van Der Pijl, P., Lokitz, J., Solomon, L., Van der Pluijm, E., & Van Lieshout, M. (2016). Wiley.).

Prepare your business


Prepare your business for change by using the business model canvas. The canvas is a popular tool used by businesses of all sizes around the world and will demonstrate how your business works, and how it might be impacted by change.

Video - Prepare your business

Before you start making changes in your business, make sure you know:

  • how your business currently works
  • what changes might be needed
  • how these changes might impact other areas of your business.

Watch our video to learn how the business model canvas can help you explore how your business operates.

Business model canvas

Complete your own business model canvas

The business model canvas is a template with 9 interconnecting sections that describes how your business works. It captures who your customers are, how you provide products or services and how you create income.

Use the canvas to learn about:

  • the customers you serve
  • what products and services (value propositions) are offered through what channels
  • how your business makes money.

You can use the business model canvas to understand your own business model or one of a competitor.

Download the print-optimised versions of the business model canvas to fill out and save for future reference:

You can also use our interactive business model canvas.

This tool was created by Alexander Osterwalder and published in the book Business Model Generation (Osterwalder, A., & Pigneur, Y. (2010). John Wiley & Sons.).

What's next

Once you've completed your business model canvas to show how your business runs today (and your own personal business model canvas) you can better understand how your business can change.

In step 2 we'll explore how you want your business to develop, how change might impact your operations, and how you can respond to change now and in the future. This process is called business model innovation.

You'll be invited to return to your original business model canvas to review how the changes you're planning might affect other segments on your canvas.

  • What might need to change in your business model over the next 1, 3 or 5 years?
  • What improvements could you make to each of your business model segments?
  • Are there elements in your business model that are making change difficult?
  • Can you decrease costs by bringing on a key supplier or partner?
  • Can you add new channels to access different customer segments?

Think through each segment to identify where you can innovate and create a stronger and more resilient business. In the next step, you'll learn how to make sure your business model innovation has the highest chance of success.

Before you consider making changes to your business, make sure it's operating efficiently.

Take our business health check to find your business's strengths and areas for improvement.

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