Change management for small business ecommerce: How to prepare your team for change
If you keep up with the news, you’ve heard about online revenue on the biggest shopping days of the year. Many businesses are actively moving or expanding online to grow the business.
Before digital commerce rose to dominance, it was easy to make comparisons between ecommerce platforms. Small business ecommerce was just that, a vehicle for comparing the different ways to get online.
As ecommerce has grown, so have the needs of small businesses considering the move online. Every mom and pop shop is thinking about it, and many have business processes that go back years, if not decades. At the same time, new time-saving technologies have come and gone. Many companies have put these systems into place piecemeal, forming another layer of habits for day-to-day business.
Important conversations like the right launch date, employee motivation, and change management can feel more philosophical than practical for a small business team. That said, the foundation you can build from those conversations is important. Let’s talk about them one at a time.
What to sell online
This seems like a big question, but the answer is pretty simple. Moving online may mean selling the products you already offer in your local storefront. If you run a services business, you may have some challenges figuring out what to sell initially, but there are a ton of great ideas to explore.
It is easy to get mired in the logistics of this decision and forget the most important part of this change. You want to take care of the people who work for you, and the customers who support your business.
When to Launch
It’s understood that there are times of year that most businesses are hiring and other times of the year it’s tough to even get an interview. Most businesses choose to align their fiscal year with the calendar year. These peak times are also when many small businesses decide to make a big change.
Business change often operates in cycles. January and February are up, with strong possibilities through May. September and October are also popular.
As you begin the move toward this change, think about major projects for each department, during each quarter of the year. Choose a time window that will put the least amount of strain on your limited resources.
How to get back into selling
I see you sitting there thinking, “We’ve been selling this whole time!” and that’s true. But it’s important to feel like you’re starting from scratch, even if you’re expanding what your business already does.
You need to build excitement to be an effective seller. Even if you are super enthusiastic about the next phase of your business, your team may have concerns that will affect their motivation.
Humans respond positively to novelty, so you’ll want to make this project feel like more than an expansion of what you already do. Even when overwhelmed, the human brain will still subconsciously seek new and interesting information. When you see something new, it kicks up your motivation. But this only happens when you see something you’ve never seen before.
If you or your team is having a hard time building the big energy you need for your online launch, consider bringing in someone new to consult with on the project. Another great idea to try? Lead some strategy sessions in a new location off-site.
How to change old habits
As much as we enjoy the shock of the new, most people are resistant to change. This resistance may not come into every facet of life, but our habits are powerful. Many people carry their habits to work. We may not notice the ways our habits are affecting our team or new initiatives for the larger business as a whole.
Being aware of our habits makes those habits easier to control. So, if you are a leader in your business pushing to move online, you’ll also need to help your employees identify their habits. Try to pinpoint the habits of your team members who may be resistant to this change.
To begin the process, talk through the ways that adding online sales could change the way your business runs. Look at these processes from the perspective of each department and each role. This article can help identify some important places to start. From there you can begin to work with members of your team on training and business changes that can smooth transition.
Get out of your own way
Your small business is precious to you and it’s an incredible time to grow a business online. The process won’t be without challenges but the potential for increased revenue and flexibility could make it worth it.
I have so many projects in the air each day it’s hard to imagine adding one more to the list. It’s understandable to be wary and thoughtful as you mull this decision, but don’t let fear stop you.
I’ve done the research, and the benefits far outweigh the risks. Moving a business online is mostly a matter of time and motivation. If you have it in you, start these conversations today.
Jana Rumberger is a writer and content manager for Selz ecommerce. She has expertise in strategy, selling products online, and small business solutions. Jana combines diverse experience in education, creativity, and manufacturing to craft engaging content.
In addition to her writing, she is an active visual artist and foodie in Portland, Oregon.