The Christmas season is a time of welcoming. We see friends and family that we have not seen for a long time and we are either welcomed into their homes or we welcome them into our homes. We celebrate the end of the old year and we welcome in the New Year with the expectant hope of good things to come. And in the Christian tradition, Christmas is a time of welcoming the new life that the Christ-child brings.
In spite of the fact that we often hear the word welcome, not all welcomes are equal. When the welcome is genuine we are left feeling truly valued and accepted. It is as if our very presence has enriched the life of the person who has welcomed us. They give us their full attention, they joyfully embrace the demands of our time and presence and we are invited to participate in their life. We take from our visit with them warm and happy memories. Contrast that to the welcome we receive when we arrive in a shop where the tired retailer is about to close after a long day. We might be told that we are welcome, but it is clear that the sooner we have done and said what we need to do and say and have left the shop the better it will be for them.
The New Year typically starts with a flurry of articles and conversations about setting goals, business planning and resolutions. In the midst of all of this I would like to encourage you to commit to make a habit of warmly welcoming the unplanned things that affect your business regardless of whether they are a threat or an opportunity. As they arise stop and give them your full attention. Give yourself space to think about why they have occurred and what the impact of them might be. Don’t let them become business as usual without learning from them and using them to enrich your standing the market-place.
Perhaps some new technology, a competitor, or a new product is threatening your income stream. Or maybe a key staff member has resigned and with them will go a wealth of knowledge that no one else in the business has. Or a supplier has decided to increase prices or cease supplying you with a key product. Rather than ignore or fight what is happening, welcome the threat, stop and reflect on why it has arisen and use these lessons to help you reconfigure your business so that your product or service offering better meets your customers’ needs.
Similarly, perhaps an opportunity has presented itself that will help you reduce your costs or improve your income. While joyfully incorporating this into your business, take time to stop and think about how this arose and what you can do to improve the prospects of more lucrative opportunities opening up in the future. Think about what you can do now to structure your business so that you can quickly grasp and capitalise on opportunities as they present themselves. Finally, consider how you can limit your competitors’ ability to benefit from the same opportunities.
Make the commitment to set aside time to purposefully and positively embrace the challenges, threats and opportunities that have an impact on your business. By welcoming them you are choosing to learn from them and incorporate them into the platform that you are building for sustainable business success.