3 Secrets to unlocking the power of change for small businesses and nonprofits

The only constant in life is change — just ask any business or nonprofit leader that had to navigate the last year of pandemic chaos, forced shutdowns and changed consumer behaviors.

Senior female business owner turning open sign on door before opening boutique

Although the future is looking hopeful, thanks to mass vaccination and industries reopening, the pandemic is a reminder that change is always inevitable for small businesses —whether it’s new legislation, industry disruption, or new technologies.

And when large Fortune 500 firms need help navigating their workforce through change, they often turn to Cassandra Worthy —author, speaker, and self-proclaimed “change enthusiast." Recently, Cassandra joined the Voya Just Right Advantage ™ “Continuing the Conversation” podcast with podcast host, speaker, writer and influencer, Portia Scott; and change was the topic of discussion. Cassandra offered insight into how the pandemic impacted her business and how she eventually turned change into a driver of business growth and opportunity. Listen to their inspiring conversation.

Inspired by the chat, here are three actionable steps to help small businesses and nonprofits turn big disruptions into opportunity.

Process the change & innovate your way forward

Change, especially when it's sudden, can be difficult on an emotional level, even for those who specialize in helping companies navigate it. Cassandra Worthy explained the initial shock of the COVID-19 changes in the podcast: “I will tell you that for a span of about two or three weeks, the best that I could do was get up, go check my email, see what had been canceled, what had been rescheduled and then relocate to the couch and just binge Netflix.”  After processing the change, however, Worthy got back to business and found innovative ways to grow her business through the pandemic.

“I started just doing more videos on LinkedIn. I started reaching out to my network. For some prior clients, I would offer virtual engagement for free. And the more I did that, I began to book virtual engagements. I transformed my home studio into a virtual space, and I started to dig in and understand how can I bring what I used to do in person — my workshops, my keynotes — to the virtual space.” Because of her creative and innovative approach, she managed to double her revenue the previous year.

Cassandra’s process can offer inspirational lessons to nonprofits and small businesses. One of the first steps she took was to take time to process the change; and then she identified ways to evolve the crisis into an opportunity. This is important because change is often the catalyst for thinking outside the box, flexing your creative muscles, and reimagining the potential of your business or nonprofit. It may also shine a spotlight on things that weren't working as well, so you can rebuild in a smarter and more resilient way.

Get employees engaged and part of the solution

As an employer or a nonprofit with volunteers, you have access to mounds of untapped creative ideas and solutions. Tapping into the talent and diverse perspectives you already have within your organization is not only good for business, but it allows your employees to take ownership of the future direction of the company. To begin unlocking this reservoir of ideas and talent, make sure you address the situation with transparency and empathy while keeping the lines of communication open.

Discuss the big-picture reasons why the change is necessary, the potential challenges of any new policies and how working through it together will ultimately benefit all. Then you can ask for their suggestions and feedback on new policies and have brainstorming sessions about what they think might be the best ways to handle potential obstacles. Keeping the lines of communication open and allowing everyone to have a voice can help allay employee fears and give them real skin in the game.

Be flexible, follow through and follow up

Each employee should not only have a clear understanding of their specific action items and goals, but they should expect to be held accountable. This reinforces the necessity of the new strategies while highlighting the essential and meaningful role each individual has to play.

Of course, it's just as important to be agile during new rollouts because tweaks may be required along the way. Remember: It's OK to be flexible on the how and when parts of your change management plan, as long as everyone stays committed to what the goals are, and why they are part of the company vision.

Then, as changes are implemented and gradually embedded into the company culture, survey your employees to see how they are doing. Use their feedback to achieve continual improvement, recognize failures or mishaps and proactively expand upon new processes that are performing well.

For more tips on change management and how to embrace change enthusiasm, tune into the full podcast.

The “Continuing the Conversation” podcast is sponsored by Voya Financial's Just Right Advantage™ program. This first-of-its-kind program is aimed at supporting greater retirement planning opportunities for minority, women, veteran, disability and LGBTQ-owned businesses — along with nonprofit organizations that serve them. The program includes a fee credit to help encourage retirement readiness as well as ongoing education.



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Portia Scott and Portia Scott Media LLC., are not affiliated with the Voya family of companies. Portia Scott Media LLC., has received compensation from Voya for participation in educational programming, supporting Voya's Just Right Advantage program.

Cassandra Worthy is not affiliated with the Voya® family of companies.

Products and services offered through the Voya® family of companies.