I recently met other women business owners who are going through 'changes' professionally and personally too. Most described feeling overwhelmed and frozen by fears because of these 'changes.' Reflectively, I recall what a counselor told me several years ago, "The only thing constant in life is change." I also recall an interview with Rebecca Cenni.Rebecca Cenni is a prominent woman entrepreneur and the founder of Atrium Staffing in New York City. Rebecca started Atrium in 1995 with nothing more than her phone and notepad. She has built Atrium to a nationwide 0+ million staffing firm with eight offices throughout North America. Atrium, a WBENC-certified firm, now ranks among the top ten largest diversity-staffing firms in the United States.
Our interview focus was to discuss how a strong management team adds value to a business under investment consideration by Angel Investors or Venture Capitalists. The predominant theme, however, evolved to 'change.' Rebecca revealed how embracing 'change' had a positive impact for her and Atrium Staffing. The following is excerpts from our interview about 'change,' fears and entrepreneurship.
"I started my business at the age of 24 with the goal of doing solely administrative support. I knew the values that I wanted this business to be built upon were my own personal values. At the very core of these is respect for all people," begins Rebecca.
"While Atrium had enjoyed great success and seen steady growth in its early years, I knew there was still so much potential to grow the business. However, as is often the case for entrepreneurs, so much of the business was tied up around me. The challenge was how to scale the business while maintaining our differentiators and staying true to the fundamental values that the business was built upon. I was still knee-deep in the day to day operational activities but with an increasing number of strategic decisions to be made. My personal fear of losing control, together with my fear that delegating would result in loss of the company's identity, meant that while I had been the engine behind the company's success I was potentially road blocking its enormous growth opportunity," she explains.
Rebecca's insights parallel what research shows and what many women entrepreneurs, including myself, experience. Change, either intentional or not, can lead to fear that results in blocking success. One key element to overcome fear is, as Shakespeare says, 'To thine own self be true." Remain true to yourself and your company's mission will lead to the highway of success.
Rebecca continues, "To echo the sentiments of authors like Spencer Johnson ('Who Moved My Cheese') and others, the greatest advice I would give to budding entrepreneurs is to embrace change. In business, as in life, the only thing constant is change...Accepting at the beginning of your journey that you will probably not end up taking the pre-planned route means you will be able to adapt quicker to sharp turns in the road. An open mind opens more doors of opportunity. Not being afraid of change has allowed me to grow my business to what it is today. Had I been so blindly focused on the initial goal, I would not have seen the opportunities that sprung up on other roads."
Although we may resist change, often it can lead us in the direction we were actually meant to go. In my career, I have at times been paralyzed by the fear of change... embracing change as a good thing allows you to be mentally armed to face any bump on the road and deal with it proactively. For anyone starting, (or running), a business - especially in this economic climate - standing still is not an option; being open to change is an essential tool for success," concluded Rebecca.
Change can be scary. Frozen in fear because of 'change' is even worse. As life and my business evolve, I seek to embrace the 'changes.' By being open to new opportunities and ideas; keeping myself true to purpose and my company true to intent; and not fearing operating outside of the original business plan, I am optimistic about the future and the 'changes.'