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Successful businesses look for, embrace change

September 04, 2012

When life begins to run out of “cheese”, do you stay put? Or go searching for the next “cheese” source? James Leavelle shares useful advice for business owners to help them accept and adapt to the many changes life can throw our way.

By James Leavelle 


SAN ANGELO, Texas — Change is a fact of life. It is inevitable. Every day presents new opportunities for change. The question that each of us must deal with is, do we recognize it when we see it? Are we even looking for it?

Spencer Johnson has written a great little book that exemplifies how many people face change. The book is called, “Who Moved My Cheese?” Johnson’s main characters are two mice (named Sniff and Scurry) and two little people (named Hem and Haw).

In the story, the maze represents life and there are food supplies of cheese at certain locations. Sniff and Scurry are always on the move looking for cheese, but Hem and Haw find a large source and begin to live near the cheese.

One day, they discover their supply of cheese is gone, hence the title of the book. What they took as a never-ending supply of cheese is gone. Haw goes looking for it, while Hem stays put hoping it will come back. For Haw, it is a big step to leave his comfort zone and look for a new source of cheese. But, he manages to build the courage and eventually finds a new source of cheese, learning much along the way.

Business owners must be more like Sniff and Scurry — always looking for change, “sniffing” it out, so to speak. If you sit around content in the status quo, you may find yourself surprised by change and playing catchup.

I recently met an owner who had been in business for a number of years. It was refreshing to hear how he has constantly been looking for change over the years. He managed to stay in tune to what was happening in his industry and in his market area. As change approached, he “sniffed” it out and adapted to it. He didn’t “hem-haw” around until it was too late. Mr. Businessman came to the Small Business Development Center because he was sniffing out another opportunity to change his business model and wanted some ideas on how to market his new model.

For businesses, change occurs in a number of ways. New government regulations may affect a business’s profitability by imposing new compliance regulations through various agencies. New technology may render a business obsolete if they fail to adapt or incorporate the new technology to their business model.

New competition, or old competition that has improved their model, is a market change that businesses can’t afford to overlook or ignore.

Change is coming! Are you sniffing it out, or scurrying about to find it before it arrives? Or, are you going to hem-haw around and hope it doesn’t affect you? Successful businesses look for it and in many cases, embrace it. That is much easier than trying to play catchup. Businesses that try to play catchup, either because they missed the change that came or ignored it, often times fail because the challenge to catch up was too great. I hope you are looking for change!

“Business Tips” was written by James Leavelle, Business Development Specialist of Angelo State University’s Small Business Development Center. Contact him

© 2012 San Angelo Standard Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. 



James Leavelle

  • James Leavelle

    James Leavelle

    Business Development Specialist

    James joined the SBDC in November 2011 as a Business Development Specialist.  He earned his undergraduate degree in Business Management from the University of Phoenix and completed his MBA from Angelo State University in December 2011. After a career in the United States Air Force, James has owned and managed a floorcovering business.  Additionally, he has been a store manager and a multi-unit manager in the convenience store industry.  He further utilized that retail management experience training store management and staff for a large convenience store chain.   While his career has led him to multiple parts of the world, San Angelo has become home for him and his family.