2011 Update

Life certainly hasn't been boring since I wrote my 2008 update to this article. This year, as I celebrate my 40th year as a self-employed individual working at home, I am more mindful than ever of the role CHANGE plays in my life.

Last year I withdrew from active involvement in the home business and crafts industries to focus on my book editing, critiquing, and consulting services for authors while also writing and publishing my first memoir about my musical life with a drummer named Harry.

In addition to all the new things I learned during the writing and publication of this book, the experience was life-changing in that it put many new people in my life, added a new dimension of excitement to my "golden years," and launched me on a new road of discovery as a writer who now realizes she is a storyteller with more books inside her just waiting to get out.

 

Is It Time for a Change?

by Barbara Brabec

As we settle into a favorite chair with a good book for a long evening's read, we may reposition ourselves several times before we're comfortable. Maybe the light isn't just right, or the pillow needs fluffing, or we can't quite reach our cup of tea. Subtle shifts are needed for maximum comfort.

Business is like that, too. Each year, as things around us change, or we change, we may find it necessary to make subtle shifts in the way we're doing business. Our prices may increase in response to market conditions or a change in the economy. Our marketing methods may change because of new technology or because the old ways aren't working anymore. Business or product names may change in response to industry changes or how customers and clients themselves are changing.

Most of us go to great lengths to resist change because it automatically takes us out of our comfort zone and makes extra work for us. A change of name, phone number, or pricing means we have to write new advertising copy for our brochure, catalog, or ads and explore new ways of reaching the larger market we've targeted. Suddenly we need a whole new series of printed materials or perhaps a presence on the Internet.

Changes Forced by Circumstances

As we grow older (and hopefully wiser), we are sometimes forced to make changes because we've received an important wakeup call, such as a serious illness or life-threatening disease that suddenly shows us what our real priorities in life are. Some years ago, a little dance with breast cancer cost me a lot of time, money, and energy due to surgery, follow-up doctor visits, and six weeks of daily radiation treatments. I was lucky the cancer was caught and halted in its earliest stage, but the experience woke me up to the fact that I was getting older and wasn't going to live forever. This turned out to be a positive life experience in that it forced me to take a closer look at my life and make some important changes in the way I was spending it and running my home-based business.

From time to time, we need to ask ourselves if we are living life the way we really want to, and when that life includes a business at home, the questions become all the more pointed. Change, though hard to make, brings its own rewards. Upgrading your business will enhance your professional image and this may prompt your customers or clients to respond differently, perhaps with bigger orders or more business. In the process of making necessary changes to my own business, I discovered another important benefit of change. Satisfaction with the changes I had made lowered my business stress as well as my blood pressure. Best of all, I found myself fired with ambition and energy to tackle new challenges.

The Pain and Benefits of Change

Making changes is always painful to one degree or another. When I decided to cease publication of my print newsletter in 1996 and gradually close down the book publishing and mail order end of my business, I went through an emotionally difficult and financially painful "withdrawal period." Suddenly, after fifteen years of speaking to a devoted following of readers through my newsletter, I no longer had an active network or a soapbox from which to deliver information, opinions, and advice. My income dropped dramatically, and I couldn't replace it quickly because I was then spending all my time writing new books that would not yield royalty income for more than a year. It was a difficult decision to make, but I'm so glad I did it. In time, I got back on track financially, and my work became less stressful because I was then doing the one thing I loved most and never had enough time to do before--writing 100 percent of the time. Once I got going on the Web, I had my soapbox back as well.

What's interesting to me about all this is that, although I've been a professional writer since 1971, it took me all those years to actually get to the place where I really wanted to be. And I couldn't have gotten there at all if I hadn't gone through all the growing pains and changes along the way. Each subtle shift in the way I worked or managed my business automatically repositioned me for something else that wouldn't have come my way if I hadn't moved in the first place.

Based on all the interviews I've done with other business owners through the years, I can guarantee that a similar kind of progression will happen to you. So don't get too comfortable where you are right now unless you are already exactly where you want to be for the rest of your life.

2008 Update

Make it Profitable, from which the above words have been taken, was published in 2000 just as I was developing this website. Anyone who has observed my personal life and business activities on the Web since then will realize that change has been my middle name in all the years since. I'm still experiencing growing pains as I try to stay up on the latest computer and Web technology and move forward in the world of electronic editing, publishing, consulting, and website management.

It's fascinating to me (if to no one else) to see how every change I've made in the past seven years--every new step taken into unfamiliar territory outside my comfort zone--has automatically repositioned me for something new that wouldn't have come my way if I hadn't moved in the first place. More important, perhaps, are all the new and interesting people who have crossed my path and become personal or business friends in the process. Without the excitement of constant change and always something new, life would be boring indeed.

See also related articles, Change is Part of the Picture and

The Need for Change as You and Your Business Grow Older

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