The Need for Change as
You and Your Business
by Barbara Brabec
Posted January, 2013
IF YOU'VE BEEN IN BUSINESS FOR AWHILE, you can certainly remember the many
things that have changed since you first started your business, and how youíve
frequently had to adjust the way you were working, promoting, and marketing your products or
services to keep up with changing technology and Web practices.
Itís one thing to make changes in your business in order to meet new demands
in the marketplace or stay up on the latest technology; quite another to be
forced to make changes because youíre simply getting older and canít do now what
you used to do in your younger years.
"Awhile back," one of my subscribers wrote, "you told me that there would
come a time in our lives when my husband and I would not want to work so hard
and would thus need to think of other ways to create our products or find
something less labor-intensive to do. That statement was the single most
important piece of advice that I have received from anyone concerning our
business. It got me to actively thinking about what I could do to keep our
business going as my husband and I age. Since then, we have come up with several
new ideas, and I have learned many new things that have made a big difference in
the operation of our Web business."
An artist offers an example of the kind of thinking and actions that are
"The primary issues all of us discuss as we age is our growing lack of desire
to haul our stuff to shows. Quite frankly, our bodies can't handle the packing
and hauling and long days on our feet, and with smaller attendances at many
shows, weíve become more selective in where we go and how we do things. A couple
of us are attending new shows as spectators to see what theyíre like—how they
are attended, to see if they are worth getting involved—and then we report back
to one another. For an out-of-state show, two or three of us might carpool, share
gas/tolls, discuss our impressions. We gain insights from one another, scope the
locations for shops and galleries that might be options to carry our work, etc.
We increase our presence on the Internet, if only to provide a place for easy
viewing of our work and contact information.
"Your advice to "go with the flow" is something we must all do, and the constant search for
new venues and options is important. Ultimately the decision becomes 'Do I want
to?' The work (referring mostly here to the shows) gets harder as we age, and
sometimes we simply don't have the physical capacity to expend energy the way we
once did. 'Work smarter, not harder' is a saying drummed into our heads a decade
ago; and nowadays we seem to be working simply to survive. We need to identify
trends, discover and implement new marketing techniques, and so on. Often the
old formulas don't work in today's environment. Things keep changing, and so
must we, without losing the integrity of our work. It's a tricky dance."
Tricky, indeed! And all the more difficult if you donít have a plan in place
for how to gradually make the changes that will ultimately be necessary as you
age another five or ten years. Just "playing it by ear" and waiting to see how
you feel farther down the road may not be the wisest option. Like everything
else related to business, this problem is best addressed with a written plan
that can be adjusted each year. (Forget about making five-year plans, which no
longer work due to the speed at which technology is changing our personal and
Begin by jotting down the major changes youíve already made to your business
as you and it has aged. Then consider what changes you anticipate being forced
to make in the next one to five years. Consider what youíll have to do to
implement those changes, and then what youíll have to do to balance the effect
these changes will have on your overall business and personal life. This may
involve a whole new way of thinking, working, managing, or marketing your
Remember that as you age, the been-there-done-that feelings will grow
stronger. No matter how much you may love the work you do, boredom will set in
if you keep doing the same things the same way. The following questions will help you get
your thinking process
Six Important Questions to Ask Yourself
1. What will you do if/when your physical strength or general health declines, or
if other situations (such as care giving, perhaps), demand more of your time and
energy, making business management difficult or impossible?
2. What other changes in your personal life might affect your business
down the road, such
as a change due to divorce, death of a spouse or business partner, a
geographical move, a complicated family situation, or job loss if your home
business happens to be a part-time venture?
3. Have you thought about how you might diversify your present business to
make it easier to make money and work smarter with less hands-on work when youíre older? Doing research on the Web
will give you ideas for
how others in your industry are adding new products or services or using
technology in a different way to advance their businesses. Consider that you may
acquire new skills to do some of these things.
4. Are you tapping into the new technology that could help you work
smarter and more profitably in the future? Study how your particular industry is
changing, and the impact these changes might have on your business. Will they
open or close doors of opportunity, force you to market in a different way, or
acquire new skills to remain competitive?
5. What new products could you develop that would be easier to produce or
sell? Or is there a service you could offer that might replace the
labor-intensive work or other tiresome "business chores" you may be doing?
Tips for Business Survival
in a "Down Economy"
Given my perspective as a self-employed individual with decades of life and
business experience behind me, I can tell you that, regardless of the industry
in which you work, your financial success in today's economy will likely depend
on these things:
Being savvy about
the changing times and adjusting to them as necessary (what I've always
thought of as "going with the flow");
Learning how to use new software, electronic gadgets, and computer
technology to increase your productivity and advance your business;
Having a good-looking website that is easily navigated and optimized for
the search engines (see
my tips on this topic);
Charging fair prices and giving your customers or
clients personal attention and better service than your competitors;
Offering a guarantee of satisfaction or money back.
If youíre in business for the long haul, you cannot afford to take any of the
above questions or suggestions lightly. Given the
now-unbelievable size of our government's debt, I have little hope that the economy is
going to improve in the foreseeable future, so we all need to stay on
our toes if we want to successfully compete for business on the Web and outlast
As an aging self-employed individual and widow, it has been hard for me to
accept the fact that nothing will ever again be the way it used to be, and
worse, nothing in the future is going to be as good as it may be now. From here
on in, all of us are going to have to keep learning and making adjustments in
the way we live and work, not only because of America's dire economic situation,
but because of constantly changing technology. Sometimes I get tired just
thinking about this, but I don't let that stop me. I hope you won't let it stop
"Change is the law of life. And those who look only
to the past or present are certain to miss the future." - John F. Kennedy
PART TWO of this article,
"Adapting to Changing Life and Business Circumstances,"
continues on the next page.
[Back to Top}