Because you work at home, your business will always be affected by changes in your personal or family life. When you add aging, changing technology, market conditions, and the economy to the picture, you can quickly see thereís a lot to think about if youíre in business for the long haul.

 

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Change is Part of the Picture. Everything in life, including business, is connected to something else, and whenever one thing changes, a lot of other things change, too. (An excerpt from Homemade Money.)

Is It Time for a Change?

Doing Business in a Recession. Now is a great time to move forward with new ideas, a time to try new things youíve never considered before, and a time to create new products and services that will meet the specific needs of todayís hurting consumers and businesses.

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by Barbara Brabec
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The Need for Change as
You and Your Business
Grow Older

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 involved here:

"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 business lives.)

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 business.

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 started.

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 need to 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.

Closing Thoughts

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 our competition.

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 you either.

"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. 
 

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