The Need for Change
as You and Your Business Grow Older
Because you work at home, your business will always be affected by changes in your personal or family life, and you’ll need to keep revising your life and home business plans as you age and the world around you keeps changing.
REMEMBER THE MANY THINGS that have changed since you first started your business? How you continually had to make adjustments in the way you were working, promoting, and marketing your products or services to keep up with industry changes, new technology, and internet practices?
It’s one thing to make changes in your business to meet new demands in the marketplace or stay up on the latest technology; quite another to be forced to make changes because you’re simply getting older and can’t do now what you used to do in your younger years.
“A while back,” one of my subscribers wrote, “you told me 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 business on the Web.”
An artist offered this example of the kind of thinking and actions that are involved here:
“The primary issue 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, we’ve 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 they’re 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 don’t 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—or more often. Given how fast everything is changing in 2021 because of the coronavirus, technology, and our unstable economy, you may need to readjust both your business and personal plans several times a year.
How to Write a New Plan
I LIKE TO MAKE my plans on computer, but if you think more clearly by putting everything down on paper, you can always scan and save that information to the computer later. (You’ll need something to refer to the next time you have to update your plan.)
First, list the major changes you’ve already made to your business as you and it has aged and which ones have now become outdated.
Second, spell out the changes you anticipate being forced to make in the next year; then what you’ll have to do to implement those changes.
Third, consider and plan for what you’ll have to do to balance the effect these changes will have on your overall business and personal life. As you will quickly see, this is likely to involve a whole new way of thinking, working, managing, or marketing your business.
Finally, 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.
Five 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 or home schooling, 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 you’re older? Doing some online research 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 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 the current 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;
• 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 YOU’RE IN BUSINESS for the long haul, you cannot afford to take any of the above questions or suggestions lightly. We all need to stay on our toes if we want to successfully compete for business 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 the coronavirus’ impact on every aspect of our lives and America’s dire economic situation, but because of constantly changing technology and “life” itself. Sometimes I get tired just thinking about this, but I don’t let that stop me from making new plans for the future. 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
First published 2013; updated 2021.
Adapting to Changing Life and Business Circumstances. As you move into your ‘golden years’ as a home-business owner, you will need to make changes due to aging, life circumstances, new technology, and the marketplace that will take you out of your comfort zone. (This article continues the discussion begun above.)
I Already Did That! A New Year’s resolution that changed Barbara’s Life. Now is a good time to think about eliminating things that are causing you stress because you no longer want to do them.
Pruning Your Life to Encourage Growth. As we grow older, we need to think about ridding our lives of things that are stressing us, taking more time than we want to give them, or simply becoming a burdensome physical responsibility.
Will You Still be Working in Your Seventies? A story about retirement planning with the simple financial exercise that changed Barbara’s life and the way she was looking at her future and work itself. It might change your retirement outlook too.
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