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 general 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? 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.
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This article continues the discussion begun in
Adapting to Changing Life and Business Circumstances
AS A CASE IN POINT, I offer my own experience in the kind of changes I've had to make in recent years as a professional writer, editor, and self-publisher on the Web. The steps I had to take in response to changing life circumstances, the marketplace, and changes within my industry offer ideas on what other service providers need to consider.
Health Issues. When my husband's health and physical strength began to decline and he could no longer help me with the our book-selling business, I first hired a fulfillment center to ship book orders for awhile. Later, I had to completely close the mail order division because I couldn't put out bulk mailings and do all the order processing and mail list maintenance work on top of my new responsibilities as a care giver. Then I had to figure out how to make up for this lost income, as well as that which I lost later on when I had to cease speaking professionally because I needed to be at home all the time.
Death of Spouse and Business Partner. After my husband died in 2005, like all widows I had to look at my life and work in a totally new light. I knew I had to keep working if I wanted to stay in my home, but exactly what to do was the question, because by then, the "been there, done that" feelings were quite intense. I spent much of that year making adjustments in my personal life while also maintaining my website and fulfilling regular business commitments.
Changing Technology and New Options. The following year, I began yet another intense period of self-study and exploration as I tried to figure out what I needed to learn and do to start publishing electronically. I also learned how to build new websites from scratch and do a better job of optimizing my website to attract more visitors to specific service pages. At that time I was working on my second manuscript critiquing and editing job for a client who would ultimately change my life and propel me forward in exciting new directions. (Never underestimate the importance of new people in your life. Working with just one new client or customer can prompt many ideas and open new doors of discovery.)
Finding a New Niche. As the self-publishing industry began to heat up due to the ease of POD publishing and I got a steady stream of editing and manuscript critiquing jobs, I began to see that I was filling a special niche in my industry by focusing on helping authors self-publish. In my continuing lifelong study of the publishing industry—and seeing how the book publishing world at large was changing—I then began to plan for how I could tap into the growing market for Kindle eBooks. Never cease looking for niche markets that you might fill.
Changing Focus. By 2003, I was extremely tired of writing only about business. I was wishing I could spend my time writing about things other than home business, but that kind of writing wasn't of interest to my publisher, so I was forced to stick with the topics I'd always written about: arts and crafts and homebased businesses in general.
It took me a long time, but I finally "broke out of the mold" in 2010 when I self-published my first non-business book, a print-on-demand (POD) memoir, the writing of which changed my life and propelled me into the world of eBook publishing. By the end of 2012, I had acquired the necessary skills needed for success not only as an eBook author and self-publisher, but as a service provider and consultant to those who wanted to publish eBooks as well.
By always paying attention to how everything around me was changing—and continuing my lifelong habit of self-study—Iíve empowered myself to be at the top of my game as I move into my "golden years" as a writer at the same time the self-publishing industry is in its own new "golden age of self-publishing." The curious thing here is that I'm still doing the same basic things I've done throughout my home-business life (writing, publishing, teaching), but doing them in entirely new ways.
Understand that the changes Iíve had to make throughout the life of my business were never easy for me, and most of them took me way outside my comfort zone . . . but all were necessary if I wanted to survive and profit from my work on the Web. Iíve never stopped practicing what Iíve always preached in my home-business writing:
Remain flexible . . . go with the flow.
Given all the computer and Internet technology I've been able to learn past the age of sixty, I hope I'm an inspiration to others who say they're too old to learn new technology. You're never—repeat NEVER—too old to learn; you just have to have a REASON to keep learning. In my case, I not only had a financial need but also a reputation to maintain. At the turn of the century when I had long been a leader in the home-business field—a so-called "expert"—I felt I was too old to deal with the Internet and changing computer technology and just wanted to throw in the towel. But my ego simply wouldn't let me just fade away like an old soldier for lack of that kind of expertise, and the rest is history I've documented in various articles in the Computer talk department.
I plan to keep learning as long as I live, and I will continue to pass on to others new lessons I'm learning about life, self-employment, business, technology, and working on the Web. Join my BRABEC BULLETIN mailing list if you'd like to learn along with me.