Recently, I had an interesting exchange with someone in a business-related group I belong to.
This young man, a self-described GenXer, was stymied because he feels like he’s playing catchup all the time with technology, and it’s hindering his efforts to start a location-independent business.
As a baby boomer, I had to laugh. But then I started thinking about it. . .
I know quite a few people who feel there best years are behind them. Sadly, some of them are in their 20s!
I’m a baby boomer, entitled to retire (according to the Social Security Administration) last year. Do I feel like I’m behind the technology curve sometimes? Absolutely! Until I hear someone in my kids’ generation saying the same thing. . . and then a recent college grad. . .
You get the idea.
I’m sure we’ve all heard the stories about people who started something when they were past retirement age, and achieved phenomenal success. Colonel Sanders and Kentucky Fried Chicken, Grandma Moses and her paintings. . . well, maybe they were outliers once, but not so much today.
Starting at the age of 58, I’ve reinvented my professional self several times. My latest effort is a podcast. It involved a learning curve that included technology, navigating a new medium (the spoken word instead of the written one), and learning how all the pieces fit together and flow. So I really don’t have a lot of patience with someone who puts off making a change — especially one they say they want — because of age.
At its heart, a business is simply an organized set of transactions where you provide something of value to an audience who’s willing to buy it. That “something” can be a physical product, a service, a digital product, or information.
It can be practical (groceries, hammers) or aesthetic (art, music, poetry).
The details of how you get the attention of your audience and handle the transaction are just that, details. They can be learned whether you’re 25 or 75.
The hard part isn’t those details, although it is important to get them figured out.
The hard part is figuring out what you can sell, and who will buy it, and then coming up with a strategy to get the right message in front of the right people.
In its simplest terms, you’re in business when you:
- Help somebody solve a problem
- Get paid for it
In different ways, a grocery store, a restaurant, and an online cooking instructor all solve the problem of “I need to eat.”
A hardware store solves the problem of decorating your home by selling you a drill to make a hole to pound in a nail to hang the picture that makes you happy.
To Start, Figure Out These 3 Pieces of the Puzzle
Your three most important tasks, in order to start a new business, are to figure out:
- Who you want to help, aka your audience
- How you want to help them, aka your product or service
- How you’ll get paid for doing so
Yes, it’s simple, although I’m not saying it’s easy. . .
Once you’ve figured out your audience and your product/service, there are plenty of well blazed trails to follow.
That’s when the technology part comes in, especially if your business needs to be location-independent.
The good news is, even old dogs like me can learn new tricks, and so can you.
This article was updated on October 14, 2020.