Challenges are inevitable in the business world. But for Generation X business owners in today's world, certain challenges stand out a little more than others:
While Millennials are in the beginnings of their careers excited and fueled by the novelty of it all, and Baby Boomers are reaping the rewards of retirement, Generation Xers are somewhat caught in the middle. Some Generation X Business Owners may have businesses that are mostly stable or are chronically under-performing, but may lack the motivation to switch gears, lulled by the comfort of familiar habits and feeling bound by the environment and their multiple responsibilities.
However, people can learn, grow, and change at any age or stage. Instead of envying the energy of youth or yearning for a distant retirement, Gen Xers can take advantage of their current opportunities to evolve themselves and their businesses.
Navigating Changing Platforms
The technological revolution has revolutionized everything, including the way people buy and sell and learn and live. New platforms, apps, and models have changed the very nature of how people do business. Successful entrepreneurs often travel the world in their hoodies, using far-reaching social media platforms and their knowledge of technology and programming to reach out and sell directly to their target audience.
Needless to say, it's a very different way of doing business than what business owners were used to previously. Instead of despairing, however, Gen Xers have the opportunity to take advantage of the volatility of new communication and business standards to reinvent themselves and their companies. Opportunities, after all, are not only for the young--they are for anyone ready and willing to seize them.
While it is almost always helpful to retain loyal customers, a healthy business in today's economy must not place all its eggs into one basket. In today's increasingly globalized and connected world, the key to making sure your business survives and thrives is to diversify your client base.
Diversity can mean a variety of things: reaching out to different age groups, translating your advertising and content into multiple languages, offering variations on your products and services to appeal to more than one cohort, etc. The point is not to generate more than half of your business income from the same group of clients for an extended period of time.
Every business sinks or swims by the quality of its staff. Business owners want loyal, hard working employees who are also innovative and creative. Long-term employees may cost more, but they also offer stability and loyalty and an intrinsic knowledge of how your business works. Newer, younger hires may be more demanding, but they bring fresh perspectives, energy, and creativity to help your business grow and evolve with changing times. The key is to have a good mixture of both--the experienced employees can teach new hires how to thrive within the existing business culture, and the new employees can infuse old hands with fresh motivation and insight.
Hiring itself is also a changing process, with more freelance workers and staffing agencies growing in number and influence. Moreover, different skills are required to address modern market needs. Should you hire an experienced but temporary freelance worker who is highly knowledgeable about his field of expertise but not your particular company? Or should you go with a young graduate with a lot of potential but little experience, whom you will have to change but who may stay and provide value to your company for years to come? All of these questions can prove challenging for Gen X business owners, and depends on your overall vision for the business.
As a business owner, you will always face challenges in an ever-changing business world. But remember that all of your competitors are facing the same challenges. The key is to keep calm and rise up to the challenges as they come. After all, for the right-minded business owner, challenges are merely opportunities in disguise.