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Starting a business in middle age?Plan carefully and adjust quickly

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To Leslie Hunter-Gadsden Next Avenue

Let’s face it. No matter how well an entrepreneur’s business plan is thought out, during his first 12-24 months of a new business, unexpected things happen.

Startup owners must be able to pivot or fine-tune their business to withstand changes in the market and customer base. Most importantly, small to medium-sized startup entrepreneurs have to be strategic in changing plans so that they can make the most of their limited resources.

Regarding the services companies provide to their clients, said Kimberly A. Eddleston, Schulz Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship at Northeastern University’s Damore McKim School of Business in Boston. On what you make money, you keep it. ”

Eddleston, a Next Avenue funder and senior editor at EIX, Entrepreneur and Innovation Exchange, said: It’s a strategic decision about what brings people to the door. ”

Adapting to different demographics

These strategic decisions include not only the services the business provides, but also who are considered key customers. When her Patricia Wynn, owner of Patricia Services, LLC in Hillsboro, North Carolina, launched her lifestyle assistant her business in April 2021, her customer base was primarily her 65+. I thought it consisted of clients from

Over the past year, her client base has evolved to include Generation X and even busy mothers of young children and PhD candidates who need to help cook for their families while working on their PhD thesis. Now included.

“Originally on my website, it looked like it was aimed at older people,” says Wynn. “Now I want to reach out to people who need help in their daily lives, regardless of age.

The expansion of her target market has been fruitful, but not without challenges. Adding one or two of her members of staff to her is difficult even on a part-time basis as she is one. “Recruiting was harder than expected,” says Wynn. “There is a labor shortage all over the country. People are all doing their own thing and don’t want to work for others, even if they have a part-time job.”

“I also need to set aside enough time with the client to offer someone to work with me,” she adds.

Being flexible also means growing your startup incrementally, says David Deeds, Schultz Professor of Entrepreneurship at St. Thomas Opus College of Business in Minneapolis and EIX Editor-in-Chief.

Tips for growing slowly

“When starting a business, buy only what you need,” he advises. “Whenever possible, when it comes to equipment and other items, buy second-hand or second-hand and cheap. Don’t get an office before you need it. It’s the difference between being successful, having a big ego, and doing too much too quickly and failing.”

It was a strategic decision for Wynn, who spent the past year dodging the pandemic, inflation, and rising gas prices to expand its startup business.

“I take one day at a time,” she says. “I have to do what I need to do to feed myself and pay my bills. You have to let go, and you may have to approach it in a different way.”

Responding to new situations

As things change, entrepreneurs should not be afraid to update their business plans. Instead of updating once a year, he may have many updates monthly, weekly, or daily. Startups don’t work in a vacuum, they work in the ever-changing real world.

According to a recent article from, successful business leaders spend time creating effective strategic plans for where they want their business to go and how to best allocate resources to get there. must be determined.

Many factors go into developing a differentiation strategy for a new business, but according to this article, one of the most important is determining your target market and how best to reach that market effectively. is to find a way to

To that end, Wynn, who has been in business for over a year, is rethinking how she advertises her company, estimating prices, and considering expanding to add an employee or two.

Changes Underway at Patricia Services

“I’ve come to the conclusion this month that I’m going to make some changes to what I do,” says Wynn. We only get a few referrals, so by the end of August or early September we plan to print flyers and distribute them to unadvertised locations in Hillsboro and Chapel Hill.Some people are still online. Because you didn’t buy the service.”

Going forward, Wynn says he will change the pricing structure. For new customers, instead of charging by the hour for cleaning, cooking, or running errands, she asks, “Evaluate the job I’m being asked for and the size of the house, and how much money I need to drive there.” We take into account the cost of gasoline and then provide a price estimate for each particular home.”

She finds that a local cleaning company charges more than she does for the same job. Some clients also have an element of caregiving, whether they are supervising young people or assisting older clients.

“I’m changing my pricing to make it more fair for the time and energy I put into it,” says Wynn, who maintains hourly rates for existing clients.

think second hand

She also wants to add commercial clients such as banks, office buildings, and car dealerships to her customer list. That way, her cash flow will increase and she will be able to hire people besides her brother to clean the property regularly for customers who rent on Airbnb.

According to Wynn, the challenge is maintaining a 40- to 45-hour work week alternating five to six days, while preventing time to sit down and figure out the next steps for the business.

“It’s hard when you’re alone,” she says. “One of my clients moved to Boston, so I had Monday and Wednesday nights free to look at my computer and see what I needed to do to move forward, make more profit, add clients and staff. To attract more staff, you’ll need to fill out job postings through your local labor office.When I was a manager at McDonald’s and Wendy’s, I used to post job postings there. “

Careful screening of job applicants

Wynn says he sometimes posts job listings for his business on Facebook, making it clear that background checks are conducted on applicants.

Wynn will hire someone to work with her when she replaces a client who has moved to Massachusetts.

“Part of the interview is to follow me around for a few hours so you can see what I’m doing for the client,” Wynn says. If my customers like them, I’ll send them alone while I serve another customer next week.”

Wynn says that in order to add even one staff member, existing clients need to be able to build good relationships with someone other than her. “I’ve worked hard this past year to build good relationships with my clients, but I have to keep it up,” she says.