Tips and Strategies

  • Elizabeth White’s book “55, Unemployed, and Faking Normal” is a coping guide to being jobless after 50

    55 Unemployed Faking Normal Elizabeth White

    Elizabeth White, author of 55, Unemployed, and Faking Normal

    Recently on Paul Solman’s News Hour series Making Sense there was a story about Elizabeth White.  White recently self-published a book, 55 Unemployed, and Faking Normal.  The book is road map to coping with current economic realities.

    55, Unemployed, and Faking Normal contains themes which are relevant to Better, Smarter, Richer.  We reached out to White to talk about her book.

    People facing these issues head on are those close to traditional retirement, or people who would normally be retired.  White herself has a distinguished career which includes working for the World Bank  and holding a senior executive position at a midsize NGO.  At one point she ran a chain of retail stores that sold African themed decor.  She closed the retail stores when she realized it was not working.  She did consulting for a few years after that, then everything went bust in 2008.

    White started blogging in 2015 for Next Avenue, which is owned by PBS.  Her blog was largely about the emotional aspects of unstable income. Discussions about how we got here in the first place included.

    “My friends and I started telling the truth,” White said in an interview from her home in Adams Morgan, Washington D.C.  She and her peers “were looking at the rubble of Plan A.  What do you do?  How do you live a richly textured life on reduced income? Employment is still unstable, even when you did everything right.  Same for other events such a medical issue or divorce.”  People emailed their stories to White.  This conversation ended up in the blog.  The blog post got about a eleven thousand likes and a thousand comments in three days.   The blog posts struck a chord with those previously reluctant to talk about their situation.

    “Twenty-nine percent of older age 55 to 64 have not saved a dime,” White says.  “And among those who have saved, the median value of retirement accounts for that age group is about $100,000.  Now $100,000 is better than zero, but really how long are you going to last on that… three years maybe.” One of the main reasons White wrote the book was to let people know that they don’t have to put on airs with their circumstances.  No one needs to pretend that they are middle class, when in fact they are struggling.  “We need to speak candidly with each other. “

    Budgeting takes on new meaning.  It is about what you need to maintain a quality of life.  White if a lifelong learner, and enjoys going to conferences.  Rather than pay for the whole ticket, she will volunteer or blog in return for admission.  She knows of some who will split an entree with others so they can still have the experience of eating out.  It’s important to know what you care about.  White knows of one individual who drives beat up, raggedy cars. He saved $15,000 so he could buy a flute because music is what really matters to him.

    White also wonders if at some point the sustainability movement and the retirement crisis will intersect.  “Millions of us are going to have to make due with less.  We need to small up,” to figure out what materials things wee need to feel deeply content and grounded. We need a new conversation about what that means.”

    White talks about one significant aspect; the knowledge base of this demographic is not being tapped.  “The most educated generation in history.  Talent has been sidelined.  Millions of people are underemployed and unemployed.”  That said, people need to eat, it is time to be resourceful in finding income.  Many in the the 55+ age group won’t find work that pays what they once were making.  White says she had “to get off her throne,” taking jobs she would not have considered before.  Your skills, car and home are now assets that are now for hire, a la Uber, Fiverr,  and AirB&B.

    Youth culture is highly valued.  This affects older generations, in ways different ways.  “I was at the grocery store the other day and forgot to ask for my senior discount.  I got it anyway.”  The perception of being older but looking younger is in and of itself a quandary.  Looking young is celebrated.  White says we need to re-think what it means to be older.  It should be socially acceptable to be older.  “What are the advantages of aging, the attributes we hold up?  Matthias Hollwich in his book New Aging talks about the gifts of age.”

    White says she is struck by the loss of unengaged talent, which she says is a waste considering all that needs to be done.  She would like to see inter-generational teams of workers.  Places like The Encorepreneur Cafe, which offers a space for older adults to mix with not only their peers but invite multi-age interaction in a robust entrepreneurial environment.  Classes at the Cafe include Jackie B. Peterson’s Keys to Solo Business Success, May 4, 2017 .

    Watch the News Hour story on Elizabeth White here.









  • Your Business Startup

    It’s time to make the leap!

    Leap-353x179Traditional employment is fading fast.

    Now is the time to focus on your business startup

    For more than two decades, ‘Solopreneurship’ has quietly been on the rise. Also called, independent work, freelancing or sometimes contract work. Check out this recent article in Fast Company Magazine.

    Studies show that Solos make up more than 40%. That number is increasing steadily. It’s estimated that number with surge past 50% by 2020.

    In the next 25 years, the workforce will accelerate towards entrepreneurship, independent contracting and “peer to peer” collaborating (we call that “the Waterbug™  model”). Now is the time to focus on your business startup.

    Unfortunately, potential entrepreneurs are not sure what to do with this new found independence. Their first question is “What can I do?”.

    In my new Best Beginnings: Start Your Business Right webinar program, we devote a lot of time to that question.  The first webinar is Titled What Should I Do?  With 9 accompanying work sheets, it helps you answer that question.  (It is a bargain at $199.95.)

  • Overcome Startup Fear Barriers

    Starting a solo business requires action

    Overcome StartUp Fear BarriersOvercome startup fear barriers to remove procrastination and paralysis.

    When you first think of starting your own business, you’re bombarded with questions. “What do I have to offer?” “How will I get clients?” “How much will I charge?”

    Those questions can stop you in your tracks. Start by thinking about what you’ve already been doing, either in your last job or in your life. Most solos start out doing some kind of consulting or service. Then you develop from there.

    In this episode of Better, Smarter, Richer Jackie will share several stories of some of her clients. Learn how they took their job skills and used them to start up their solo business. Starting with what you already have experience in can make it easier to overcome startup fear barriers.

    Confidence and experience are excellent fear busters. When you move into the next stage in your career, it helps to use what you already know to grow your own business. Jackie will share the words other solos are using to overcome startup fear barriers.

    Jackie will also discuss how the 21st Century technology-driven world is different from old-school business. Learn how you can use that to help you overcome startup fear barriers.

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  • Running A Business Without Employees

    teamworkSolo professionals don’t need employees

    Lots of potential entrepreneurs blanche at the idea of having to manage or oversee employees in order to have a successful business.  Their own experience as a manager was not good and their experience as an employee being managed by others is even worse.  That is why solopreneurship is such a wonderful model.  When you are a solo, you do not have employees.  You are a solo. So, how do you run a business without employees? You build a team of professionals dedicated to your success.

    You may hire a team to perform all the administrative tasks such as web development, social media, office support, marketing administration and certainly bookkeeping and taxes.  Maybe also photography and copy writing. 

    Employees are focused on the hourly wage – not your bottom line. Employees have to be told what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. Sometimes, you don’t always know – especially if you’re a solo business owner.  This is not true when you hire  help on a business to business basis, not employer/employee. Outsourcing tasks is an entirely different relationship.

    In this episode of Better Smarter Richer Jackie’s going to share some strategies to get your business done without dealing with the expense and frustration of employees.

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  • From Job To Business Transferable skills

    business transferable skillsHow to transition your job skills into your business

    People thinking about starting a business are often stopped because they cannot figure out what to do.  What do I know how to do that is marketable, they ask?  What do I know that someone would buy?  These are questions we answer in our Best Beginnings program.  My advice is to begin by looking critically at the work you have been doing over your whole career.  Think about what you have done for your employer, then raise it up one level.  For instance if you were a PR person for the Jones Company, you found resources and developed PR for their company.  They had certain products, customers and messages that they wanted you to make public. 

    So, is your skill doing PR for the Jones Company, or is your skill identifying markets, crafting messages and finding opportunities for ANY entrepreneur to become better known.  If you can see yourself able to use your talents to serve others, not just your former employer, you are on the way to developing your own business.

    When you’re starting up your own business, it can be a challenge defining exactly what you do. In a job situation people have ‘job titles’ where the job description is defined for them. As you define the services you offer in your own business you have to be much more imaginative and creative and move beyond  your old job description.

    What if you want to offer a service that is different from a ‘job title’ that you once had? Good news! When you’re setting up your own business, you get to design it the way you want. Pull from your past, choose the skills you’re best at, add in what you love to do, and create the best solutions for your clients.

    Where do you start and what should you consider when you decide which skills you want to highlight with your business? It can be hard to evaluate yourself and decided which skills will be income earners when you’re on your own.

    In this episode of Better Smarter Richer Jackie will explain ways that you can transfer skills from your employment background into your own business concept.

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