By Jane Applegate
I’ve spent the year interviewing amazing women for The Applegate Report. So, please indulge me this one year-end rant. I promise I’ll be back in January with more inspirational and motivational profiles.
This was a hell of a year. It was the year that most everyone I know finally accepted the “new normal”. Less is truly more and lean and mean is here to stay. My main example: experienced professionals who write, edit, design marketing materials, web sites, shoot video or produce sponsored events are now competing with anyone with a college degree and a smartphone. Unpaid or untalented bloggers are clogging cyberspace with unedited crap. So many of my colleagues have been kicked to the curb and forced to re-invent themselves to keep the lights on. It seems like anyone north of 50 is facing an early and forced retirement.
I admit it hurts to have my blue-chip clients wind down my long-standing writing, speaking and production contracts. Why pay me when they can use social media? But, I’m not going away. I’ll be speaking several times in 2014—starting with an International Women’s Day event Santa Barbara on March 8.
Despite the bumpy economy, 2013 was a year of new beginnings. I’ve focused my efforts on producing three films. I figure the entertainment business is so random that I have as good a chance as anyone to make great movies—all about strong and fascinating women. So, after writing and producing millions of dollars’ worth of TV programs and promotional videos, as well as working on other people’s features and short films, I am confident I can do this. We’ll see if the women who complain to me that there are no good movies for them are willing to support my projects. Please check out my first film project.
So, what else is new and different for 2014? Crowd funding is huge—not just for wacky inventions but for all sorts of products and creative projects. (Keep an eye out for new rules and regulations being proposed by the Securities and Exchange Commission which may make it harder to raise money.)
Sharing creative and office space is a cool trend. With commercial rents so high in many places, working communally makes sense for sole proprietors and small teams of people. But finding somewhere affordable to work other than a noisy café is a challenge. The We Work drop-in lounge where I used to work in SoHo now has a long waiting list despite a major price hike.
The new, 20,000-square foot New York Media Center in DUMBO, (Brooklyn) is offering memberships starting at $150 a month for a stretch of counter space and access to Wi-Fi on a first-come, first-served basis. This week, I’m visiting a swanky shared work space that looks like a posh hotel with a bar and luxurious lobby furniture. If you dare to apply for membership you need to be referred by a member and be interviewed before gaining admission. I’m not holding my breath about getting in.
Although small business employment has ticked up in recent months, hiring is still anemic. Few businesses I’ve profiled this year are hiring full-time workers. If they need help, they are hiring contractors or part-timers. Many business owners I know are relying on unpaid or under-paid interns.
So, the new normal is here, but it isn’t terrible. We have learned to do less with more, while watching the super-rich grow richer. Corporations are awash in cash, while the middle class sinks into poverty.
On the bright side, technology has never been more affordable. Competition is driving prices down (except for Apple products). It’s easy to have a fantastic website and gorgeous marketing materials to promote your products and services worldwide.
One final note: if you are looking for help to solve problems and grow your business in 2014, Maui Mastermind is offering special deals to my readers through this link: www.mauimastermind.com/nawbo. You’ll find information about accessing the $2,400 online version of the $20,000 coaching program at no charge. The program includes lots of valuable online tools. This offer is made possible by my friend, Patty DeDominic, former national president of NAWBO.
Here’s to a healthy and happy New Year!
Jane Applegate is the national correspondent for SmallBizDaily.com, author of four books on small business success and co-founder of the FabulousFemaleNetwork.com. The Applegate Group is a multimedia production company.