EconomicsAgeing

The economics of ageing

Over the past few months I have been following the media’s preoccupation with the “baby boomers”. Being over 60,  I am facing up to the challenges of not being in my prime any more. As current policy goes I am in fact only a few years away from retirement age [at the time of writing – see below for original date of publication].  What weighs on my mind however, is that by the time I reach 65 they will have moved the goalposts. I will have to wait till I am am 70 and who knows, by then, they will have probably dismantled the goal posts altogether.

I am most probably part of the work-till-you-drop generation. Retirement is just a passing phase, in the broader historic scheme of things. My grand fathers worked till they dropped and retirement was a luxury afforded only to post-war generations but, as an economic concept, it looks it’s being consigned to the museum of history.

What do we do?  With a labour market that is almost universally geared to people aged between 21 and 31, people in my age group are struggling to find any kind of employment. Despite the government’s blandishments about the need to employ older people, the recruitment industry just does not want to know.

This is why I am building my future around self-employment, where age does not necessarily matter. After 45 years of working life, I consider myself to have a broad range of knowledge, skills and experience. Try telling that to HR consultants. Fortunately I now include in that work profile,  over 15 years experience of running my own micro businesses.

Several things have got me thinking about the future of work.  Notice I use the word work; part of my vision of the future is that employment  is likely to follow retirement  into the graveyard of economic history – at least for a very sizeable segment of the population.

The 21st century is going to experience a sea change in how people earn a living. Large sections of the population are going to have get into self-employment and running their own  businesses, for no other reason than that is the only way they can avoid destitution and poverty. We are enter the age of the “sole trader”. [Current indications are that just under half the UK population of working age is self-employed. According to the Office of National Statistics, ‘Self-employment higher than at any point over past 40 years’, in 2014. ‘ The number of over 65s who are self-employed has more than doubled in the past 5 years to reach nearly half a million’]

We saw the rise of the Entrepreneur in the industrial revolution, the rise of the capitalist and the rise of corporate man in the twentieth century.  All that is waning and the the age of the sole trader is upon us. Company pensions are going to be a thing of the past and indeed several people have said recently that they have given up on the idea of a pension and prefer to invest in more secure containers for their wealth.  It’s an issue that government policy analysts are wrestling with. Western capital has moored itself to the rock of the pension funds, only to find that they have secured themselves to rocks that are beginning to sink to a watery grave, where they will find themselves gathering encrustations alongside the wrecks of “banks” and “building societies”.

In the meantime, my ship of private business is sailing into the new dawn of the twenty first century economy. Those who are aged 55 and over should be thinking about their futures as working men and women. Those futures are largely going to be self-determining.  We are exhorting our children to start paying into pension funds as soon as they start work, planning for a life-time of saving for their retirement.  Don’t.  It’s basing their future on the here and now.  Not a good idea.

I would rather see the nation’s parents exhorting their offspring to go on business courses, so that they have to basic skills to go it alone, if they find themselves bereft of employment  (a not-unlikely scenario, in my view.)
Tax consultants will have to start thinking outside of the box. Post-war society never had it so good because the state could easily collect its revenues from bulk employers: the corporations that could maintain an army of administrators to tax the work force and send the cheques to the treasury. Very cost-efficient. It is not where things will be in the future.

There might well be big corporations for the rest of our life-times but they are likely to be populated with sub-contractors rather than employees.  I am seriously thinking about the amount of time I spend submitting my CVs to companies. My four hours a day of laborious sifting through vacancies could be better spent raising my profile in the market place. So, if you’re the MD of a recruitment agency or a jobs web site, take my advice – plan for the future and re-engineer what you are doing. Your business is likely to find itself resting alongside the wrecks of the pension funds and banks.

The old order is waning. We just need to stand back far enough to see the bigger picture and look for enough head to see the direction in which the world is heading. Listening to a social media guru tonight, I heard her say that she stopped bothering about getting herself listed on job web sites and concentrated on making herself “be found” on the Internet.  Now, people phone her up to ask her to work for them, she claimed.  Much better.  That is where I need to be. recruiters now should be searching for people to hire. if you want a particular type of person, someone with a distinctive profile, you should be out there looking for them.

They [prospective recruiters]  no longer need to apply to you. You need to apply to them. Age is not important.  It’s a complete red-herring (just as is gender.) If you need people with the right skills for the job, go out and find them. As tonight’s speaker said:  NEVER put your real age on a profile, the speaker claimed.  I totally agree and we both understand the reasons why this principle is of prime importance. For me, it mainly to do with identity theft, where date of birth is the key to stealing identity (I know from my years of doing genealogy.)

I have decided not to put my age on my CV and I am busily deleting information that will give a clue to my age. If they are going to judge my application using age as a factor, I don’t want their job, I will just press the next button.

So, what am I going to do that will earn me a living and be consisted with my knowledge, skills and experience? I am going to work (notice the lack of the word job) for companies who can make money from people like me and share the benefits with people who want to work for them. Forget the pension, the PAYE, the office, the set hours of work, the employment contract, the annual leave package. These are legacy already.

Ah!  I can hear some of you whingeing already about the loss of annual leave. Well when you work for yourself you arrange your own holidays. You decide how much holiday you can afford, when you want it and where and how you want to take it.

Wave good bye to the concept of annual leave, conditions of service, benefits (such as the company car), the corporate credit card, health plans and all the other trappings of post-industrial corporate life. If you want something, earn the money and buy it yourself.

I did talk about sole traders  earlier didn’t I? Well, it’s interesting that many of the people who are on the long march into the new economy are working together. Yes they are still sole traders but they seeing the opportunities of working alongside other sole traders in business pods, even in project swarms. Being a sole trader can be lovely and isolating. Until you discover all the other people who are in same situation and suddenly realise that if you all work together,  you can be more than the sum of your parts.

Disheartened?  Frightened? Filled with foreboding?  I’m not. I am excited about the possibilities and the opportunities to show what I can do with my 45 years of experience.

Trevor Locke © 15th December 2010

Retirement

4th February 2015

Retirement

Planning for retirement

Some time ago I announced my ‘retirement’. It was a big mistake.  People keep asking me things like “Are you enjoying your retirement?” My usual reply is “The only thing I have retired from is retirement.”

Far from having retired, I am just as busy now as I ever have been. Don’t get me wrong:  I am not complaining about this.  I am just recognising this as a fact of life.  Retirement, I think, might have been a concept (or a procedure) that came about in history when people used to have jobs.  The work till they became of retirement age (traditionally 65 for men) and then they retired from work.

I ceased to be in paid employment many years ago. I gave up being employed by other people to run my own business – and be my own boss. That is not something you can easily retire from. If you set up your own business (becoming self-employed) then that is not something you can easily walk away from. Not if you are a sole trader. If you a member of a partnership or group, then yes you could do this and let the others carry on.  I have always been a sole trader. I can’t leave the business to others.  It’s me and only me. That’s why the only thing I have retired from is retirement.

Does any of this have any relevance for anyone else?  Well, it does if you happen to be in the same circumstances as me; or, if you have made so much money you really do not need to should the responsibilities of having the run a business any more. If that is you – well done and good luck! Me – well I carry on doing what I do for two reasons:

Firstly,  I love what I do.  I can’t live without it.  I work now mainly in the fields of music, history and journalism. Often, I do all three of these at the same time. I find I can’t easily walk away from my greatest passions. If I give all this up – what am I left with?  Not a lot.

Secondly, I don’t need the money.  I am very adept at living comfortably on my pension and making ends meet. The business helps financially in so far as it breaks even; it covers most of its costs (operational overheads) but it isn’t making me wealthy. Running magazines you do for love not money. Working in the arts and history is something that I do as a service to the public; I certainly don’t do it to make money for myself.

As one gets older, it is, I think, very important to keep the old brainbox going. Having something to do every day is important to keeping the mind in robust health and this prolongs active life. Admittedly you don’t have to work with the same level of pressure as was the case when your life depended on it. I spend a lot of my time writing.  I have several books on the go and I am running two magazines. That gives me a life.  I think the problem that many people faced when they retired is that it left them with nothing much to do, apart from the endless round of every day activities – gardening, playing with their grand-children, taking holidays, or whatever gives them pleasure. All very expensive pastimes. I enjoy the cut and thrust of having challenges, keeping up with my own deadlines, responding to the demands of the people I work for  (readers) and that keeps me in rude health.

Will I ever let go and do the retirement thing properly?  I doubt it. Retirement these days is a luxury afforded only by the rich.  Us poor people have to work till we drop.  the great thing is that I don’t have to work. I choose to work because it gives me a sense of fulfilment and keeps me active and connected.  Our society needs to update the concept of retirement for the 21st century. Or abandon it altogether (probably a more honest approach.)

Working with the web-o-sphere

The world of the Internet is constantly changing

I started to use the Internet shortly after it became widely available in the UK.  Since then it has changed a lot and keeps changing all the time.

Who would have thought that Facebook would have become so popular? Who would have thought that smart phones would begin to replace desk top computers as the main instrument to connect to the ‘net?

These changes keep us on our toes. We have to understand what is happening in the web-o-sphere; the growth of social media offers a wide range of opportunities. There are also several ‘threats’ posed by the changes taking place and I have already written about web sites becoming redundant.

Those who use the Internet for business purposes need to be aware of the opportunities.  Enterprise is largely about seizing opportunities.  so, if your business does not have a page on Facebook, you are missing opportunities to make contact with new customers.   If you do not use Twitter, you are missing opportunities to push your message out to people.

All of these facilities now exist on the Internet but they will work for you if and only if you use them regularly. I appreciate I am writing for myself but I guess we are all in the same boat. Running a business is a complicated activity that requires a good deal of dedication and considerable agility with personal time management.

If you have a blog, you should go on it and post at least once a month. If your blog is simply one of a number of on-line facilities that you use, then monthly updates are a must do line in your calendar.  If your blog is your main outlet, then it’s either a daily or at least weekly duty.

Tweeting is fine if you have several hundred highly relevant followers. If your  Twittersphere includes less than 50 high relevance people, then your main job should be trying to get more quality followers. It matter not how many people you follow, What matters is who is going to read your tweets.

If you have set up a business page on Facebook, you need to go on it regularly.  How regularly will depend on how many people are seeing it. There is little point in writing daily postings if no one is reading them. The world of social media is all about audience.

Without an audience you are performing to an empty room. Like a singer or band,  you have to go out there and win fans. In the business world, it is also about the quality of the fans you attract. That means finding people who are likely to buy from you.  There is something to be said for being a familiar face in the market place. When your name pops up all over the place, people become familiar with your name or brand. That increases consumer confidence.

I could write all day along these lines but I have a long ‘to do’ list to get through.  If you would like to attend a workshop on using the Internet for business, drop me a message on my Facebook page.

If I have events coming up I can tell you about them;  alternatively if you come with a few other people, I can do a workshop – just for you.

[My business – B2B Web – closed in 2016 when I retired.]

Recession boosts on-line sales

Recent newsletters are suggesting that now is a good time to get into or to expand on-line selling.

During the continuing recession, consumers are looking at how to manage their spending, to get more for their squeezed purses and wallets.

This  has brought about a trend towards on-line shopping, away from high street retail outlets.

The evidence points to a growth in demand for those Internet shopping outlets that offer better prices than even the supermarkets and high street chain stores.

Manufacturers with on-line outlets are therefore seeing the advantage of selling over the ‘Net to secure more sales and high levels of profit. The recession is precisely the time when retailers need to invest in their on-line stores.

With the increased price of fuel for domestic vehicles, shoppers are seeing the advantage of staying at home to purchase those things which they do not need to get into their cars to go out and buy.

 

 

Why you should plan your business

“Fail to plan = plan to fail”

Why business starts need good planning.

You have a great idea for a new business. You think it could really work. You can  see where the market is and who the customers will be.

You start the ball rolling.

Stop. You have forgotten something – planning. The failure rate for new business starts ups is really high. My guess is that the reason for this is that people launch into it without thinking. More specifically, without planning. Entrepreneurs like to following inspiration – they do not always go with the perspiration.

Once you get into the cut and thrust of day-to-day business operations you won’t have time to think and plan. You will always say “I can’t top to do a business plan. I’d too busy”. I know how you feel.

Most people who start businesses these days fail to allow time to plan the business properly. They do not see the need for this. When things get tough – as they always do – there is no plan B, there is no contingency. This is where the whole enterprise is it risk of failing.

All businesses – whether corporate or sole trader – need to have a business plan. Both the text about goals, missions and markets and also the spreadsheets that predict turnover, income, expenditure and the bottom line for at least the year ahead.

This is not an academic exercise. You will need a business plan to open a band account. You should use your plan to spot where the stress points will be in your monthly forecasts – enabling you to plan ahead and avoid financial problems.

I set up a new social enterprise company and after our first six months of trading we are solvent, we made a small profit and we are really looking forward to the next six months.

 

Business Advice for artists and entertainers

Trevor Locke can now offer qualified business advice for artists and entertainers.

Having gained an award in Social Enterprise, Trevor Locke can offer business advice to people needing to earn their living as artists or entertainers.

Artists can be from any genre or art form. Entertainers can be from any form of work: musicians, singers, comedians, magicians, dancers, actors, writers, poets … if you think that you need advice about how to earn a living from your work, I will be pleased to hear from you.

You can contact me by email, via my web site, link up with me on Facebook or call me by phone if you want to know more.

My main web site is

www.artsinleicestershire.co.uk

and on Facebook

I have achieved the SFEDI accreditation in Social Enterprise, Core Units of Compentence, 1 to 8, Social Enterprise competencies A to D.

Whether you want to operate as a social enterprise company or only as a sole trader, I can still help you.

If you are worried about your Tax Affairs, see my blog about the services offered by Irwen Mitchell

Why I love web design training

Today I started training a new client in web design. My trainee has opted for a course of 12 sessions, going through what I call the starter package for new web designers and has opted to make a real web site as part of the course.

I really enjoy doing training. I have over 12 years experience of teaching web design and this is part of my work that has been very successful and which I enjoy the most.

Most trainees opt for a session of 2 hours and usually do one session per week. All training (or “coaching” as I sometimes call it) is one to one and hands-on. I have worked in classroom and small group settings, training in web design but I like the personal challenges that come with face to face coaching.

I teach professional web design and very often this is for people who want to become web designers as part of their career path. My curriculum is based on professional experience and includes much that is left out by academic courses taught by those who are not jobbing web designers. You cannot learn modern practice from a curriculum manual that was edited some time ago but for many accreditation bodies, this is what happens.

To do this work well you have to be up to date with current practice. That is constantly changing. The whole world of website design has changed a lot, mainly due to the impact of Web 2 and social networking sites. Also, in the UK at least, most people are now using Broadband and this has introduced a layer of multi-media content that has radically changed what you can include as content on a site.

I write my own courses and have done for some time. I have course curriculums that I have made up myself to fit with commissions and contracts. Some of my courses are unique and I think I am good a designing courses and all the support materials that go with them. I charge very competitive rates, given that grant aid or funding for this is now extremely difficult to get.

My business – B2B Web Consultants – closed in 2016 when I retired.

Will the 21st Century work?

10th March 2013

Retirement planning

Trevor Locke (the author of this blog) has announced that he will ‘retire’ in August 2014.

Being clear about some things,  he has begun the process of downsizing his business commitments.

He will however continue to be available to provide consultancy services up to and beyond his official retirement date.

The economics of ageing in the twenty-first century.

Over the past few months I have been following the media’s preoccupation with the “baby boomers”. Being over 60, I am facing up to the challenges of not being classed as in my ‘prime’ any more. As current policy goes, I am in fact only a few years away from retirement age. What weighs on my mind however, is that by the time I reach 65 they will have moved the goal posts. I will have to wait till I am 70 and who knows, by then, they will have probably dismantled the goal posts altogether.

I am most probably part of the work-till-you-drop generation. Retirement is just a passing phase, in the broader historic scheme of things. My grandfathers worked till they dropped and retirement was a luxury afforded to post-war generations but, as an economic concept, its looks it’s being consigned to the museum of history.

What do we do? With a labour market that is almost universally geared to people aged between 21 and 31, people in my age group are struggling to find any kind of employment. Despite the government’s blandishments about the need to employ older people, the recruitment industry just does not want to know.

This is why I am building my future around self-employment, where age does not matter. After 45 years of working life, I consider myself to have a broad range of knowledge, skills and experience. Try telling that to HR consultants. Fortunately I now include. in that work profile, over 15 years experience of running my own businesses.

Several things have got me thinking about the future of work. Notice I use the word “work”; part of my vision of the future is that “employment” is likely to follow “retirement” into the graveyard of economic history – at least for a very sizeable segment of the population. The 21st century is going to see a sea change in how people earn a living. Large sections of the population are going to have to get into self-employment and running their own businesses, for no other reason than that is the only way they can avoid destitution and poverty. We are entering the age of the “sole trader”.

We saw the rise of the Entrepreneur in the industrial revolution, the rise of the capitalist and then the rise of corporate man. All that is now waning and the age of the sole trader is upon us. Company pensions are going to be a thing of the past and indeed several people have said recently that they have given up on the idea of a pension and prefer to invest in more secure containers for their wealth.

It’s an issue that government policy analysts are wrestling with. Western capital has moored itself to the rock of the pension funds, only to find that they have secured themselves to rocks that are beginning to sink to a watery grave, where they will find themselves gathering incrustations alongside the wrecks of “banks” and “building societies”.

In the meantime, my ship of private business is sailing into the new dawn of the twenty-first century economy. Those who are 55 and over, should be thinking about their futures as working men and women. Those futures are going to be self-determining. We are exhorting our children to start paying into private pension funds as soon as they start work, planning for a life-time of saving for their retirement. Don’t. It’s basing their future on the here and now. Not a good idea. Occupational pensions will soon become a thing of the part. Whether private pensions can replace them, remains to be seen. I ask myself this question: if you are not going to retire, why do you need a pension?

I would rather see the nation’s parents exhorting their offspring to go on business courses, so that they have the basic skills to go it alone, if they find themselves bereft of “employment” (a not-unlikely scenario, in my view.)

Tax strategists will have to start thinking outside of the box. Post-war society never had it so good because the state could easily collect its revenues from bulk employers: the corporations that could maintain an army of administrators to tax the work force and send the cheques to the Treasury. Very cost-efficient for central government. It is now not where things will be in the future. PAYE’s contribution to Treasury revenues will go down. Income related taxation will increasingly be based on self-assessment tax returns.

There might well be big corporations for the rest of our life-times but they are likely to be populated with contractors rather than employees. The relationship between entrepreneurs who run businesses and their work-force is changing. The old-style PAYE employment scenario is being replaced by a hire and contract approach. This will change the way working people are recruited.

I am seriously thinking about the amount of time I spend submitting my CVs to companies. My four hours a day of laborious sifting through vacancies could be better spent raising my profile in the market place. So, if you’re the MD of a recruitment agency or a jobs web site, take my advice. Plan for the future and re-engineer what you are doing. Your business is likely to find itself resting alongside the wrecks of the pension funds and banks. Jobs are out, contract tenders are in.

The old order is waning. We just need to stand back far enough to see the bigger picture and look for enough head to see the direction in which the world is heading. Listening to a social media guru tonight, I heard her say that she stopped bothering about getting herself listed on job web sites and concentrated on making herself “be found” on the Internet. Now, people phone her up to ask her to work for them. Much better. That is where I need to be.

Recruiters now should be searching for people to hire. If you want a particular type of person, someone with a distinctive profile, you should be out there looking for them. The time when we applied for jobs that were posted on recruitment web sites is passing into the shadows of history.

Employers, in this future world, will not be advertising for staff. They will be out there searching for people who have put their offer, their CV, their profile on the Internet and are waiting to be found. Age is not important. It’s a complete red-herring (just as is, gender or race.) If you need people with the right skills for the job, go out and find them. As tonight’s speaker said: “NEVER put your real age on a profile.” I totally agree and we both understand the reasons why this principle is of prime importance.

For me, it is mainly to do with identity theft, where date of birth is the key to getting the rest (I know from my years of doing genealogy.) I have decided not to put my age on my CV and I am busily deleting information that will give a clue to my age. If they are going to judge my application using age as a factor, I don’t want their job, I will just press the next button.

Earning a living

So, what am I going to do that will earn me a living and be consistent with my knowledge, skills and experience? I am going to work (notice the lack of the work ‘job’) for companies who can make money from people like me and share the benefits with people who want to work with them rather than for them. Forget the pension, the PAYE, the office, the set hours of work, the employment contract, the annual leave package. These are already legacy . Ah! I can hear some of you whingeing already about the loss of annual leave. Well when you work for yourself you arrange your own holidays. You decide how much holiday you can afford, when you want it and where and how you want to take it.

Wave good-bye to the concept of annual leave, conditions of service, benefits (such as the company car), the corporate credit card, health plans and all the other trappings of post-industrial corporate life. If you want something, earn the money and buy it yourself.

Sole traders

I did talk about “sole traders” earlier didn’t I? Well, it’s interesting that many of the people who are on the long march into the new economy are working together. Yes, they are still sole traders but they seeing the opportunities of working alongside other sole traders, in business pods, even in project swarms. Being a sole trader can be lonely and isolating. Until you discover all the other people who are in same situation and suddenly realise that if you all work together, you can be more than the sum of your parts.

Disheartened? Frightened? Filled with foreboding? I’m not. I am excited about the possibilities and the opportunities to show what I can do with my 45 years of experience.

Business Advisers Network

Latest news

8th August 2011

The Business Advisors Network (BAN) is still going strong and plans to offer three more meetings this year. These will be in the East Midlands.

More information is available from the SEEM web site on

I attended the launch of BAN – the Business Advisers Network. This brings together people who advise social enterprises.

It is both a real social network where people meet together and an e-network that allows people to exchange information between meetings.

The meeting took place at Nottingham Trent University on 29th June 2010. Further meetings are planned for September, December and March 2011.

Information about BAN is available on the SEEM web site.

Those present at the meeting came from a variety of professional backgrounds but all were concerned with giving advice about social enterprise and business.

Support for Social Enterprise in Leicester

The leading agency that supports emerging, new and established social enterprises in Leicester/shire is called Case-da. They have a web site: Case-da and their office is in New Walk. The web site does have a listing of social enterprises in our area, although they tell me it is not necessarily up to date.

Case-da began life as Leicester and County Co-operative Development Agency and changed their name in 2005. They will help people in the East Midlands, although a lot of work tends to be focused in Leicester/shire.