A lot has changed that affects how we view and conduct business.

For one, our economy has changed. And as a result there are many, many people who once worked at large corporations who have been laid off or let go. A sizable number of these people are 50ish, and they’re sitting on the fence between being too young to retire and too old to start job hunting. Their choices are to wait it out or take control of their working years by starting their own businesses.

Our idea of getting older has also changed. Whether by need or by choice, turning 55 or 60 doesn’t necessarily mean slowing down and calling it a day. We’re eating healthier, exercising, and living longer. Some baby boomers can’t afford to kick back and play with grandkids. Others simply don’t want to – they’d rather be chasing the American dream like everyone else.

These changes have made baby boomers one of the most powerful entrepreneurial groups in business today. Close to one-quarter of all new businesses in the US are started by people age 50 and older who are choosing entrepreneurship instead of retirement.

I want to talk about this for a minute. Because there’s another thing that’s changed, and that is the way people connect and consume information. It’s a change that dramatically affects how you market and grow your business. Conversations are truncated into quick texts, tweets, emails and status updates. The amount of space available to communicate is shrinking as mobile searches continue to rise. People are so inundated with information that they’ve become experts at on-the-go scanning, filtering, sorting and deleting. Print is on a decline and advertising is primarily viewed on social, search and web platforms.

Close to one-quarter of all new businesses in the US are started by people age 50 and older. Click To Tweet

You may or may not have felt the impact of this shift during the time you spent working in the corporate environment. Larger corporations generally have the size and resources to fund specialized departments to take care of specific, essential business tasks, such as marketing. When you’re on your own, you don’t have those departments to rely upon. And yet your ability to get the word out about your new venture is crucial to the success of your business.

Don’t make the mistake that many young businesses make of trying to tackle marketing on your own, especially if your skill set lies outside of this specialty. With tools like Wix and Squarespace for websites, the do-it-yourself approach may seem appealing. And this is especially applicable with social media and email marketing – I mean, haven’t we all been on Facebook and been emailing forever? How hard could it be to utilize them to grow our businesses?

First off, you’ll spend an exorbitant amount of time absorbed in steep learning curves rather than focusing on more important areas of your business. Secondly, somewhere along the line, something will become vulnerable, whether it’s an insecure website design that leaves customer data vulnerable to hackers, a website that can’t be found on search and leaves your business with no visibility, or a social media meltdown that makes your brand look absolutely terrible.

It turns out that marketing requires skill and training in much the same way accounting and the law do. As such, you need to factor the expense of professional marketing support into your operating budget from the beginning. If you’d never dream of trusting your new company to an amateur bookkeeper, why would you leave equally important functions to someone who’s less than the best at what they do? Don’t treat it as an afterthought or an add-on. If you do, you’ll only wind up spinning your wheels in extreme and expensive ways. Marketing is the core of your business’ success and should be treated as such.

If you do decide to market your business on your own, make sure you set realistic goals and keep your focus on the broader picture. Don’t jeopardize the success of your business with shortsighted plans. Marketing is not now and never was something you could “set and forget”. There is no magic ad or press release that will transform your business overnight. You must have a strategic plan and consistent follow-through in order to achieve measurable results. And all of your marketing initiatives need to be tightly integrated on desktop, mobile, search, social and traditional platforms.

Even with traditional print and radio, successful marketing has never been a one-hit wonder. It takes time and considerable effort to build brand awareness and grow your business. It won’t happen in a vacuum and it certainly won’t happen overnight. People who are transitioning from corporate life to entrepreneurship who understand the value of consistent, effective marketing tend to be successful. This is something to keep in mind as you’re planning out the next stage in your career.