As a Certified Financial Planner, it's no surprise that I believe every American should have a robust financial plan.
It's even more important for entrepreneurs to have financial plans and to think about their financial futures, because they carry so much risk. Part of that planning is keeping up with the trends that are changing our wallets.
From major societal shifts like increasing life expectancy to tech innovations like on-demand services, these six trends can revolutionize how we do business and manage our finances.
1. We're living longer
The idea of age 65 marking the start of our "golden years" of retirement is a fundamentally modern concept. And it's a quickly evolving one. As our lifespans extend - women, take note, as our lifespans are even longer - we need to adjust our financial plans accordingly.
Conservatively, build your financial plan based on the assumption that you will live until at least 95. Take your health and families into account, so if your parents or grandparents hit their centennial birthdays, assume you've got those genes too.
2. Our family structures look different.
We're marrying and starting families later--thanks to scientific breakthroughs -- and with both of those things come cost implications.
Raising kids is also getting more expensive and as more of us become part of a "sandwich generation," we're not only providing for our own families, we're supporting our aging parents, too.
Does your personal financial plan leave room for these life changes? Even if this doesn't apply to you or your business, it may apply to the people you're employing, your customers, users and clients. Does your business model allow for these increasing costs? Take this shifting household into consideration.
3. Our earning potential is flexible.
You've surely taken advantage of the gig economy by summoning an Uber or a Lyft. But have you considered how a new wave of workers (and entrepreneurs) will capitalize on the ability to earn more on the side?
With the rise of the gig economy, we are no longer at the mercy of any one employer. We can now literally monetize any unused time, on our own terms.
That also means our time is more valuable than ever -- and as such, we should streamline our lives. Technology is empowering us to turn our free time into actual dollars.
How much is your time worth? You may not have the bandwidth to list your services on TaskRabbit, but many, many people do. Innovation must take that new value proposition into account.
4. Our career paths are fluid.
Sabbaticals are in. "Taking a break" used to be considered irresponsible -- something surfers and slackers did -- but the stigma is lifting and it won't be long before employees consider a company-sanctioned sabbatical a right, instead of just a perk.
Companies and employers are finally recognizing that taking time off from work has countless benefits. It's a chance to broaden our horizons, recharge and regain our creativity and motivation. What does this mean for the potential talent you want to attract? And for your journey as a founder? Work environments that attract top prospects are getting more flexible, not less.
5. Everything is on-demand.
The fact that on any given day, I can have just about anything delivered to my home on-demand is probably one of the best perks of the digital era. The instant on-demand economy saves me travel, time, hassle and money -- and I want everyone reaping the same benefits.
The rise of the on-demand economy has introduced entirely new business models that let us spend our money in new ways. Whether it's a home renovation or a freelance project that proves more time-consuming than we bargained for, on-demand allows us to get the help we need, when we need it, so we can maximize the ROI on our time.
Technology has given us endless options -- along with price transparency. That's more power in your hands -- and in the hands of your customers and users.
6. Sharing is the new economy.
From bikes to ski equipment to handbags to parking spaces, these days there's a sharing app for what you need. And I believe that this trend -- paying to use the things you need, when you need them -- is gaining more and more momentum.
In a twist, sharing-economy companies like Airbnb create opportunities to increase value of the things we already own. But what if say, the Ubers of the world, could shift to a subscription model that would entitle customers not just to rides, but also to on-demand access to various modes of transportation? Max Motschillwer, a General Partner at Meritech Capital Partners, shared with me this idea. Think: Ride-share car, bike, e-scooter, and even public transportation. The app would instantly recommend which mode of transportation to take, based not just on your location and destination, but also traffic patterns, time of day, your personal preferences, and even the weather.
Just like that, transportation would transform overnight. In all of these instances, the innovations and societal shifts changing our wallets aren't just making it easier to hail a cab. As the way we make and spend money goes through a dramatic disruption, every business has an opportunity to imagine a different way of doing things -- and a different future for all of us.
Northwestern Mutual is the marketing name for The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company (NM), Milwaukee, WI and its subsidiaries.