Going solo in your business is either a launch strategy or a deliberate business model choice. Sometimes you are just getting off the ground and you’re a party of One, doing everything from accounting to marketing to product development. Other times, though, you are intentionally creating a lifestyle business and don’t want extra complication from staff, tax requirements or overhead.
I’ve deliberately chosen a “solopreneur” model for my business and have no plans to build an agency. I like being in control, not managing people and being able to handle the ebbs and flows that writing and consulting bring. Plus, I find it’s easy to keep overhead low and ramp up or pare down by partnering with others as needed.
Being a solopreneur both rocks and sucks – but you can combat the latter (Tweet this!). Perhaps you can relate?
Three perks to being a solopreneur business:
- Control: You maintain control over all business and marketing decisions. There are no politics to deal with or egos to soothe. After my long stint in corporate America, this is a godsend for my stress level.
- Creativity: You can get crazy creative on marketing ideas, promotional pushes and even which projects you take on.
- Speed: When you make a decision, you’re done and off to the races. No internal selling, pleading or persuasion required. I have decided on marketing efforts in the morning and implemented them by that afternoon, easy peasy. I can take advantage of last-minute opportunities and react fast.
OK, couldn’t resist a 4th bonus perk:
- Selectivity: You can work with who you like, when you like. And if it doesn’t work out, you never have to sub-contract that person or continue with that client or customer ever again if you don’t want to.
With upside, comes downside, though.
Three challenges of being a solopreneur – and steps you can take to alleviate the pain:
- Lack of collaboration: If you’re extroverted like me, one of the joys of working on a team is a meeting where you’re all hashing out ideas on a whiteboard. You can get out of your own head and vet ideas with other smart people. Working solo, you miss out on that sanity check from others and potentially limit your thinking, creativity or perspective. Those voices in your head may be leading you astray and you might never know it.
COMBAT THIS! Pull together your own makeshift Board of Directors or accountability group of other solopreneurs. Choose people you respect but who also come at things from a different point of view. I collaborate with a few key partners and often ask to bounce ideas off of them or seek their advice when making a major decision. Another colleague of mine often will email a close group of trusted partners to get a consensus or conversation going when she needs to make a quick decision. Your collaborative team won’t be handed to you when you work alone, spout one together yourself – and offer to play that role for others if they need it.
- Loneliness: If you’re an extrovert like me, this is kind of related to the one above, but it’s more than that. I miss shared office moments, blowing off steam with others, lunch dates, heck even water cooler gossip. I even go in to my husband’s office or a coffee shop every now and then to work just to be around other people. Talking to the dog only gets me so far, and even gets bored with my running commentary and retreats to the other room every now and then.
COMBAT THIS! Get social on your own. Make time for coffee dates to form relationships with other freelancer colleagues. Join local groups and associations. Participate in online forums. Attend conferences. Force yourself out of your office at least 2-3 times per week just to be social. Or arrange phone or Skype meetings with other solopreneurs where you can each just unwind for 30 minutes, laugh, share, vent and support each other.
- Lack of resources: It’s all you, baby! You are chief cook, bottle washer and accountant. If you don’t do it, it won’t get done. Your to-do list is never complete and there are always way more ideas than hours in the day or mental energy that you can expend. It can be hard to unplug when you are all you’ve got. And this can lead to stress, headaches, poor health and damaged relationships.
COMBAT THIS: Ask for help. You are not supposed to be an expert at everything. Why do you think companies and org charts exist? If you are not technical, outsource your website maintenance and design. If you hate writing, hire a part-time writer to put together your materials or blog posts. If you know something will never get done if it stays on your To-Do list, hire someone else to do it for you! The flip side is that this scarcity mentality helps you pare down to the most important tasks in your business right now. Save the stuff you love to do, or the tasks only you can do for your precious time and attention: everything else? Get help. Hire a virtual assistant. Send your receipts to a bookkeeper. One big caveat here: don’t barter for everything. You simply exchange one set of tasks taking up your time for another. If you want to really free up time, make the investment in paying someone else to do it.
Photo credit: 55Laney69 on Flickr
Your turn: Are you a solopreneur? What do you love best? What do you love least and how do you deal with it? Are you temporarily a solopreneur or do you have plans to stay that way? We want to know so please share below in the Comments!