Word on the street is that “solopreneurship” is not yet everybody’s favorite word, but there is definitely an uprising happening from North America to Europe and Asia. Growing in popularity as a way of living, a new business model and a change of scenery in the lives of both young and old, solopreneurship is inviting to anyone with a sense of responsibility, courage, and innovation. Let’s take a journey into the five most pressing matters that solopreneurs face today, and possible solutions for them.
Issue #1: Networking And Connecting
Similar to the case of freelancers, solopreneurs often find themselves brainstorming in the mirror with their own reflections. For these lone wolves, networking and connecting with likeminded people is important. With no colleagues or employees, the solopreneur must wear multiple hats and analyze from different angles, providing real solutions in order to achieve business growth. In this case, saying “two minds are better than one” may not apply, however this doesn’t mean end of the world either.
Solution: Social events, community gatherings, and co-working spaces have emerged as a way to provide solopreneurs with what’s missing in their lives: belonging to a group, a community, being part of a team, socializing, and exchanging value.
Issue #2: Selling Services Or Talent vs. Selling Your Own Product
Another pressing matter that a solopreneur must contend with is whether to build a business that relies solely on selling services versus having your own product. It’s not easy to identify which works best and there is no real guarantee for success in either. In the article Winning in the Aftermarket, authors say that the downside of the “own product” business model seems to be the “after-sale service.” To put it simply, customers don’t expect perfect products, but they do expect a rapid fixing or upgrade. This is tricky for a one-man show. On the other side, selling services or selling talent isn’t ideal either. Let’s be honest, it’s tough to identify the ideal client.
Solution: In the case of selling services or talent, there’s a limit to how much the web can spread. Ideally, a solopreneur should select and work only with clients who are the best matches. A great working relationship and business development, great financial growth, trust, and communication are some of the most valuable assets in this type of business model. With selling your own product, the best scenario is having a community, a marketing vision, and a sales mission that align with your voice and personal brand.
Issue #3: Lifestyle Management
The ultimate challenge is to manage your own lifestyle as a solopreneur. Truth to be told, nobody wants to become a workaholic, however doing everything on your own can trap you in a never-ending circle of more work and less fun. You might end up working 24/7 with no break, no day off, no holidays. The lifestyle you work so hard to build can turn against you, and this is not something you want.
Solution: Respect your day(s) off. A weekend doesn’t necessarily have to mean Saturday and Sunday, it can be Friday and Monday or any other day of the week. Do make sure you rest at least one day for every six work days. Wake up at approximately the same time every day, work out at least one hour a day. If you work two hours straight, take 30 minutes off. Eat at least two healthy nutritious meals a day. Drink plenty of tea and natural juices. Go out twice a week. Talk to family and friends every two days to stay connected. Go on dates if you’re single, just for the fun of it. Don’t isolate yourself too much. And the most important rule I follow: don’t say “no” when a friend asks you out for coffee.
Issue #4: Work Life Management
Is your mind all over the place? Is your productivity failing? Losing the passion and energy in what you’re doing? Welcome to the most common issue of a solopreneur. With a restless mind, an inbox filled with emails, and a to-do list the size of the Great Wall of China, how often do you find yourself wishing the day had more than 24 hours? This infographic by Clipix points out on some of the toxic ways we spend our time, as well as the habits of any well-organized individual out there:
Solution: Become more organized with a project management tool, an organizational tool, and a good old checklist. Manage your time by applying Brian Tracy’s Eat That Frog approach: start your workday with the things you like less and end it with the things you like most.
Issue #5: Turning Off The Noise In Your Head
How do you manage a brain that works 24/7? Being the leader in your own business comes with a lot of background noise. So how do you turn it off? How do you leap from past mistakes to enjoy more of the present and concern yourself less with the future? If only there was a switch.
Solopreneurship might seem easier since you have no employees and, therefore, no responsibility towards them. However, you do have responsibility towards yourself. Your wins, your losses. And the pressure can be overwhelming sometimes, causing anxiety, stress, or even depression. A strong mind is clearly required to overcome the traps our own mind sets.
Solution: It’s all about having enough “me” time. It isn’t easy to turn off the noise, but it becomes easier with time, with practice and loyalty towards yourself. Start by spending 10 minutes per day in silence. Research shows you actually become smarter just by allowing yourself a break from the thoughts stream. Practice mindfulness on a daily basis: this means becoming aware of the present, of the moment. Carpe diem! Check out my other recommendations here.
Where To Go From Here?
Review your work and personal life in the next month. Take notes on what you do on a daily basis. Identify what is missing or lacking, as well as the areas that can use improvement. Lessen the tension in segments of your life that drain your energy and place that energy into areas where it can make a difference. Embrace and follow advice from friends and people who are well-intended. Put it all down on paper and start applying the transformations, one day at a time, one step at a time. It can take up to 60 days to transform a lifestyle, but it is well worth the challenge.
Featured photo credit: Conal Ghallager via flickr.com