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10 Things Every Solopreneur Should Know To Be Successful

10 Things Every Solopreneur Should Know To Be Successful

When you are in the business of being in business for yourself, it can definitely get lonely at the top. As a solopreneur, you often have to set your own deadlines, motivate yourself, and light the fire under your own seat to get things done. How you measure success is subjective. Is it important to you to make a certain amount of money? To have time off to travel? To be able to balance homelife and work? To get yourself out there in the world and have an influence on people?

No matter how you define success, these 10 things are what make solopreneurs successful:

1. They know that money isn’t the main focus

When money is the focus, the big picture becomes lost. You are in business to provide a service, or to do something you love or feel passionate about. The money is what results from this. When solopreneurs make it solely about money, the passion gets lost.

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2. They get that being true to their brand is more important than selling out

Affiliating with companies that are not aligned with your values, will make your customers distrust you, and make them think you are selling them out, rather than creating relationships with them. Stay true to your brand. Focus your resources on expanding your message rather than diluting it with other people’s messages.

3. They know the value of their time

Successfull solopreneurs know that time is important. They are not afraid to charge what they are worth, and to say “no,” if something will take more time than it will be worth.

4. They are not afraid to try new things

Keeping on top of latest trends is important. Clinging to a software program, or a way of operating that is outdated keeps you behind. Forge ahead. Many programs offer things like free 14 or 30 day trials so you can test things out with no risk.

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5. They are consistent, no matter what

If a successful solopreneur says they are going to send out a weekly blog, they send out a weekly blog. They also keep their branding consistent on all platforms, by using the same colors, fonts, etc. to be easily identified.

6. They surround themselves with people who are smarter than them

They don’t think that they are so smart that they cannot learn anything. A know-it-all has no room to grow. Just when we think we know something, a new study comes out to debunk the previous theory. Challenge your brain by having conversations with people who are more versed and educated than you in areas that you know less about.

7. They know the power of collaboration

Cross-promotion, and partnering with others can expand your reach, and increase your credibility. Don’t try to stay all by yourself but be open for collaborations which will bring you forward.

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8. They make mistakes, and they keep going

Mistakes happen. Obsessing over them does not make them go away. When you make a mistake, take the time to clean it up, or rectify it as much as possible. Then, move on. Don’t let it stop you from taking action.

9. They remember to have fun along the way

All work and no play … well, you know how the saying goes. Staying focused and being productive is great, but if it is turning into too much “hard work,” it may be time to revisit your business. You should be enjoying your efforts along the way. If you are not, you can become burned out, and the type of business you are in may not be a good fit for you.

10. They celebrate their small victories, as a means of encouraging their big successes

When your eye is focused on a big goal, it can be easy to overstep the small victories that lead to success. Pat yourself on the back when you make that difficult phone call. One of my favorite examples has always been when brick and mortar business owners frame their first dollar bill they made from their business. Frame your own version of a dollar bill by celebrating your first twitter follower, your 100th email subscriber, and so on.

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Featured photo credit: Viktor Hanacek via picjumbo.com

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Bridget Baker

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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