Being a solopreneur comes with its own unique challenges. Not only are you running a business, you are running every aspect of your business, including sales, marketing, PR, invoicing, bookkeeping, and more. Plus, of course, you have a life outside your business, too. Or do you?
All too often, solopreneurs find themselves little free time to have a life because handling the details of their business consumes virtually all of their time. And the challenge of being too busy is usually built from smaller challenges. Handling these smaller challenges can help busy solopreneurs to achieve a better work pace, and in turn, a better life.
So, let’s examine some common challenges that solopreneurs face, and how to handle them. Just as eating an elephant is accomplished one bite at a time, taming the solopreneur business monster is accomplished by meeting one challenge at a time.
Slow growth is a problem almost every solopreneur faces at some time, and not just in the beginning. A way to promote growth is to partner with other solopreneurs or businesses in your niche. Collaborate on available projects as often as possible. This is often a great way to capture more business, as you are meeting new clients who may need your skills.
Also, invest time in networking with other solopreneurs or business owners in your industry. Many times, new leads or offers come through other business owners who need help, or have a client that needs something they cannot provide. Interacting with groups online is a profitable enterprise in this regard.
Another wise investment during slow times is to pursue new income streams. Every solopreneur needs multiple streams of income to support themselves. What can you produce or engage in that will provide another steady stream of income while you pursue your main business goals?
Solopreneurs choose to be solopreneurs because we think we can do it all. And sometimes we can. But often, we can’t. Being a solopreneur does not mean you must to everything yourself. It only means that you do not have other employees on a regular payroll, like yourself. Delegating some tasks to other part-time professionals is one of the wisest choices you will ever make. And yes, it can easily be worth the investment of money to procure and use them. No one is great at everything. Delegate tasks in your weak areas and focus on your strong areas.
Sometimes the help you need doesn’t have to be a paid professional. Often, someone close you to can handle important details that free you up to pursue bigger and more important tasks. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. More importantly, don’t be afraid to admit that you need help.
Losing Your “Why”
Solopreneurs can lose the “why” for their business. If we lose our “why,” we lose our way. Aimlessly plunging ahead without a direction or future goals is a sure way to crash your business. Remember why you started your solopreneur business in the first place. Go back often and visit your values and purpose, and let them guide the decisions you make for today and the future.
If you “why” is to make loads of money, fine. I’m not against making money as a driving “why” for your business. Just keep that before you at all times and measure everything you do with the question, “Will this make money?” For others it may be independence, or the freedom to be creative without restraints, or the ability to work from home and care for your kids.
Your “why” doesn’t matter to anyone else, but it should be at the top of the pile for you. Zero in on why you became a solopreneur and why you chose your particular business path. Remember the dream again and dare to dream even bigger. Your own personal “why” can provide the motivation you need to keep going when everything else says you shouldn’t.
First Things First
Along with learning to delegate tasks and get help when you need it comes the idea of prioritization. Your team of one must work by a list of priorities, or you will easily get bogged down in unnecessary things while the necessary get forgotten. Prioritize your to-do list, categorize things into those that are relevant or not relevant and urgent and not urgent. Those that are urgent and relevant come first.
Develop the discipline to stay focused on the important task at hand and not get distracted. Let the calls go to voicemail, answer emails at a set time or two each day, and bore in on each task one by one. Multitasking simply means doing many things at a mediocre level, and not your best. Prioritize your vital tasks and complete them one by one with a singular focus.
Technology and Tools
As a solopreneur, every task belongs to you. But realize that means seeing that it gets done; not necessarily doing it all yourself. Leverage technology like you would team members and invest in tools that will automate the mundane aspect of your business. Invest in an appointment booking tool, email automation tool, social media management tool, and a customer relationship management tool.
Learn to use these tools to their utmost potential, or even delegate these tasks to a willing helper or freelance paraprofessional. One digital assistant could possibly handle all these tools and tasks, and free up huge chunks of your time for better pursuits, or even more free time.
It’s easy for solopreneurs to feel isolated, disconnected, and out of touch. Get out and interact with other people in your industry. Go to industry events or conferences. Network with local business owners in your niche. Stay connected with them online, but nothing beats sitting across from a real person. A key strategy is to attend several live events in your industry every year. Choose events where you can learn something while networking and connecting with colleagues, clients, and industry influencers.
Working in the Same Zone
As a solopreneur, it can be too easy to become isolated when you work in the same environment every day. Find a new creative zone in a local coffee shop or restaurant. You’re your work to the park or local hangout. If you partner with another local solopreneur or business owner, go work at their place every once in a while. Working in a new zone can spark fresh ideas and relationships.
A popular new fad is co-working spaces. Locate one in your area and investigate the costs of sharing a working space with other professionals on a limited basis. The value in working in a new place with all it can bring, including new connections, can easily be worth the cost. Not to mention having a professional space on hand when you need to meet with clients.
Taking Care of YOU
You are doing it all, and that’s tough; maybe at this point in your solopreneur career it’s even necessary. But managing and doing everything is a sure path to burnout. Just as you prioritize tasks, set aside time for you just like you would any other vital task. Because it is vital. Get the rest you need. Eat well. Get out and have fun. Interact with people and enjoy new experiences and relationships. Step away from your business and enjoy life. You only get one chance to live it, so live it well!
What other challenges do you face as a solopreneur? Or do you have more suggestions for handling the challenges above? We’d love for you to share your thoughts with our readers in the comments below!