If you’re a sole proprietor, you’ll appreciate these empowering tips for solopreneurs. But even if you have a team working with you, these tips are relevant to your entrepreneurship journey.
In a recent Forbes article, “Council Post: Lessons From a Soloentreprenuer,” CEO Greg Mercer shared some lessons he learned as the founder of Jungle Scout. He laid out four tenents that helped him get through the trials of being a solopreneur.
“What are the best ways to spend my days?
Tackle one thing at a time.
Keep progress in perspective.
Build a support system.”
I thought they were very empowering tips for solopreneurs and decided to extrapolate on them in this article.
Are You a Solopreneur or an Entrepreneur?
- You’re a solopreneur if you founded and operate your business independently.
- You have no employees and opened your business solo—no partners.
- You are solely responsible for producing and delivering the service or product you are marketing.
- Whereas an entrepreneur builds a team, you outsource to freelancers and contractors to help you accomplish your tasks.
Sole proprietors focus on building their brand, creating a reliable customer base, and keeping their business profitable. Expansion is not on the immediate horizon, but this doesn’t mean it can’t happen. Many solopreneurs go on to become entrepreneurs, operating global businesses.
Is Now a Good Time to Launch a New Start?
According to Fundz.net, of the more than 30 million small businesses in the U.S., almost 73% are operated by sole proprietors. Data from 2019 indicated that solopreneurs contributed more than $1.3 trillion to the U.S. economy.
The pandemic seems to have played a pivotal role in growing entrepreneurship. According to the Peterson Institute for International Economics, roughly 4.4 million new businesses were opened last year. There’s no definitive study yet on how the pandemic influenced this growth in entrepreneurship. But, as our social, work and educational lives became more digitized, we learned that we could accomplish most things virtually. This might explain why 62% of Gen Zers say they plan to start a business, compared to 50% of millennials. Digitization is their “normal.” Having been exposed to social media all their lives, they have a better idea of how to brand themselves and compete in the online marketplace.
When Is the Right Time to Quit Your Day Job and Put 100% Into Your New Business?
Many solopreneurs are not running their businesses full-time. They’re moving cautiously until there’s enough cash flow to put full-time effort into the new company. Fundz.net suggests that this degree of cautiousness could be one reason why sole proprietors succeed.
Before going forward, you must create a concrete operating budget and realistic cash flow projections. You need sufficient money set aside to support you for 12-18 months until your new business begins to earn revenue. Most small businesses require two to three years before they become profitable. As a solopreneur, you might be able to move this clock forward since your operating costs will be much lower. More of your revenue will go to profit.
In a previous article, we provided some tips on how to finance your small business.
If you can’t afford it yet, leave it on your bucket list.
4 Empowering Tips for Solopreneurs: How to Stay Sane and Happy
What is the Best Way to Spend My Days?
Mercer says that
“Knowing how I wanted to spend my days gave me something priceless: freedom. I felt more energized because I was solving problems I found interesting and challenging.”
You need passion to make it through the challenges of being a solopreneur. The day-to-day management of a small business can grind on you. You have to deal with suppliers, customers, and your accountant. You can get through all of these if you love what you’re doing.
Finding a niche is essential, as well as knowing how you will differentiate yourself from the crowd. But, Mercer’s advice is that not only should your niche be in an area where you have developed expertise. It should also be in a vertical that excites you because you’re utilizing your creative energy, doing what you love to do, and making a living at it.
I would add, that your niche should not only be something you love but something that you’re ready to produce or offer repeatedly. Let’s say you love flowers and you gained the skills to be a successful florist. You did your research, and there’s room in the market for another florist. Plus, you’ve figured out how to differentiate yourself from your competitor. Are you ready to create floral displays over and over every day? Do you see yourself loving the time you invest in each floral creation like the love you had on the first day?
2. Tackle One Thing at a Time
Be clear about your mission and goals.
It’s easy to suffer from mission creep. This happens when you chase after every great-sounding opportunity that comes your way. Before jumping in, ask yourself if this opportunity helps you reach your goals and fulfills your business purpose.
Multitasking is a myth.
This is one of my top empowering tips for solopreneurs. Today, we’ve become accustomed to using multiple digital devices at the same time. But, studies prove that multitasking causes us to commit more errors and become less efficient.
Neuropsychologist Cynthia Kubu, Ph.D., says that we’re actually task-switching even though we think we’re multitasking. What we’re doing is completing a series of tasks in rapid succession.
Our brains can only focus on one task at a time. We’re kidding ourselves if we think otherwise. By dividing our attention, we limit the amount of strategic thinking we can apply to a task. The American Psychological Association reports that shifting between tasks creates brief mental blocks that cost as much as 40% in productivity.
3. Keep Progress in Perspective
This is one of the biggest empowering tips for solopreneurs. There will be ups and downs. Even within a single day, you’ll have highs and lows. The morning can be superb, yet you end the day with a seeming disaster. Or the reverse. But, even that “perceived disaster” could be a blessing.
You may not reach your projections according to the timetable you set. It’s essential to understand why but not dwell on the delay. Celebrate small successes.
According to all data, it takes on average two years until a new business is taken seriously. Of course, this is influenced by your niche. If you’ve developed the next technology platform that will disrupt the planet, you’ll get noticed sooner. And funded more quickly too.
4. Take Care of Your Health
I’ve changed empowering tips for solopreneurs #4 to “take care of your health.” Mercer spoke about the importance of a support system to help protect your emotional health. Running your own business as a solopreneur can be stressful and lonely. Even more so, countless hours of work combined with financial stress and fears of failure can harm your physical and emotional health. Stay connected to friends, family, and colleagues. There are many online and in-person entrepreneurial communities. Take advantage of them or create one. Don’t isolate yourself.
Be clear about your workday, no matter how much there is still to do.
Yes, you still have client expectations, calls to make, emails to send or answer, plus the actual labor of delivering your service or product. But, draw a line and end your day.
Burnout will only serve to weaken your motivation and ability to make critical decisions for your future.
Get up and move.
Research studies find that the top 10% of productive employees work 52 minutes before taking a 17-minute break. And while you’re moving, be sure you’re not also answering emails or reading your social media feeds. Take a complete break from your work. A short nap is good, meditating, yoga, or a walk around the block.
Delegate and outsource.
As discussed above, what distinguishes you as a solopreneur is that you don’t have employees. But this doesn’t mean you don’t hire contractors and freelancers. For instance, outsource website design, digital marketing, bookkeeping, and other tasks that keep you from focusing on what you need to do to make your business profitable. You’ll avoid burnout and have more creative energy to infuse into your business.
Being a sole proprietor provides you with many freedoms, chiefly that you get to turn your experience and love into a successful small business. Hopefully, these empowering tips for solopreneurs will help you reach your goals in a healthy and happy way.
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