Now that you’ve struck out on your own, your problems are solved. You are in total control. You make all the decisions, you curb all unnecessary spending, and you answer to no one other than your customers. At least within the realm of your business, you are all-powerful.
There’s a lot to be said about working on your own, but you’ll probably discover that solopreneur businesses face their own unique challenges. It’s time to recognize some of the potential challenges — and how to reduce or avoid them.
One Person is … Well … Only One Person
Operating a one-person business can provide an unparalleled feeling of independence, but it has some obvious drawbacks, such as the following:
- There are only so many hours in a day: How much can one person do within a 24-hour period (even assuming that you don’t sleep at all)?
- You’re only human: Heaven forbid that you catch a nasty bout of the flu or must handle a personal emergency that takes you away from your work.
- Paperwork is a necessary evil: There is no way to avoid the countless administrative activities that eat away at productivity — and profits.
- Working at a customer site reduces your availability to others: On-site consultants, for example, have to focus on one specific client’s work at a time and cannot be distracted with other client issues.
- You do not excel at all aspects of business: Sorry to tell you this: you may be the most expert person in your industry, but that doesn’t mean that you know marketing, finance, accounting, and, and, and…
Good news: this is the age of technology. There are often countless ways to do more without a full staff behind you. If you need to travel, then check out our STARTicle, Seven Simple Steps Toward a Paperless Office, which provides technological ways to become accessible and reach out no matter where you are. Since you also have to count on software to make daily activities quick and easy, one of the Comparison Charts (found in the top dropdown on our home page) can help make selection easier.
Also, don’t forget that you can get human assistance without actually hiring anyone. The right virtual assistant is just one example of someone who can provide as much or as little help that you need to resolve your issues. The more work that you can delegate to others, the more time you have to focus on the money-making activities that you do best. As long as you pay less money to pass on the minutia than you earn from the hours you save, then maybe it’s time to avoid the do-it-yourself mentality.
Solopreneurs Face a Natural Vacuum
You may be very comfortable in your own shoes, but no solopreneur is an island. You need other people to thwart vacuum issues like the following:
Solopreneurs generally have the luxury of controlling their environments. When you really have to concentrate, uninterrupted peace and quiet can really make a difference … until the silence starts to drive you a bit crazy.
The solution may be as simple as going out to lunch with friends. But if you need people nearby on a regular basis, there’s a good option available. Personally, I’m not a big fan of risking security by taking your computer to a coffee shop. However, a co-working facility on a full- or part-time basis may provide a number of benefits, including the personal connections that you need.
Solving Problems and Generating Ideas
One of the biggest vacuums often exists within your own brain. Whether you can’t figure out how to resolve a problem or you’re flush out of new product or service ideas, you need someone other than the face in your mirror to help fill the void.
I’ve already presented the idea of how a Virtual CFO can help you to make sound business decisions, but you need at least a kernel of an idea before financial advice makes sense. It probably helps more to discuss your concerns with former co-workers or others in your industry — any knowledgeable people who will not abscond with your valuable ideas.
Unknowledgeable family members and friends (like the new ones in your co-working facility) can also be surprisingly helpful. In some cases, you can unlock your own solutions simply by stating your concerns out loud to another person who has a minimal understanding at best.
Staying Connected with Your Industry
Trade journals are great for keeping up with outside developments within your industry, but to really see how businesses are handling new issues, you need to talk to actual people. A search for professional organizations in [your location here] is the first step in connecting to other business professionals like you.
Go to meetings, listen to informative presentations (sorry, but webinars won’t work very well for these purposes), and chat with other attendees at every opportunity. The rubber chicken that you may have to consume will be a small price to pay for the information that you get from this experience. Bring plenty of business cards. You may even find a new business partner or make a life-long friend.
Solopreneurs Don’t Have to be Alone
Just because you don’t work in the din of a heavily-populated workplace, you’re not in solitary confinement, either. Solopreneurs have more control over their environments, and that includes human interaction.
At some point, you may need to hire people who will help your business grow. But, until that time, develop and turn to a personal and professional network for support and unique perspectives. Even after you hire your 100th brilliant employee, that network will continue to serve you well.