Setting yourself up for success as a solo entrepreneur
Ok so let’s start out by sharing the good news that being a solo entrepreneur doesn’t mean you’re destined for a life of solitude and a feeling that you’re all alone in the race for success. A lot of people worry about starting their own business and going solo, but in essence, there’s no hard and fast rule to say you have to feel totally isolated by it.
Yes, there may be tough moments when you need to make big decisions yourself and work hours that socially may not conform to a set standard, however as the old saying goes “it’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.”
Choosing to be a solo entrepreneur is an exciting decision and one which many people choose to take. Don’t buy into the old school way of thinking that you absolutely 100% need co-founders to get something off the ground. For every person's pros, there are an equal number cons and vice versa.
Ultimately it’s all about addressing your own comfort around decision making, compromise, workload, and 100 other variables in running a business. There is no one size fits all model where you have to conform to a certain stereotype of being a solo entrepreneur and only you can figure out whether it’s right for you.
But the best advice we can give is to really look deeply at yourself, circumstances, and your ultimate goal before starting a new solo business and get an idea of whether it’s the right decision for you yourself personally.
Not everyone needs to set expectations of themselves to be the next Elon Musk. So if your future enterprise is more akin to running a local dog-walking service or teaching yoga instead of a multi-billion electric car enterprise then you should feel comfortable that you have the flexibility to start slowly, building a business that suits your lifestyle and can grow as and when you want it to.
Create a plan, goals and routines to help you win
If you’ve decided that the solo entrepreneur life is the one for you, the most important thing you can do is to start by building out a successful routine of where and when you do your best work.
It’s no mistake that the most successful entrepreneurs have great morning routines that set them up for the day. By building out a regular routine with a strong working pattern for the rest of the day, you’ll be able to avoid drift by telling yourself when you should turn up and when you should rest.
Look at all your current responsibilities and once you have a good indication of how many hours you have in your potential working week, you can plan your new schedule accordingly.
Start by filling in time for admin, emails, business development, deep work, or amazingly time for actually doing the work! Don’t get dragged down in worrying if you have time to do everything involved in running a business. Set the time for specific tasks and know that you have these short bursts to handle laser focussed areas that need prioritising.
Strong goals, solid plans, and realistic routines all add up to a successful startup. Adapt them as and when needed, but never get into a state where inertia kicks in and you have to wonder where and what you should be doing with your day.
In essence, it’s true that “ you really are what you do.” So make sure you plan well and reap the benefits!
Well connected people have a greater chance of success
In today’s hyper-connected world, there’s probably never been a better time to set up a solo enterprise. The barriers to entry are super low in terms of start-up costs, accessible customer base, and being able to connect to fellow knowledgeable entrepreneurs in a similar space. However, in a world of abundance and too much information, finding relevant support and advice can be surprisingly difficult to come by.
Our best advice would be to look at this twofold in making sure you’re thinking on a local and global basis.
On a local level, make sure you research what’s in your neighbourhood and join entrepreneur groups, business programs, or accountability groups being run in your area. If there are opportunities to bring in a mentor and gain advice from industry experts then snap it up. Of course, have a look into quite how relevant they are for you, but even if you’re meeting up for a coffee with fellow local business people each month, it’s still a great support network to keep you motivated and on track.
On a global level, you can now likely find fellow entrepreneurs who are operating in your exact area all over the world. Whether it’s lifestyle, food, health, services, sports, or anything else you make, sell, or offer — fellow entrepreneurs are out there to share their experiences with you. Connect to them across social media, read online articles, and join community groups to help you develop best practices and learn from their wins, mistakes, and experiments.
Embrace global connectivity, but don’t forget the power of taking time out for real-world conversations. You’ll thank yourself if you come up with a great new business idea after chatting with someone in a completely different sector.
Embrace frugality and balance the books
As mentioned earlier, it’s super important to take things at your own pace! There are no prizes for burning yourself out, your business out, your limited cash reserves, and ultimately your enthusiasm for the task at hand.
Success for you is going to be building a solid business with good strong foundations. Make this happen by developing a great service, a professional website, and/or social presence and keeping your hand firmly on the incomings and outgoings. Embrace frugality, get excited about saving those dollars and cents!
The longer you can make your limited budget last, the longer you’ll have to establish your business and grow that customer base. It’s no coincidence that so many startups crash and burn in the first couple of years, mainly due to being undercapitalised or not yet getting to break even.
The longer you have to establish your business, the more time you’ll have to generate repeat revenue and word of mouth referrals for new clients. Bottom line, think, and act frugally and you’ll start yourself on the right footing for the long term.
Need a new computer? Can you give yourself 6 months with your old one to see where your business is at before making a big outlay on a pimped up MacBook?
Need to buy that email software? Is there a cheaper open-source software solution available that will do just the same job and not penalise you as you grow?
Need that new business book? Is there a video on youtube that covers the basics? If you’ve exhausted all the free articles out there then maybe you can buy the book once you feel it’s critical.
Our golden rule is to really think about how hard you’ve worked to earn each dollar for your business. You should think twice as hard before you spend that hard-earned dollar otherwise you’ll have a leaky bucket and will just be chasing your own tail in the race for a healthy business bank balance.
Yes, you will need to spend money to make money. But spend smarter, spend wiser, get into the habit of only spending $1 if it’s going to make you $2, $3, or $4 each time.
Using the best business tools and software
Whether it’s outsourcing parts of your business or using software for specific tasks, make sure you’re fully aware of all the latest and greatest free software solutions.
Ok, so we all know about Gmail but are you optimising it in a professional way so as it’s set up to be your official business email address? Are you aware of the sheer power that G Suite can bring your business and the types of tools on offer? Are you staying on top of current trends and maximising new features that can cut down on your admin?
It’s always worth getting into the habit of googling alternative software solutions than the specific software you’re potentially about to enter your credit card details into. Read the reviews, do some digging and look at what suits you now, not in the future and use this.
If you do find your business needing to upgrade to the gold standard of software then you’ll usually find each premium service has an ‘import/switch’ function which means you can migrate over with ease.
Stay lean, stay mean, and learn to do much more with less.
Look after your body and mind
Probably one of the main reasons you’ve decided to become a solo entrepreneur is because you’ve come to a life decision that whatever you were doing before just wasn't working for you.
Whether you’ve quit your job, been made redundant, are following your passions, or just feel taking control of your own destiny is the right thing for you, becoming a solo entrepreneur is an employment choice that is becoming more and more popular all over the globe.
The absolute number one thing you must not forget to do though is to look after your mind and body. After all, you’ve also likely started your own enterprise so as you can have a greater quality of life, so there’s no reason at all for you letting your health slip in the race to prove yourself as a businessperson.
Going back to scheduling, make sure you set time for your health, fitness, family, and passions. Build a schedule around these so as you can work hard but play even harder.
A daily meditation routine or some time out in nature is a great way to recharge your batteries. A daily exercise schedule, gym session, or some stretching such as yoga is also going to stand you in good stead and ground you well for any potholes in the road that may come up when running your business each day.
And don’t forget your family and friends. It’s easy to let communication slip as the days turn into weeks and weeks into months, however, it’s another thing you can schedule if you feel catching up for coffee or speaking on zoom has recently come to a sudden halt.
Sometimes the best thing you can do for your business is to 100% leave it alone for a few hours or the weekend. You’ll come back refreshed, recharged, and ready to go again, knowing that you’re winning in the race for a perfect work/life balance.
Back yourself as a solo entrepreneur
At the end of the day, no matter what your solo entrepreneur business journey is like, you’ll have good days and bad days on what can sometimes feel like the startup rollercoaster. Make yourself aware of this and you’ll find yourself catching bad days early on, as well as turning the average days into good days.
Start each day by reaffirming to yourself why you’re running your business and if you’re not happy with certain aspects then correct course and make improvements.
There are many benefits to being a solo entrepreneur, not least the fact that ultimately the buck stops at you. However with freedom of decision, comes the responsibility to make the right choices, make the right calls, and to keep it all together.
Start your day by saying “I’ve got this” and you’ll learn to take everything that comes your way firmly in your stride!
Until next time…keep winning
If you like what you've read here, have your own success story, or want to join the conversation around entrepreneurship then hit me up on Twitter or check out our YouTube channel - I'm always around!
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