9 lessons I learned as a solopreneur
While I was growing up, I had all sorts of ideas of what I wanted to do. My future career involved being a teacher, a private investigator (totally inspired by the show Moonlighting… anyone remember it?), a doctor who’s also going to run a florist shop on the side, a lawyer, and a whole slew of other occupations that seemed interesting to me.
As I grew older, somehow all those dreams died and I started to settle into the idea of going to college, finding a job, and working for someone else. That plan didn’t work out and instead, I started my own business.
Being your own boss and running a business is great. You don't have to deal with the commute, you don't have to worry about putting on makeup or dressing up fancy.
But, being a solopreneur is not necessarily rainbows and sunshine every day. There are good days and bad days. There are even roadblocks so big that you wonder why on earth you ever thought this was a good idea and make you want to curl up in a corner and cry. Despite that, being your own boss is one of the best things in life ever, right up there with chocolate and kittens.
I have been running my business for almost 7 years now as a solopreneur. In those 7 years, I overcame some major roadblocks and learned a lesson or two. I’m sharing my experience today, in the hopes of helping anyone who is thinking about following in the same footsteps and starting their own business.
1. Find a balance between work and personal life
For me, this was one of the toughest areas. I foolishly believed I can juggle it all without having a dedicated schedule or a to-do list.
I was wrong. Boy, was I wrong.
I learned that I have to stop multi-tasking and separate my work and personal life, or my work hours seemed never-ending and my personal life was put on the back-burner. Once I set up a dedicated area for my home office, created a schedule, and started using a to-do list, things got better.
2. Being a solopreneur can often feel lonely
If you’re a solopreneur and especially if your business doesn’t require a lot of human interaction, you might feel lonely after a while. You spend most of your days at home, and most of your communication happens via emails. While that still counts as “communication” it cannot truly replace real face-to-face interaction.
However, there are ways to counter that. One of the easiest ways to battle it is to set one day aside when you actually replace your home office with a coffee shop nearby. You can also sign up for various networking and meetup events in your city/town or schedule face-to-face meetings with your clients when possible.
3. There will be times when you will feel guilty
This was another big issue for me. While I was still in the beginning stages of my newly launched business, trying to juggle it all and failing, I often felt like I was neglecting my family. And that only added to my stress. Not having the balance was eating me and the guilt was overwhelming. However, once I learned to better manage my time and created a dedicated schedule, the guilt slowly diminished.
My family knew what my working hours were and that after work, I will have time for them.
While the whole idea of working at home very often involves having more time for the family, work needs to be on the priority list, too. The long and the short of this reality is that sometimes you will feel guilty for not being there for your significant other or your kids.
4. Background noise is a fact of life
Let’s face it, most of us are working from home most of the time. And that means, that sometimes, there will be noises that are usually associated with home life. Whether you have kids running around or neighbors with dogs who like to bark right when you’re in the zone and filming a Youtube video… background noise can and will happen.
Needless to say, talking on the phone to a client while a child has a fit or a dog barks loudly in the background just doesn’t “sound” as professional as many would like.
That’s why it’s important to set an area in your home as a designated home office where you can shut the door and have some quiet time while you’re working. Unfortunately, your home office will only be effective when it comes to eliminating your household noise. Neighborhood dogs will still get through 🤷🏼♀️.
5. You will be tempted to work all the time
The danger of working at home often lies in not being able to “leave” work at the end of the day. While this might be great for the business, beware of the great, big burn out. Burning out can happen if you work around the clock and fail to unwind, relax and breathe once in a while.
6. Take a few minutes extra to dress for success
While it is certainly nice to be able to roll out of bed in the morning and “report” to the office, this can be a double-edged sword. It is all too easy to still be sitting in that bathrobe at 6 p.m. on an ordinary Tuesday. And babe, let me tell you if you are always in your robe, you’ll start to feel frumpy. And then, everything else spirals from there and you turn into a hot mess.
7. Winging ain’t cutting it
As you’re starting out, it’s perfectly normal not to have all your ducks in order. But as you start to work with more clients, take some time to define your processes and create systems.
Now this doesn’t mean you have to have 500-page manual that describes all of your processes and complicated systems that require a month to get a handle on, but you do need a way to simplify and automate the boring parts of your business so you can focus on spending the most of your time on activities that will actually move the needle in your business.
8. Be prepared to wear a lot of hats
And I don’t mean cute and fashionable hats. I mean be prepared to do everything in the beginning. Not only do you have to do the thing you’re good at, but you are also in charge of marketing, accounting, admin tasks, customer support…. And that’s only the beginning.
The good news? As you grow, you can outsource most of these tasks, hire someone to help you out or automate them so you can get back to doing what you truly love.
9. Learn to love batch days
This lesson has to do with the previous one. Given you have to wear a lot of hats, do yourself a favor and learn to love batch days. In essence, batch days are days when you do all the things that are somehow connected.
For example, Fridays are usually my admin days. On Fridays, I don’t do any client work and I don’t have any meetings or calls. It’s when I take care of any admin-related tasks such as file various documents in their proper folders, update my income or stats sheets, check in on my goals, and similar.
The idea behind batch days is that you will be able to achieve more because you’re not going from task to task and there is no mental switch. You’re in the zone and prepared to do nothing but admin tasks which means you’re laser-focused. And we all know what happens when you’re laser-focused.
And there you have it. Those are my 9 lessons I learned by being a solopreneur. It does require a lot of dedication, discipline, and patience. It’s not for everyone, and that is perfectly okay. While the pitfalls of running your own business are very real, there are ways to face them and win. Most importantly, no matter the challenge, having a good plan in place will make a world of difference.
I hope these lessons help you out if you’re just getting started with your entrepreneurial journey. And if you want to know the secret to attracting your dream clients, be sure to take my free Brand Personality Quiz!