There is a lot of Stress, but also Control
While there is a lot of stress that comes with being a solopreneur, there’s also a lot of control. As a solopreneur you have 100 percent control over what to put out there in terms of your business branding, who you work with and what projects you take on. It also allows you to take more risks than your normally would, since there is no one to scold you if an idea doesn’t work out the way you thought. Those who enjoy the absolute direct link between your effort and your reward will enjoy being a solopreneur. The sense of control makes long or odd hours worth it because it is completely your choice and your decision.
Many people love having flexibility when it comes to what their company is doing. You can work in sprints and often find that, without the endless meetings of corporate life, you can work when you are at your most productive state and stop working when you have used up all of your mental energy. Being a solopreneur allows for more concentration so you can fit much more productivity into fewer hours.
Pivoting ultimately becomes a matter of opportunity and nothing else. So pivot as much as you can before you get too big. It’s much easier to find your niche before you have to drag a bunch of company weight with you.
Being Alone Doesn’t Have to be Lonely
One thing many are warned about when wanting to become a solopreneur is the sense of isolation, whether it be just feeling lonely from being by yourself all day or missing the feeling of being a part of a team and having others around to bounce ideas off with. While this can be great for those who consider themselves introverts and enjoy spending time with family and friends during non-working hours, there’s other ways to not feel so alone as well. You can proactively schedule regular one-on-one in-person networking meetings or lunches with professional contacts (new or existing) once or twice per week and attend formal or informal events at least once a month.
It Still Takes a Village
One challenge about identifying as a solopreneur is that it still takes a village. It is challenging to learn how to stay current and fresh in your field of expertise and also continue your professional development. Attending local events, as well as professional conferences, should be carefully chosen so you can receive a big boost of not only creative energy and inspiration, but also technical and specialized learning.
Also, don’t take having access to the vast resources of a corporate employer who really invested in people development for granted, as they included regular training programs and access to best-in-class experts in a variety of fields. As a solopreneur you will need to nurture your own informal expert network to help fill that need: People you can use as sounding boards, subject matter experts, and mentors—a list as varied as previous bosses and colleagues, friends from college, and even an author/artist/life coach. These will be your most valuable resources.
Another powerful resource it is important to rely on is your professional network—the collection of all your previous peers, team members and managers who also left your previous corporate employer to work for new corporations, agencies or even start their own businesses. Often times, your first clients will come from these contacts, but also the majority of your project list can be traced back, either directly or through referrals, to this professional network. Consulting is indeed a relationship business, and you will be glad you developed those relationships before making the leap to your own business.
Sense of Accomplishment
When you’re a solopreneur, having a sense of accomplishment is even better. While you may not be receiving awards and end-of-year bonuses from some higher-up boss, it’s still rewarding to know you created something from scratch and you are now your own boss. Many of the possible downsides of being a solopreneur can be counteracted with this sense of accomplishment.
Remember to Ask
The final lesson to learn is to ask for help. It’s amazing how far you can get by simply asking, whether it be for the introduction, for help, for information, asking to meet, or even asking for the business. As the expression goes, “The worst they can say is no,” and you’ll be amazed by how often people will say yes.
Most people genuinely want to help, especially those who are starting out or starting over. You’ll be amazed by the graciousness of both close and casual contacts—and even contacts-of-a-contact—in giving their time, guidance, feedback and facilitating introductions. It is important to also pay it forward as well by sharing your time and advice with others from your network, as well as mentoring in your local startup community.