What is a Solopreneur?
A solopreneur is a business owner who works and runs their business by themselves. It is not a new term for this particular breed of entrepreneur but it is growing in use as there are more and more who identify themselves as belonging to this part of the work force.
They are the proverbial head chef and dish washer. The jack-of-all in their own business, which they start, run, and take full personal responsibly of in success or failure.
It is a high-risk, high reward venture and it is not for the faint of heart – or perhaps even the sensible.
What makes a solopreneur different from an entrepreneur is that they are going it alone for the long haul. An entrepreneur, conversely, starts alone or with a partner and builds a team around them.
Whilst the entrepreneur has a more traditional set up of employee/employer, this doesn’t mean that the solopreneur has no help or anyone doing work for them whatsoever. They engage in contract agreements and use outsourcing. They have to be smart in the way that they do this, automating and streamlining process as much as possible to free themselves up to do the more important work.
But solopreneurs are not limitless. While they enjoy their work immensely and often set impossibly demanding schedules for themselves, they can work too much and for too long, which invariably leads to burnout. This can be hard when starting out, not entirely sure of what your limits are and pushing against them while dangling off a cliff above burnout central.
But it is that drive, that need to be independent and taking their own working-life fate entirely into their own hands that makes them so unique, in a good way, and go it alone. To follow their vision, without answering to a board or having to explain themselves to their team, adding value and creating things that make this world better, is really an inspiring thing.
But all of that requires an awful lot of energy.
Keeping the Energy Alive
When you are going at your dream alone, there are some things that will invariable happen. Carrying the weight of your ambition across the track towards the finishing line takes a lot of energy. And, because you are in this alone, if you are running low on energy, there will be no one to carry you over the finish line – let alone get you closer to it – when you are flagging.
Here are some things that can be done to help keep going.
For the days that you just don’t feel like working for whatever reason, a personal or family matter crops up, which forces you to throw your schedule out for the time being. For those kinds of days, you need to work ahead.
Work ahead of your deadlines, agree with clients at least 10% more time than what you think you will need for a project. Room to breathe lets you factor in for project hiccups as well as personal matters. Keeping your projects ahead of schedule helps keep your stress down, your energy up, and keeps your clients happy with timely work as agreed.
Plus, you get to “work for yourself” in the truest sense of the phrase.
Have Some Buffer
While there are things that come up that can eat into your time, you may have to turn away unsavoury clients who are too difficult to be worth your time and effort. It is important to be wary of clients that you will not gel with, and give yourself some buffer so that it is okay to turn them away.
Having 3 – 6 months (more is always better but 3 is a good place to start) emergency cash funds set aside for when times like this arise will ease the decision to say “no”. Don’t be afraid to turn someone away that you can’t work with – you are just making sure you are available for the clients who you can work well with.
And you and your business can keep ticking over, maintaining your energy and enthusiasm without the impeding stresses that come with being strapped for cash.
Self Care is not Optional
While you are busy looking after your business, your clients, your audience, or whomever, who is looking after you? That’s right, the only person who can do that is also… you.
Keeping yourself healthy is key to staying productive and ultimately is the most fundamental investment you can make in your business. As a solopreneur, you are your business and your brand, so if you want to keep it doing well, it is paramount that you take the time to look after yourself.
Exercise not only keeps your body healthy, it also stimulates your brain and helps boost your productivity. So, before you begin for the day, or at some point that is best for you, make sure to take time out for a walk or even a full workout. Overtime, you’ll have more energy and stamina in general.
Eating healthy, in taking the good calories and not just the right amount of them, will help keep your body healthy. When your body is healthy, you can do more, your brain will function better and you will have great energy.
Better sleep is also important. Sleep, especially sleeping at the right times, can do so many good things for you. Your body heals itself, produces leptin hormones which helps control your hunger levels (making eating healthy easier) and maximises your focus – there are even reports that it can lower blood pressure. Try to sleep before midnight if possible and wake at the same time every day.
While these are all good things to take care of yourself, know that results are highly unlikely to be immediate, as your body will need time to adjust. Then – your body heaving a sigh of relief – you will have more energy, alertness and stamina for each day that comes your way.
So as a solopreneur, you do tend to feel that you have to do everything yourself. And while this is okay and a known trait of being a solopreneur, it is not something that should be done for an extended period of time.
Setting up automation and streamlining tasks is the only way that you are going to stay ahead of the game and free yourself up for doing the parts of the business that only you can do.
If you are doing something over and over again, and there is a clear pattern to it, chances are it is something you can delegate and outsource.
Take Time Off
No – time off? What is this foreign concept? Yes, even workaholic solopreneurs should allow themselves time off. Schedule it if you have to, but it is important to take breaks. This refreshes your mind and sharpens your focus when you return to your work.
Plus, there are other things in your life that you should dedicate some of your time to. Your friends and family, general house maintenance and upkeep are important as well. Maybe spark your curiosity and try something new.
It’s a great thing to do when you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed.