4 Struggles + Actionable Solutions for Solopreneurs
BY EMILY FARAONE
Being a solopreneur, someone who runs a business on their own comes with its challenges. Below I share just 4 aspects I have struggled with and how I am working on them.
Work for Me vs. Work for Clients
One of the biggest challenges I still face is balancing work for clients versus for my own business. As someone with people-pleasing tendencies, it is natural for me to focus solely on client work. I want to deliver to my clients promptly, and client work is exciting. It is a collaborative process that I enjoy, and it is gratifying to see the project progress.
However, investing time in my own company is essential for growth—tasks like website maintenance, managing finances, etc., need to be done. I can even slack on work I enjoy, like planning my own social media content, when I am in the midst of client projects. Can anyone else relate?
My solution is devoting days to Deerly. I typically spend Mondays and Fridays on Deerly. I’ll start Monday and end Friday catching up on client communication, but other than that, I’m focused on getting Deerly (and me!) in order. I have a list of tasks to refer to if I ever have the thought, “well, I don’t really have any Deerly work to do” or if I am up to date on day-to-day tasks. This list helps me avoid converting “Deerly time” to “client time.” Here is a preview of tasks on my list:
- clean up my desktop
- back-up files to an external hard drive
- organize email into folders
- check-in on goals progress
- watch a YouTube tutorial on a new skill
Being a solopreneur means working solo. Naturally, this can get lonely. For me, that is feeling is compounded as we are currently traveling and living in Airbnbs in cities where I don’t know many (if anyone). Fortunately, I have great clients that I get to collaborate with. However, it is hard not having co-workers to talk ideas through or to encourage you. There is no one else truly “in” it with you.
Networking groups have been a fantastic resource for me. They come in many forms. Even virtual ones! I can connect with people from all over, and it’s been special to have those friendships grow. A free place to start with networking groups is Facebook. You can search their groups for topics that relate to you. Courses will often also have a community component to them. Instagram is also a great platform for connection. Reach out to people in your industry doing cool things! You can easily find them through a hashtag. Need a solopreneur friend? Reach out to me! Even if we aren’t in the same industry, I’m happy to connect. We all deal with pricing, taxes, marketing our services, etc.
Coworking groups are also great! They can have more structure, like regularly scheduled time to connect. Make your own coworking group where you Zoom every Tuesday morning and chat over your morning coffee. It is a great way to start your day! Another way to feel some human connection is to work at a coffee shop. The change of scenery can be so refreshing. Getting out of your workspace and experiencing the world, whether walking around your neighborhood or even going grocery shopping, can be energizing after the time alone.
Reporting to Yourself
Honestly, not having a boss is weird. There is no one to set deadlines or make sure you are actually getting work done. Instead of thinking that I don’t have a boss, I find knowing that I am the boss is more effective. There are still deadlines and work to be completed, but I get to dictate that. With that freedom, I’ve learned that implementing more structure has been a game-changer for me. I do need structure to be more productive. That looks like giving myself the deadline or blocking off time to work on a task solely. I’ve made giving myself a deadline routine. For example, after receiving an assignment from a client, I predict how long it should take (add a little because it always takes longer), see where I can find that room in my schedule to complete it, and then give myself a reflective due date on my calendar.
Implementing structure only works if you stick to it. This can be hard when there’s no authority to report to. But remember, you are reporting to yourself–my future self that appreciates my current self’s work. I connect this to self-confidence. I believe that building confidence starts by keeping promises to yourself. The more you can practice being focused, timely, accountable, etc., the more you make it a habit and a reality. Creating and following through with a routine has taken some trial and error but has ultimately been successful.
I want to transition into something not so tangible but has translated into actions in my work. Mindset work has been a game-changer for me. As someone who experiences imposter syndrome, I find myself in disbelief that I’m running a business. Who let me do that? Something I have been working on is addressing my limiting beliefs.
“A limiting belief is a state of mind, conviction, or belief that you think to be true that limits you in some way.”
Limiting beliefs are often labels that we give ourselves. There can be comfort in designating what you are experiencing a name. Our mind likes to categorize. However, these labels can be limiting. My health coaching client permitted me to share her experience. My client had labeled herself as a “procrastinator.” She was sharing how she would put off work until right before it was due. She shared that she was still always able to get the work done, but being so close to a deadline was causing her stress. She had a habit of putting an assignment off until the point that she knew she must work on it to get it done on time. In a way, it was a self-fulfilling prophecy. She was a procrastinator, so she scheduled to complete the task right before they were do. Instead of having that thought, think, “I am capable of completing this task. I give myself plenty of time to complete tasks so that I am not stressed.” Then follow through actionably by scheduling the task earlier. It sounds simple, but our habits and thoughts become routine, and you have to be intentional about shifting them to serve you better. Your limiting beliefs do not have to define you. You are capable and can change them! Overcoming your limiting beliefs is just one example of mindset work. Mindset work can be hard to do on your own. There is often unlearning involved, and intention is a must. Working with my health coach made mindset work a practice for me.
Being a solopreneur has it’s challenges– need to talk about it? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or let’s chat in the DMs!
photos by Wild Heart Creative