So, you’ve started your own business. Maybe the excitement is still new, or maybe this has been your full-time gig for a while but you need some fresh ideas to get things moving again. Whether you call yourself a freelancer or solopreneur, you must have noticed already - this job is not for everyone.
This article helps you face some of the most daunting tasks that come along with the freedom of being your own boss.
1. Generating Business Ideas Solo Is a Challenge for any freelancer or solopreneur
Even if you like working on your own, there comes a time when you need other people — for advice, creative inspiration, or a different perspective besides your own. This might mean sitting down with a friend to bounce ideas off them or growing a network that contains other freelancers and entrepreneurs.
Block Out Time for Business Development
Not collecting a regular paycheck poses several new challenges. You want to have a steady pipeline of new opportunities, so business development is important. However, you also have to give current clients your best effort. To manage this, schedule time for each of the important activities of running your business. Maybe you can set mornings aside for challenging work and block out time in the afternoon to answer emails, post to social media, and conduct other marketing tasks.
Determine Whether You Need a Business Coach
Becoming a solopreneur may be a lonely endeavor by definition, but you don’t have to completely go it alone. Cultivate relationships that will enrich your personal and professional life. Hiring a business coach gives you a safe place to express your fears and learn strategies toward overcoming them. A good business coach can validate your emotions and then steer you toward solution-based thinking. Their job is to inspire you to get creative and stay focused.
Join or Lead a Network of Entrepreneurs
Solopreneurs often don’t think like other people and may have different values. This becomes an even bigger challenge if you work in isolation. It’s helpful to find others who can understand both your frustrations and your endless stream of new ideas. Start or join a group on Meetup.com, LinkedIn or Facebook.
Since you no longer have the support structure that comes with working within an organization, you need to create your own structure within your business. Besides your coach, service providers, and group tribe, you may wish to collaborate with others in your field on community outreach projects. It’s a great way to network and do good at the same time.
2. Going It Alone Can Be Scary
Solopreneurs can become stuck in a rut just like anyone else, and it’s much easier to become depressed if you’re working alone every day. Fortunately, several options exist that can help keep you connected, engaged, and healthy on your business path.
Join a Mastermind Group
A mastermind group can offer you a new perspective on whatever it is that has you frozen in place. These groups provide education, peer accountability, and support that can enable you to sharpen your personal and professional skills.
Mastermind group members challenge one another to set aggressive goals and devise the roadmaps necessary to accomplish them. Group facilitators run groups and moderate discussions geared toward helping each member create success.
Schedule Coffee Breaks With Other Solopreneurs
Once you have other friends who are also solopreneurs, schedule a weekly coffee break together. This gets everyone away from the keyboard for some social time. Coffee breaks are a great place to vent or discuss upcoming projects you’re excited about.
Hire Good Help
The best investment you can make to grow your business is hiring the right people. First, find what you’re great at and laser in on that area. Then hire people to help you with everything else.
You may be thinking there’s no way you want to become an employer, but that’s fine because you don’t have to. Use a virtual assistant service online, hire an accountant to do your bookkeeping, even get your nails done at a salon. Make the investment to outsource tasks that distract you from your core strengths so that you can concentrate on them.
3. Managing Business Finances Can Be Daunting
Being self-employed means that you spend more on office supplies, and inventory if you sell products directly. The first outlay of cash should be purchasing a great chair that won’t cramp your back and an ergonomic desk with enough space for all your paperwork, supplies, and technology, so you can stay organized.
Since your home office doesn’t come with full-time tech support (unless that’s something your partner is good at), you might want to invest in a desktop support service. Many computers actually come with service plans, so it’s a great question to ask when you buy your first laptop as a solopreneur.
Now for the good news: You can claim a lot of these expenses on your taxes. Furniture, stationery, electronics — even food you buy as part of your business endeavors — are all tax-deductible. Fuel, marketing costs, and business insurance may be related to your taxable income. Talk to an accountant before you start slashing away at your taxable income, but take advantage of every valid deduction. Use a free self-employment tax calculator to find out what you will need to set aside for quarterly filings.
4. Inventors and Inventory Require Protection
If you’ve developed your own product, it can be all too easy to let your living space become your warehouse. Consider renting a small storage unit nearby to store your inventory and any equipment you might need occasionally but don’t use daily. Not only will the extra, designated space free up room for you to work, but it can also reduce the risk of loss or damage to your inventory.
On a similar note, remember that it’s also important to protect your intellectual property by securing the rights to products you have designed and created. Patents and copyrights are the way to safeguard your proprietary ideas while you’re selling people on them.
5. Working at Home May Be a Challenge
Just because you’re a freelancer or solopreneur doesn’t mean you have to work at home if that’s not productive for you. Consider joining a co-working space. In many ways, it can offer fewer limitations than your home office. Before you commit to one, try to find a modern and comfortable space. You can still work from anywhere, but it’s nice to have a sense of community with other entrepreneurs and small business professionals. It also gives you a professional physical space to conduct face-to-face meetings.
Although working as a freelancer or solopreneur isn’t easy, the passion that spurred you to start your business also will help you sustain and grow it. And the good news is, there are more options and resources available today than ever before that can help you get and stay connected, fulfill the necessary requirements, and develop your business for success in the future.