The Hidden Dangers of Solopreneurship
Setting off on your own after working for “the man” can be exciting. You’ve lost the shackles and are now on your way to controlling your own life, both in and outside of “work”.
You can choose what hours you work, which clients you work for, and how much effort you put “in” to your work. Sounds exciting doesn’t it?
But, some hidden dangers await you as you head into the world of entrepreneurship for the first time.
So, it makes sense to think about what could happen and how to side-step any of those bumps in the road before you get stuck.
Working long hours to grow your brand, take on clients/attract customers and bring in revenue can take its toll. Some people new to entrepreneurship like to inch their way in, choosing to side hustle their new business before making the big leap and going “all in”.
For many it’s going to be long days and weeks, time away from family, friends and loved ones, and less time spent on the things that you really love to do.
Now that doesn’t mean all new soloprenuers just focus on their business and nothing else. Time away from building and growing business can be a good thing, and for many this can help with creative and inspirational ways to solve any issues, roadblocks and any other concerns.
This is the reason why downtime is important.
Maybe it’s ensuring you take your dog on that mid-morning walk in the park, saying yes to going to that festival with your friends or making sure you go to kickboxing classes twice a week.
Finishing off work at two or three in the morning isn’t going to be productive long-term.
Heading to zero
Cashflow is the lifeblood of most businesses, so when you’re managing everything on your own it’s a solid idea to keep track of things. Yep, you’re not an accountant and keeping track of expenses is boooooring! But, it’s important.
Thirty percent of new businesses fail in the two years (source). One key reason? Cashflow. You need funds to pay suppliers, anyone you outsource tasks to or hire, and anything else to deliver products/services to your customers and provide aftercare service.
Lots of people new to business underestimate the time and resources it takes to deliver excellent service to people after they’ve bought from you.
Don’t fall into that trap.
Chasing the shiny coin
Shiny object syndrome (SOS) affects most entrepreneurs, even the most experienced ones. It’s the cause of always being distracted from what has all of the focus right now onto something new and exciting.
You’ll be highly motivated, but could spend hours and hours spinning your wheels concentrating on one project only to switch to another one later. You’ll chase project after project and not actually choose one to focus all of your attention on.
Every business needs to be moving forward with the times, but new solopreneurs can become caught up in SOS so much that it has some negative impact, including:
- Burning through cashflow
- Confusing yourself, staff and customers
- Lots of unfinished projects
- Long-term plans shelved constantly
Up and down
This week you’re working 12-hour days, eating at your desk and not going to the gym. Last week it felt like you had all the time in the world waiting for confirmations from your clients on recent projects. Plus, other things happened that meant you had to spend time out of the business.
Managing the waves of busyness is important.
It’s also smart business to be prospecting or externally marketing your business every week, even if it’s something as small as sending a few emails or picking up the phone to some potential customers.
You can then combat the ups and downs of business to help protect you against burning through that much needed cashflow.
Lots of times, being a solopreneur means you’re going to be working on things yourself. You had the initial thought, inspiration and drive to take action and do something that you love (or at least something that you like), so it’s important to keep your focus and goal in mind.
With business partnerships there’s always the ability for people in the business to lean on one another. That’s a little harder when you’re on your own.
Meeting and talking with other business owners in your local area (or online) can help with this loneliness.
However, family and friends, if they’re not in business themselves, probably won’t understand the thoughts, feelings and challenges you have every week. Sometimes speaking to these groups of people can put you in a negative mindset, so it’s best to judge initial conversations and take it from there.
Just because you’re taking this business journey on your own it doesn’t mean you have to be lonely.
Lots of the above points can lead to a solopreneur becoming depressed. While it’s possible that extroverts can become lonely more quickly without people around them, introverts can suffer from depression too. Now, I’m not medically qualified in depression, but Psychology today does have an interesting article on depression.
The key signs of being depressed are:
- Sleep difficulties
- Aches and pains
- Decreased energy
- Concentration problems
An interesting number of signs that I feel would apply to many stressed out small business owners like us. And depression has a negative feeling to it in society. Lots of times, people will talk about one of their friends or business associates quite negatively once they learn they currently have depression or have been depressed in the past.
If you are feeling some of the above then it might be best to reach out to someone who can help talk through your current thoughts, feelings and aspirations, and maybe bring you back to the reasons why you began in business.
Being a solopreneur means you’ll come across things you need to side-step. Four things you can practice to become mentally strong are:
- Meditate daily — clearing your mind of the stresses and troublesome parts of your world
- Meet people — whether an introvert or extrovert, meeting people outside in the real world will improve your energy levels
- Sleep deeply — getting a great night’s sleep every night is important. Read this post for some tips
- Exercise every day — moving each and every day is going to help you get more energy and have clearer focus
Taking a positive, forward thinking approach and keeping both your body and mind healthy will help you to react to any hidden dangers much more quickly. They’re unavoidable and, if you’re not prepared (like most things in business), one or more of these will come to bite you in the ass.
So, like the Scouts say: be prepared.
A note from Write Stop
The writer could have gone on to make this piece an epic 20,000 words, but we asked him to keep it concise.
Being about entrepreneurship and mental health is an interesting topic, and one we wanted to highlight.
The writer might not be a specialist in terms of the medical field, but I’m sure we’re both in agreement that lots of business websites don’t have medical doctors or researchers with PhDs writing their content.