Being your own boss comes with some great advantages because you can essentially shape the business the way you want to run it. Dive into your projects wearing comfy workout clothes? No sweat. Customize your hours to be later or earlier in the day? Perfect timing. Pick and choose the type of projects you want to accept? No problem. Being a solopreneur equates with freedom for many people.
That being said, like most other things in life, solopreneurship comes with some drawbacks, including unknowns such as dealing with an unpredictable income, finding affordable space, planning out marketing strategies, and launching original products. Many solopreneurs also worry about feeling lonely while working in solitude, staying motivated, or the big one: fear of failure.
Sound familiar? Don’t let fear hold you back. Here are five struggles many solopreneurs face and the solutions that bring them peace of mind.
1. Dealing with unpredictable income
Running your own company can be scary; you never know if you’ll ring up enough sales or when unexpected business-related expenses come up. If you previously were used to bringing in a regular salary, solopreneurship is definitely a change. However, there are several steps you can take to address uncertainty and keep it from being a deterrent to living out your entrepreneurial dreams.
- Put aside money whenever you can for an emergency fund. A few months of living expenses are recommended.
- Apply for a Small Business Administration-backed loan to help you raise working capital.
- Launch a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter or similar platform if you’ve got an original idea or need to raise capital to produce and distribute your invention. (Just make sure you protect your work from illegal copies before you put it out there.)
- Take out a business credit card to help you cover and keep track of expenses. Watch those interest rates, though. Apply for a card with a zero or low introductory rate and only charge what you know you can pay off.
- Calculate your self-employment taxes to use as a basis for reducing future liabilities and maximizing deductions and credits.
- Worried about benefits such as healthcare or insurance? Take a look at some options for entrepreneurs to help you alleviate this stress.
By establishing contingency plans, you can accommodate the uncertainty of fluctuating income and the lack of employer-backed benefits.
2. Finding affordable space
Finding physical space is a big challenge for many solopreneurs. Sure, working out of your own home is always an option, unless you’re living in a small apartment, with a family, or sharing space with roommates — then, having enough room to run your business can be difficult, especially if you have inventory or need to utilize larger pieces of equipment.
Potential solutions include joining a co-working space or renting out a storage unit — or even staking out space in a closet or small unused spot in your house or apartment. Alternately, you could build a small structure on your property (but be sure to secure all the proper permits and build according to local zoning laws).
3. Managing business processes
The combination of accounting, marketing, sales, inventory management, and other business processes can be both overwhelming and time-consuming. If the idea of juggling these tasks is holding you back from pursuing solopreneurship, it’ll be a lot easier if you break things down into manageable chunks. For instance, schedule time for each task and also pencil in some time for business development, using these tips:
- Establish scheduled, uninterrupted blocks of time to perform necessary tasks such as paying bills and tracking records for accounts payable and receivable.
- Get into a groove of updating your social media feeds and/or blogs a couple of times per week to promote yourself and your business.
- Set aside a couple of hours per week for brainstorming sessions focused on marketing, product development, or other growth plans. Choose a time of day when you’re alert and at your most creative.
Once you get into a routine, juggling and completing these tasks gets easier. To further help yourself manage business processes, seek out online productivity tools and cloud-based apps to help you automate. Remember, the goal is to simplify and streamline to make things less overwhelming. Once you get a handle on that, the sailing is much smoother.
4. Handling everything alone
Working as a solopreneur can be intimidating because you’re responsible for everything pertaining to the business. There is no turning to your boss to take over and “fix” things when they go wrong. Handling everything yourself can take some getting used to, especially in the first year or two.
The good news is that you don’t have to be alone. Attend networking events, meet new people, and nurture professional relationships. The whole prospect is less overwhelming if you find people with similar concerns whom you can talk to, bounce ideas off of, or simply ask questions.
- Seek out local meetups for local solopreneurs. If there aren’t any, start your own! Social media makes it easy.
- Look into finding a mentor or hiring a business coach to teach you how to get through the rough stuff.
- Join your local chamber of commerce, and attend its meetings and events so you can mingle with other business owners.
- Engage on social media by joining industry groups on LinkedIn and/or Facebook, or follow along with topical Twitter chats.
- Try planning for a trade show or conference; not only can you expand your brand visibility this way, but you’ll also meet other like-minded people to establish camaraderie with.
By enacting these tips over time, you’ll find you’ve developed relationships and reduced (or eliminated) those feelings of isolation. Being around other professionals can also help keep inspiration and motivation levels high.
5. Fear of failure
Taking the plunge into work as a solopreneur is scary, no doubt about it. However, you’ll never know whether you can succeed until you give it a chance. Ask yourself: What’s the worst thing that will happen? You either give it another whirl with a new strategy or return to the 9-to-5 lifestyle. Every failure experienced in life is a good learning opportunity. For some people, current failure equates to future success, thanks to the lessons they learn along the way.
According to media reports, solopreneurship is on the upswing as people build something with their own two hands, based around their individual skill sets. If you have the desire to run your own business, you can overcome most of the inevitable hurdles with drive, commitment, and these workable solutions.