The number of “solopreneurs” is increasing each year in the United States. In fact, it is predicted that the those in this independent workforce is expected to grow to 24 million by 2018. A solopreneur is simply a business owner who works and runs her business alone. The list of benefits for choosing this route to success is long. Flexibility. Freedom. The absence of office politics. But there are some drawbacks to going it alone in business.
One drawback of working solo is that you have to provide your own motivation to keep going when you don’t want to. There is no boss to prod you along or to inspire you to greater productivity. You are responsible for making sure the work gets done and is done well. Feedback will come in the form of more business or unfortunately, sometimes less.
The day to day life of working alone may take its toll on some solopreneurs, but there are some important ways to combat the drawbacks of going it alone.
Block your schedule.
If you block out certain times of the day to complete particular tasks, your calendar becomes a sort of accountability partner. For example, if you are your most accurate in the morning hours, this may be the time to block out for bookkeeping tasks. If your people skills are sharper after lunch, you may want to wait until then to call on clients. Whatever you decide, make sure you are consistently blocking out times for specific tasks.
Start every day at the same time.
Since there is no beginning to the workday for a solopreneur, you must create one. If you do your best work in the morning, you have the freedom to start extremely early and finish sooner in the day. If you find yourself doing your best work later in the day, perhaps you should give yourself an extra hour or two in the morning and work your business a bit longer in the afternoon. But I suggest you pick a time that is consistent with your strengths and with your clients’ schedules. Whatever you choose, make sure you keep relatively the same schedule daily.
Make sure your workday has a stopping point.
Too many business owners do not have the discipline to stop working. Unfortunately, this habit may cause significant problems to both your health and your relationships, which in turn will harm your business long term. All entrepreneurs know that there is an unending list of tasks that need to get checked off. The problem comes when the list is never complete. The fastest way to decrease motivation for a productive workday is to start the day exhausted because you didn’t know when to stop the day before. If you find yourself in this place, it might be time to contract with a virtual assistant to complete tasks that you could easily outsource.
Make a move.
One of the benefits of working solo is that there are fewer interruptions than you would typically see in an office environment. However, that means that you may find yourself “on a roll” when working on your task list and forget to stop and move. Some suggest setting a timer for every hour as a reminder to get up and at least walk around a bit. Others suggest setting up a time to actually get a good workout in during your workday. Michael Hyatt has used a stand-up desk for health benefits for years and swears by it. I even have a friend who uses a DeskCycle to stay moving on the job. Whatever method of movement you choose to use be ready to see increased spurts of energy and just the motivation you need to keep going through the day.
Reward yourself for wins.
One thing you often experience in the traditional workplace is the kudos you get from your boss or co-workers for a job well done. As crazy as it sounds, you must figure out a way to reward yourself for the positive things you accomplish in your “workplace”. Only you know what rewards you will work for. Perhaps you leave your workspace for a quick meet-up with a friend at your favorite coffee shop. Or you may work better for something you would like to purchase, but just won’t spend the money on. Or maybe it is something as simple as giving yourself permission to enjoy the latest blockbuster after work. Whenever you need to accomplish something important, put a little carrot at the end of that stick. It just may keep you motivated to keep going.
Working solo is becoming the hottest trend in business because it is simply possible. Technology makes it quite easy in some types of business. But one main problem for many solopreneurs is the isolation they feel when not in an office environment. Taking steps to connect with others will combat those feelings of aloneness. It may be as simple as connecting on social media a couple of times a day. (Disclaimer: Be careful. These sites may steal your productivity.) Or it may mean you make a phone call or skype call so you can actually hear another human’s voice. Some have even chosen to join into the newly popular co-working spaces available in some cities. This allows you to work alongside other solopreneurs and feed off the energy a common workspace offers.
Find a fellow solopreneur.
Although the number of entrepreneurs in the U.S. is growing each year, it is quite obvious that this journey is not for everyone. In fact, if you talk about your dreams and aspirations for very long, you will inevitably run across that “negative Nellie” who will try to crush your dreams with every possible scenario of business failure. This is all the more reason to seek out a fellow entrepreneur to share accountability and encouragement with. You need to find someone who understands what the journey looks like and can challenge you when the road ahead is rough. It has been said that
Accountability is the glue that ties commitment to results.
If you allow yourself to be accountable to someone else on the same path, you will see results sooner rather than later.
Rehearse the big picture.
Finally, when motivation is low, remind yourself why you started. If you wrote down business goals early on, take a look back at those goals. Remember the successes you have seen and experienced. Be thankful for each and every one. Then choose. Choose to throw in the towel or use the towel to wipe the sweat off your face and keep going. Have the guts to push through the small bumps in order to see your dream realized.
What motivates you to keep going in business?