The thrill is gone. Or at least diminished. Your new solo business is beginning to feel like a shoe that doesn’t quite fit.
Did you make a mistake?
Probably not. Most likely you’ve just lost sight of a few things.
Reality Sets In
You already know nothing in life is perfect. You didn’t completely expect that starting a brand new solo business would be any different. But the view from your desk in the middle of corporate America sure did shed a positive light on the notion of leaving the workaday constraints and adherence to someone else’s timeframes behind.
And your solo business is incredible. It’s not perfect. But that’s okay. It’s just that sometimes you find you must remind yourself of just why you set out on your own.
Was your idea a sound one or were you under the influence of the I-hate-my-job blues? Were your dreams unrealistic? Once the novelty wears off, things can look different. But that doesn’t mean it’s time to give up. Not by a long shot. You just need some perspective, my dear friend.
Avoiding Potential Pitfalls In Your Solo Business
Starting out on your own, getting a solo business off the ground and following your dreams, sounded so incredible before you took the leap. Like many things in life, we tend to see only the best parts of our hopes and dreams.
And those perfect visions of our dreams do exist. You just have to balance the great with the not-so-great. Fear not. It’s not as hard to do as you think.
1. One of the first brushes with reality is the realization that you’re doing it all. You’re a jack of all trades when it comes to your new solo business venture. No longer can you farm out the mundane chores to others. It’s all you, baby, all the time. Better keep that stash of hats handy because you’ll be changing them faster than it takes to sneeze.
You answer the phone — or, if you’re like me, you answer emails and messages.
I admit it. I avoid the phone as much as possible and use it only when necessary — something I couldn’t do in corporate America. But hey, I’m the boss now, and if I say no or minimal phone use, then that’s how it’s going to be. See, there’s a perk already, oh ye of little faith.
Still, the realization that you’re the chief cook and bottle washer can be overwhelming.
The good news is, you get to prioritize tasks your way, instead of someone else’s. Or even toss some of them aside entirely.
When you’re in charge of all things, it’s surprising how quickly you learn to discard the less important tasks, or at least put them aside until later.
It’s just a matter of learning to spend your time wisely for your solo business. And guess what? You get to make that decision, with a little help from your friend — me.
2. You’re unsure of which tasks deserve the most time and effort. With no one dictating your time and activities, it’s up to you determine what to focus on, and when. The paralyzing part comes in when you have lots of ideas, but no clue where to start.
Again, it comes down to prioritizing. Obviously, you can’t do everything all at once so the best approach is to focus on tasks that will quickly build your business. Don’t worry about everything else.
You’re only one person. It is a solo business, after all. Less critical tasks will patiently wait until you’re ready. They’re very forgiving that way.
For example, building your email list is a high priority. Otherwise, who will be your customers? How will they find you? Creating an email opt-in to grow your list would go at the head of the line.
Or maybe you don’t have a website set up yet. You may want to start there and get a site designed. If you’re running an online business, a website is critical. Focus your efforts there.
Keep in mind; businesses are always evolving, and it’s easy to feel as if you might do something wrong. Face it. You will. You can make changes down the line as your business grows and you discover what works and what doesn’t.
So just get started and adjust as you go. Nothing is ever cast in stone, not even your solo business. Don’t worry about making mistakes. Make them, improve and correct, and move on.
3. Bouts of self-doubt threaten your sanity. This one kicks my butt all the time. I’m forever second guessing decisions, wondering if the path I discarded was, in fact, the one I should have taken. My inner doubter threatens to derail me almost daily. I continually strive to shut her up, or at least put her somewhere I can’t hear her.
As humans, we’re subject to the human condition, which means we’re prone to self-doubt and tend to be much harder on ourselves than we ever are with anyone else.
In times of self-doubt, you need to remember why you set out on your own in the first place. Few of us head out on a path that we don’t at least have some idea we’ll be able to traverse. And your solo business is no different.
Do your best to keep things in perspective and always remind yourself of why you’re doing what you’re doing. Never forget that no one expects perfection. You can do this.
4. You’re undercharging for your services. Undercharging is one of the most common mistakes new solo business owners make. It’s closely related to self-doubt in that you cannot believe that little old you is worth the fee you’d like to charge.
You hem and haw and wonder what to charge, and end up quoting too low of a rate. Just suck it up and ask for what you’re worth. Don’t be afraid to quote a higher fee just because your business is new. People who value your product or service will willingly accept a higher rate.
A good rule of thumb when it comes to prices — whatever you’re considering, go higher. Chances are good you’re lowballing yourself so allow for that and bravely increase your rates.
5. You’re letting your clients control how you work. Big, big mistake. Of course, you don’t want to become a tyrant, but it’s all too common for new business owners to be so excited at the prospect of a new client that they hand over the reins of control to their customers.
Suddenly they’re telling you when to be available and how you should be doing things. Ugh!
Your relationship with your clients will involve some give and take, indeed. But if you find a customer dictating every aspect of how you do your work, it’s time to place boundaries. You train people — and clients are no different — to treat you in a certain way. Make sure it’s a way that’s in your best interests.
6. You get caught up in the minutia and let important tasks go. It’s so easy to find yourself stressing over silly, unimportant tasks and activities, allowing the critical ones to fall by the wayside. Maybe it’s because you get overwhelmed. But more likely it’s because those little things nag at you, even when they hold little value.
You want everything to be perfect, so you get sidetracked by trying to get everything just so. Perfectionism is overrated and ultimately unattainable. Let them go. Focus on what’s important and forget everything else.
7. You don’t give yourself a break. Sometimes the best thing you can do is take downtime. It sparks creativity, alleviates boredom, and balances out your life, business and otherwise.
New business owners tend to feel as if there’s no time to rest, which leads to burnout and discouragement. Your mental and physical health is as much a part of your business success as your skill level. Give yourself time to recharge.
Whatever made you want to start your solo business, keep those reasons in sight. Don’t get bogged down in self-doubt, overwork, or allowing others to take advantage of you.
Learn to set boundaries. Stop and smell the gardenias. Take walks.
Get enough sleep.
Stop chasing perfection.
And enjoy the experience of building something that belongs only to you — your solo business.
What kinds of things plague your thoughts in your solo business? How have you overcome them? Where do you still struggle? Take a moment and tell us how you cope in the comments below.