Delegate – There is a common misconception that you have to ‘wear all of the hats’ in your business if you are a solopreneur, i.e. do everything from bookkeeping to administration to setting up your own website yourself. However, have you heard the expression ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’? To retain your sanity as a solopreneur and get the best results, you should spend your time doing the tasks you really excel at and leave the other tasks to others who are also experts in their particular fields. Although you are responsible for ensuring that all tasks are completed properly as a solopreneur, you do not actually have to perform them yourself. It can be hard to delegate as a solopreneur, you see the business as ‘your baby’ after all, but doing so can massively decrease your stress levels.
Take ownership of your time and your schedule – If you have worked as an employee before becoming a solopreneur, ensure that you do not carry your employee mindset over to your freelance business. Although companies prefer their employees to be proactive, they have to be reactive when their boss asks them to move tasks around in their schedule, for instance. This is all well and good for employees. They do not need to worry about how productive and profitable they are being as their salary will be paid regardless. However, as a solopreneur, when accepting work from clients you do need to think about how profitable a particular piece of work will be as accepting too many unprofitable jobs (these are often the small and/or fiddly ones) can quickly have an impact on your bottom line. Always plan your schedule one week ahead and only change it if you absolutely have to, perhaps as a favour to a regular, lucrative client.
Look after yourself – Remember that as a solopreneur you are your company’s greatest asset. It is therefore more important than ever that you eat a healthy diet, take regular exercise and get adequate sleep. However, a great many solopreneurs completely neglect these areas of their life when they are out of the routine that employment imposes on them. We all know that a lack of sleep impairs your ability to deal with stress and is one of the quickest ways to burnout. As well as keeping you fit, exercise can also release endorphins, the happiness hormone.
Don’t be a slave to technology – As a solopreneur, you need to keep a careful eye on your productivity as this will quickly affect your profitability. However, being glued to technological devices can quickly have a major impact on productivity. I therefore advise that you only check your email very sporadically (not more than 2 to 3 times per day) when you are working and have your email program closed in between times. Research has shown that it takes over one minute to regain your full concentration span when you have been interrupted by an incoming email. Considering the volume of emails many people receive these days, this could add up to a great number of wasted minutes over the day. Where phone calls are concerned, I suggest at least screening all of your incoming calls and only picking up those which you deem urgent. Alternatively, you could let all calls go through to voicemail and then check your voicemail sporadically.
Build a routine and schedule into your day – Have small goals to achieve and rewards for achieving these goals. Although no schedule is enforced on you when you are a solopreneur as in employment, we are all creatures of habit and a regular routine can have a major positive impact on your productivity. You should try to establish a routine which is as uniform as possible from one week to the next.
Network and socialise – As a solopreneur, you need to build up a solid network of fellow solopreneurs around you. Ideally, this should be both on- and offline. Find relevant groups to join on social media and/or other forums in your industry online. Join local business networking groups offline. If you are unsure where to start, contact your local Chamber of Commerce who will either run their own networking events or will be able to point you in the right direction. If there are no relevant local networking groups, you could always be enterprising and set up your own business network. If you are hesitant to set up something so formal, why not arrange regular meet-ups with fellow solopreneurs and socialise over lunch at your favourite pub or restaurant, for example. It really does make the world of difference when you have a community of colleagues to bounce ideas off or even just somebody at the other end of the phone line when you are having a bad day who has experienced exactly what you are going through.
Do your due diligence before taking on a new client – I really can’t emphasise the importance of this enough. Ensure you do your homework as thoroughly as possible regarding payment reliability and reputation before accepting a new client onto your books. At the very least, ensure that you have received a significant advance payment before starting work and always determine a relatively low credit limit for any client, but particularly new clients.
Passion is everything – One of the main reasons many people become solopreneurs is because they are passionate about what they do. This passion is apparent in the way they run their business and helps them to attract their ideal customers. You need to check in with yourself on a regular basis and do an honest assessment of whether that passion is still present. If it is not, as a solopreneur it is usually possible to make some minor tweaks to your business or transition into a completely different area altogether to bring yourself back into alignment.
Reward yourself for small achievements – As a solopreneur, you lack the hopefully positive annual appraisals when you get a pat on the back from your boss and perhaps also a financial bonus and other perks. The reality for me as a solopreneur is that, in all the busyness, clients rarely contact me to give positive feedback. I tend to only hear from them if they have a query regarding the work I have done. This can become demoralising as the solopreneur life is not always everything it is cracked up to be. I therefore suggest that you keep a record of any positive feedback that you have received from clients and read it back to yourself on a grey day. Also, asking clients for testimonials will also fulfil this purpose as well as giving you social proof to display on your website.
Find time to work on your business as well as in your business – We are all in business to make money and it is therefore vital that we dedicate enough hours to completing the work that is going to generate income or delegate this work to others. However, we also need to find time to work on growing and developing our business through marketing and PR activities, for example. As a solopreneur, it is all too easy to get out of alignment with time management and focus on the work that is going to generate income in the short-term whilst neglecting the marketing and PR activities which are a longer-term time investment. A business needs a balanced ratio of both activities for its long-term survival.
Over to you
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