Your better half doesn’t want to hear another word about the business and none of your friends really understand what you do for a living. Their advice is often well meaning but grossly misplaced and pretty much useless. There is nowhere to turn, no one to vent to. Does that sound familiar?
If you are the sole proprietor of a business, you have earned the title of ‘solopreneur’. One is the loneliest number as the song goes and after all, that’s what solo means. In business and in life.
Unless you’re the lucky exception, this e-zine is written for you, the solopreneur who feels alone.
Having worked with numerous solopreneurs as a coach, I catalogued my observations of why this phenomenon exists and what can be done about it.
- Solopreneurs have no one to ask about big business decisions
Often when solopreneurs are setting up their business, they fall into their strategy. That is, they don’t give much thought to or do much research about the following:
-what should my niche offering be? (ie. What product or service will be my main bread and butter?)
-who should my niche target customer be? (ie. Who should I pursue to sell this offering to?)
-What is my brand character?
-What pricing structure is in line with my brand character and competitive set?
-How will I reach my customers (distribution and communication)
-Where do my target customers most congregate?
-How can I speak to them at those places?
Some business owners aren’t even aware of the scope of decisions they need to make ABOUT their business before they spend a single penny more ON the business.
What’s fascinating is that even when the solopreneur’s business directly involves creating a business strategy for others, this is a step that gets missed or doesn’t get the attention it deserves.
How does a business that’s skipped this vital step suffer in the long run? Lack of sales and consistent clients, of course.
- Solopreneurs have nobody to discuss business crises with
When my client Kevin (made up name) was called into his biggest client’s office out of the blue, he got very nervous. He was a month late on the delivery of the project he was hired to lead and he was terrified that this meeting spelled the end of his lucrative contract.
Once we spoke, he had a calmer view and a plan of action where he presented a list of benefits that he brought to the company despite the delays. In addition, he outlined the consequences of pulling him off the job at this time. Not having an objective third party to go to when trouble’s at bay makes a solopreneur a very vulnerable creature.
- Solopreneurs don’t have anyone to keep upholding the business vision for them
Prior to meeting me, my client Kelly (made up name again) was so busy working on current projects that she didn’t prospect for new clients during the entire 6 months of her contract with her current client. Once the project was finished, she found that she had to work 2 months to get the next contract in the door. That was a long time for a solopreneur not to get paid.
When you’re working for yourself and by yourself, you’re a busy person. You are running either after a project for a client or the client herself.
When there’s no accountability to abandoning the long term vision in the short term, you can imagine that these busy people simply go with the flow. The consequence? You are running a business you thought you’d grow and love but you’re just on a treadmill, trying to keep your head above water.
The first solution to the Lonely Solopreneur syndrome from my perspective is obviously to engage the services of a trained and a certified business coach. Even as a coach myself, I have a coach. She is there for me when I have crises and keeps me accountable for the future and helped me hone my business strategy when I first started.
So what if you don’t have a coach to speak to when all this is happening? Here are some other resource suggestions:
-Appoint a friend who is a trusted colleague who is in a similar industry and has equal or more experience than you to check in with during times of crisis. I call this the ‘trouble-buddy’. Agree to do the same for him. This will give you an objective perspective and allow you to feel less lonely.
-Set up an advisory panel of your best suppliers or strategically aligned partners to discuss your business plans and long term strategies. They will surely provide some much needed feedback and allow you to walk away with a strategy.
-Again, in the case of crises, if no one is available, write down different scenarios of how the situation might go and a course of action you can take for each one. Feeling prepared will ward off some of the anxious vulnerability.
-In the case of business strategy planning, there are lots of resources available from Government entrepreneurship programs (SEA program by the Toronto Business Development Centre) to online resources (google ‘business planning’ there were 91 million results when I did it)
-Join related Business Associations and attend their seminars. If the Association is a good one, they will have booked good speakers whose topics and teachings will be addressing your pain as well as every other solopreneur’s.
Best of all, befriend another lonely solopreneur. You’ll see the world in a whole new light.
With kindness as always,