Enjoying being a one person operation

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Being a one-person operation or ‘solopreneur’ is nothing to be ashamed of, whether you are just starting out or are well established as a small business owner.

When you are on your own, you do not have to worry about managing employees (e.g. making sure they are productive and motivated, catering to their training and developmental needs, dealing with office politics and grievances). You can be flexible about containing your operational costs (e.g. working home from home or renting a workstation are viable options), and you can work according to your own schedule without having to set an example or take into account someone else’s needs (other than your customers).

Possibly the biggest drawcard of being a solopreneur is the ability to focus on honing your own knowledge and skills by being solely responsible for managing projects and customers. You are exposed to more and different situations than you would be as part of a bigger team, and the rewards for your work (financial and non-financial) are all yours.

Sooner or later, every solopreneur faces the question of whether to grow the business or keep it as a one man show. This can be prompted by the volume of work reaching a point where one person alone cannot cope and more resources are needed. Or the small business owner feeling they have had enough of certain tasks and activities and would like to explore new territory.

Small business owners who are at this juncture should not feel compelled to take on more employees for appearance’s sake – your customers will still judge you on the quality of your products and services, regardless of whether they are produced by just you or a bigger team. In addition, the number of employees you have is not the only measure of growth for a business.

Other indicators such as revenue, profit, number and diversity of customers are also valuable and reliable measures of how well the business is doing.

The fundamental questions you need to ask yourself are: ‘What is my vision for this business? What do I want to get out of this?’

If you can answer these questions honestly without allowing yourself to be swayed by opinionated people (who may or may not have good intentions!), then chances are you will make the right decision and not have any regrets about being a small business owner.

 

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19 comments
    There are pros and cons to solopreneurship. There are a few things one can do to create a supportive ecosystem through outsourcing or farming out some work if one has a high volume. 1) Create partnerships with like-minded service providers who can pick you up when the need arises - have a pool of go tos. 2) Use technology to create automated systems for Bookkeeping and administration. 3) Have an office space - not a fully fledged office. There are a number of shared resources one can tap into - WIFI board roomspace switchboard etc. this makes one look like you have a full operation.
    I love the term like-minded There is no doubt that one of the challenges of being out on your own is actually loneliness. No one to share the struggles or the triumphs with nobody to bounce ideas off. You need to create a board of trustees those like-minded people you can share things with and who will give you HONEST feedback before you spend too much time or money making mistakes
    I love being a solopreneur! I have done both and have to say that at this stage it really is working for me. The take off of internet marketing collaborations and E-commerce has allowed entreprenuers to increase revenues more and more without having to hire the manpower to support it.
    There is an old business joke that goes something like this… What is the worst thing about working for yourself? Well if you think your last boss was an idiot and hard to work for he is nothing compared to the guy you work for now. He doesn’t pay you on time he doesn’t give you leave he seldom recognises your achievements and a bonus is out of the question! Yup there are certainly pros and cons to going it alone but with the right support structure around you the challenges are not insurmountable and you can have fun. The end of year party may be a little small but the rewards can be very big!
    I am in a pretty unique posititon of actually being both right now... Solo in my consulting business and a partner in my Upcycled Furniture business both have their advantages and challenges. I wonder if certain things work better for different personality types?
    A few personal experiences to share OUT SOURCING -After being in the corporate world for years before going it alone I discovered that most of the out-sourced service providers cared for their reputation andwere therefore very deadline sensitive over time I identified those who were efficient self-motivators and initiators and working with them has never been blissful. So identify some in your industry. TECHNOLOGY -While it can be useful it requires that you know a little something about the programme or software you are about to use. One of my associates who runs a very successful operation - publishing multi-media products running an institute for speakers and has public lectures from time time had a challenge with keeping his financial records. He first employed someone but was advised to get different softwares and after trying a few he really liked Pastel which helped organise his finance department. NOTE: solopreneurs should always know what their enterprisefinancial status is before handing it over to someone. ADMIN -Office spaces such as Regus Business Centre Extraspace are amazing for solopreneurs - they come with a suitcase of services. First it gives you a business address switchboard operation access to other additional services.
    Stumbled upon a great article (Points below and read the FULL ARTICLE HERE) Hereare 5 challenges when you’re working for yourself from my own experience: 1. Finding somewhere to work It’s such a basic premise and when you’re an employee you take it for granted that you’ll turn up at the office every morning and sit down at your desk. When you work for yourself though you can choose to work from home – bedroom? kitchen? living room? – or head out to a café – which one? – or maybe find a more formal co-working space. The fundamental requirements here are first WiFi – it’s embarrassing and frustrating when you’re in a call with a client and the connection is bad – and second a bit of peaceand quiet. Personally I think there should be specific cafés allocated to parents and their screaming babies and others for hipster digital nomads who are trying to work (maybe there are and I’m just not hipster enough to know about them!). Solution: Having a regular spot in a co-working space of course removes the uncertainty and ensures that you have access to a professional space with WiFi alongsidepeople like you who are trying to make a living (while drinking a nicebig latte). I’d also recommend checking out a café how busy it is at different times of day and how reliable the WiFi signal is before you rely on it for an important call or meeting. 2. Deciding what to work on This shouldn’t be so different to working in a full-time managerrole but the truth is that when you’re in an office you’re always going to have new instructions coming in from the board an urgent request from your boss a last-minute meeting and various other disruptions throughout the day from people who need your help. Working for yourself at home you don’t have those disruptions (hurrah!) but you are then left with a whole day stretching out in front of you that you need to fill in a productive way. This can be especially difficult when you have a portfolio career and you’re juggling a lot of different projects and tasks – which one is most urgent or will create the most movement in the business? Solution: Setting goals with deadlines and action steps for the next three months one month one week will help you to prioritise the most important tasks when you wake up in the morning and will ensure that you move ever forwards even without someone on your back aboutwhen it’s due! 3. Knowing when to stop Part of the attraction of working for yourself when you’re looking at it from inside the walls of a full-time job is the flexibility. You choose when to work you can work from anywhere you can take vacation whenever you want. What you don’t see though is that this same flexibility can be a curse with lines becoming blurred between work and play office and home. In a way you never have any free time at all as you can always do more and it’s difficult to switch off. All this is compounded by the fact that you’re usually very passionate and self-motivated about what you’re doing given that you’ve chosen and created this business yourself which makes it even harder to let go at the end of the day. Solution: Here too it’s important that you set specific goals and action steps so that it’s clear when you’ve completed a particular part of your work and you can reward yourself with some time off. Regular breaks while you’re working are also crucialso that you can keep your energy and focus. 4. Having a social life Yes it’s very sad but there are no Christmas parties when you’re a solo entrepreneur – at least not like the ones we used to have at my old job! Nobody brings in cake to the office there’s no one to chat with over the coffee machine and no one asks you if you want to grab a drink after work. When you’re working for yourself you can go for days without meeting anyone face-to-face and you really have to go out of your way to have some social interaction in your day-to-day life. You’ll also notas easily be making new friends as new people join thecompany or you have various off-site team-building events (there is no team!). Solution: The co-working space can again help to simulate the office environment if that’s what you want or you can take oncontracts where you’re in a client’s office for a longer period; conferences can also be good for meeting likeminded people. Make sure as well that you book friend dates (and romantic dates if appropriate!) so that they’re in the calendar and make time for your family – after all that’s usually a big reason for why you’ve chosen to work for yourself in the first place. 5. Making all your decisions alone Working for yourself means that you have no boss telling you what to do no annoying colleagues who aren’t delivering on their projects no office politics at all in fact… You have complete creative control and the final say on everything you do. The other side of this though is that you have no one to brainstorm with no feedback no second opinion. There’s plenty of free information to be found online but it’s easy to get lost and overwhelmed in all the different advice that’s out there and nothing beats having someone to talk things through with. Solution: It’s absolutely vital to your success and your sanity that you find some kind of mentor a coach or a peer who you can rely on when you need to. I have a partner and friend on one of my businesses who is always the first person I go to on my other projects as well and I’ve also had several coaches over the past years; it’s just so valuable to have someone you trust to be there for you. It might be a friend or a former boss who can serve as a mentor when you’re stuck on something or else a professional coach or consultant.
    I must say that I prefer working with myteam around me I feed off of the energy my small team have and find it a less lonely environment to work in.
    TheTastyChef - similarly to me. I have a good fortune of both worlds. I really prefer the solopreneurish kind of space which is not quite one because I do have meetings withteams of outsourced contributors physically and in cyber space via skype. What fascinates me is that I get to work with diversifiedteams - contributingdifferent energies but I get to go back to my cocoon too and not have to deal with HR issues as a small outfit.
    Clint -It is a matter of comfort and preference - different strokes for different folks.
    Point 3 on this article really hit home for me! I have a serious problem allowing myself off time and knowing when to stop for the day...it can become quite an addiction and if not carefully managed can get in the way of relationships and lead to burn out. It was a big lesson for me to learn to let go and have structured work hours. Carving out time for family excercise and relaxing is just as important as scheduling any other part of your business/work day and if done will lead to a happier and more productive you.
    It's a challenge we all face and to compound it we convince ourselves it is necessary when in fact a little time off is what is necessary
    Thanks MikeSaidWhat.The article talks to me in many ways actually all five points do. When I was full-time corporateI worked out my life in such a way that I have a social life while working do you think it would have changed when I went solo. This didn't workquite as well. My offsprings knew when to fit themselves into my diary they physically booked me(well electronically) and would call my scheduler to check what open spots I had. I do have to say though that working as solopreneurs has afforded me flexibility. I can workout times when I can attend school award ceremonies which I never miss big sporting activities and imprtant calendar days such as birthdays etc. We live and learn.
    In many ways it is a site like this that helps solopreneurs remain sane and connected. Being able to talk to each other raise questions and concerns and of course to talk about our challenges makes a massive difference
    My friend and mentor Ben Filmalter (foundr Mugg & Bean) used to say that there is only one thing worse than having a partner and that was NOT having a partner. I am sure there are a few opinions on that one
    Indeed Mike there are days I wish I had a partner to share the burden of decision making and other other business stresses as well as to bounce ideas off of and spark eachother.
    REMEMBER: You may be a one person business now but there is also potential to expand and scale up such as the Amazon founder - Jaff Bezos who started out in his garage and today he is the largest online bookseller and there are many more. Just wonna share the two links with you that may be inspirational - https://smallbiztrends.com/2014/07/successful-one-person-startups.html I also found this site very interesting and one can participate in chats with people who are on the same boat check this outhttp://www.inc.com/guides/2010/05/running-one-person-business.html I think they are good source to break the solitude.
    Oh yes there was once only ONE McDonald's ONE Steers ONE Mugg & Bean... Reach for the stars
    Don't forget we are all here for you!