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1 Year 4 Things Learnt; The Life of A Solopreneur

1 Year 4 Things Learnt; The Life of A Solopreneur

I recently celebrated my one year anniversary of starting my own business. There are some things that turned out to be harder than I thought, others that weren’t nearly as hard as people told me they would be, and still others that were absolute surprises and delights.

My business is still very much in its infancy, but it’s been an educational start. Here are some of the many lessons I have learned along the way, so far:

1. There is (a lot of) stress. But there’s also control.
One thing I think I underestimated is the stress that can come with the business development side of being an entrepreneur. It’s just me, so I don’t have the pressure of ensuring other people’s livelihoods, but if I don’t bring in the business, I don’t get paid. And that is quite a different feeling than getting a regular monthly paycheck from a corporate employer.

That said, I really like the absolute direct link between my effort and my reward. I like that if I’m willing to take on more work, I can make more money. That sense of control makes long or odd hours totally worth it, because it’s my choice and my decision.
1 Year 4 Things Learnt; The Life of A Solopreneur

2. There is flexibility.
I also love the flexibility that comes with this type of career. I tend to work in sprints and find that without the endless meetings of corporate life, for the most part, I can work when I am at my most productive and stop working when I have used up all my mental energy. My work time is much more concentrated now so I can fit much more productivity into fewer hours.

In an office environment, I always felt obligated to physically be there for a certain number of hours, even if I actually didn’t have anything to do or was already mentally burned-out for the day, which was just wasted time. I work out of my home now, which makes this “sprint scheduling” feasible and also allows for other side benefits, like wearing comfy clothes most of the time, eating lunch from my own kitchen, the occasional impromptu dance  just because.

3. It doesn’t have to be lonely.
One thing that other consultants warned me about was the sense of isolation, either just feeling lonely from being by yourself all day or missing the feeling of being part of a team and having other people to bounce ideas around with. I actually haven’t found that to be a huge issue for me personally.

1 Year 4 Things Learnt; The Life of A Solopreneur
4. You have to ask.
The final lesson I am learning is to ask. It’s amazing how far you can get by simply asking, asking for the introduction, asking for help, asking for information, asking to meet, asking for the business. As the expression goes, “The worst they can say is no!,” and I have been amazed by how often people will say yes.

Most people genuinely want to help, especially those who are starting out or starting over, and I have been amazed by the graciousness of both close and casual contacts and even contacts-of-a-contact— in giving their time, guidance, feedback and facilitating introductions. I have also tried to pay it forward by sharing my time and advice with others from my network as well as mentoring in my local startup community.

I am only a little over a year in to this adventure, and I know many more lessons, challenges and pleasant surprises lay ahead. The major thing I am learning is to enjoy the journey and to embrace the possibilities. When we are children, we believe we can do anything; our entire lives are ahead of us, and it seems possible that we could be a footballer-public figure-doctor. As we go through school, we learn or are told what we are good at and what we are not. Over time, the chances become slim until we are defined by a single university discipline, then a single job description. My leap into self-employment has broaden than chance again as I now have the freedom to write my own job title and description, or even have multiple job titles. And for that, I am profoundly grateful.

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