With nearly three years under my belt as a solopreneur, I can in no way pretend to know all there is to
know about being one. But I can honestly say that I’ve learned a ton as I reflect on where I started and where I am now with my freelance business. Like all other solopreneurs, I’ve experienced the trials with the tribulations. And I’ve found that there’s nothing that I’d rather do professionally – but it’s not always easy.
If you’re just starting out as a solopreneur, or have been working hard to find your way, it can only help to listen to the lessons learned by others who have been walking the walk. So, with 2012 nearing its denouement, I thought I’d share a few of the solopreneurial bits of advice and epiphanies that I’ve picked up and learned from as I’ve ventured down my freelancing path.
Put yourself out there
Shyness and solopreneurship don’t make a great combination. Maybe you’re not cut out to be a social butterfly, but you’ll need to stretch your wings and go outside of your comfort zone to make connections. Doing business as a solopreneur requires building strong relationships – online and offline.
Develop a proficiency in herding cats
In an ideal world, projects will go according to plan and you’ll be able stick to the schedule. Know that despite your best efforts to meet deadlines, clients and vendors will sometimes have competing priorities and not provide you with the info or feedback you need on time. Don’t be bashful about or wait too long to – tactfully and respectfully -remind folks when the ball is in their court and that you need their attention to move things forward.
Realize that nothing is ever a “done deal” until it’s a done deal
For a variety of reasons, you may find that projects that you’ve quoted never get off the ground or get grossly delayed. Again, competing priorities come into play – and so do budgetary constraints. Sometimes, prospective clients are big on the idea of having you do work for them, but they just plain aren’t prepared to focus on it. Result – you spend precious time determining the scope of a project and pricing it, only to find that you’ve wasted your time. Tip: Before presenting a formal proposal (You know – the one with all the fancy formatting and nitty gritty details), send an email with a brief outline of the scope, rates and payment terms and conditions. Then tell them you’ll issue a formal proposal if they want to move forward. It’s not foolproof, but it really does help weed out some projects that are more pipedreams than something they’re taking seriously.
Say “no” to multi-tasking
By “multi-tasking,” I mean trying to do little bits and pieces of different tasks or projects simultaneously in a compressed time period. Naturally, as a solopreneur, you’ll constantly have multiple priorities nagging at you. But rather than jump from this to that constantly thinking about what you need to do next, instead learn to focus completely on the task at hand. In my own experience, I can tell you that checking Facebook comments and retweeting while writing a client’s web content do not a productive combination make. If you constantly let “noise” interrupt your projects, you’ll find yourself spending more time picking up where you left off than you will actually doing the work. Consider carving out appointments on your calendar for specific tasks and projects – and ONLY work on those particular things during the time periods when you have them scheduled.
Above all, be flexible and open-minded as a solopreneur. Just when you think you’ve arrived where you believe you want to be in your journey, you might find yourself wanting more – or wanting something different. Always stay open to entertaining new concepts and approaches. And view every experience – every perk and pitfall – as an opportunity to learn, improve and grow.
I welcome you to add to the list! What lessons have you learned this past year that could help other solopreneurs
Image courtesy of Mr. Lightman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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