4 Business Untruths Solopreneurs Need to Ignore

Don’t believe everything people tell you about running a business.

As you start and build your business as a solopreneur, you’ll discover that not everything people tell you is right. While what they tell you may be true in their particular situations, that doesn’t mean following their advice will be right for your business. I’m now in my fourth year as a freelance writing solopreneneur, and along the way I’ve discovered a few myths (which I believe truly are myths for nearly all solopreneurs) in need of busting.

 4 Business Untruths You Can Kick to the Curb

  • You need to have something other than a home office. – Unless your business depends on you working with clients in your office, you can do just fine with a home office. If you need to occasionally meet with clients, you can see them at their location (always convenient for them!), take them out for coffee or lunch, or book a meeting room at your local library or other facility that offers conference rooms by the hour. I’ve never had a client frown upon the fact that I don’t have an out-of-home office. And with the growth of freelancing as a career, working from a home office is becoming more of a rule than the exception. Just be sure you have a home office that is purely a business space where you have all the amenities you need and where you’ll be free from other distractions within your house .

  • Before you can include a particular type of project in your suite of services, you need to have done that type of work before. – Yes. You must have the knowledge and skill set needed to work on a project, but it’s not always necessary to have the same type of project under your belt to get the business and do the job well. As long as your talents are transferrable, there’s no reason why you can’t add a service to your offerings or take on projects clients inquire about. DO be honest with your clients and tell them if you haven’t worked on the type of project they’re asking about. Then go on to say why you believe you’ll be a good fit regardless. In my own case, it wasn’t until recently when I was approached about writing the audio for marketing-focused video scripts. I immediately disclosed to my client I hadn’t worked on those types of projects before, but that I had full confidence I could do a great job for him. He was more than willing to bring me onto the job – and since then we’ve worked together on those types of projects several times over the past few months.
  • You can’t walk away from business – You can. And you should when clients or projects don’t align with your goals, values, or available time. Know the warning signs of difficult clients – unreasonable deadlines, unresponsive when asked questions or for feedback on work, disrespectful of your “off hours” time, constantly changing the scope of work. Also, carefully consider taking on projects you will absolutely abhor or that are outside of what you want to focus on in your business. Nearly a year ago, I opted to no longer take on proofreading projects. Why? I don’t enjoy them. AT ALL! I had to forfeit a good client as a result and have turned that type of work from other prospects away since I made the decision. I also ran into a situation where I turned business away from what could have been a quite lucrative ongoing endeavor. After just a brief amount of time dealing with the client contact, I decided the interpersonal deficiencies (OK, that’s my very nice way of saying she was a total B to me!) were something I was in no way willing to put up with on a continual basis.No matter the situation, respectfully explain why you’re not interested in taking on the work or doing business with someone.
  • You won’t be able to grow your business unless you hire employees. – Payroll, turn-over, Obama-Care…No thanks! But just because you’ve decided to be a business of one employee (a.k.a. YOU), doesn’t mean you can’t grow your revenue or your suite of available services or products. Much of what you can do depends on how well you manage your time and resources. Take advantage of the free and low-cost productivity and business organizational tools available to you. A few of my personal favorites are Trello, Evernote, and Toggl. Save time and effort logging into the online networks you access with an online password manager like LastPass. Use a social media management tool like Hootsuite. Outsource a few administrative tasks to a bookkeeping pro or virtual assistant. And if you’re looking to expand your business offerings to clients, partner with other freelancers who provide complementary services.

The more time you spend as a solopreneur, the more advice you’ll get from others in business. Remember, not everything you hear will apply to you. When you receive well-meaning guidance, listen. Then consider how it meshes with your own unique business and aspirations before acting – or not acting – on it.

Your turn! What business myths have you busted in your solo-business?

By Dawn Mentzer

6 comments on “4 Business Untruths Solopreneurs Need to Ignore
  1. As a Realtor, I contest only one aspect of your thinking….the need for a “place to go.” I’ve known far too many in my profession who, because they view a career in real estate as an opportunity for total independence or because they have other commitments such as small children at home, make the mistake of not integrating into their professional office environment. Odds are, it’s the kiss of death to their business. While not all careers require the benefits of a communal office environment, real estate certainly does. We’re independent contractors, thus essentially all competitors. However, the office provides an environment where ideas are shared, changes in real estate laws and practices discussed, camaraderie developed. The solopreneur should weigh the benefits of having a destination vs. not before excluding it out of hand. And, at the end of the day, some of us just like to have a destination. As always, Dawn, your writing is insightful, inspiring and spot on.


    • dawnmentzer says:

      Thanks for your insight, Tyler. Excellent points as always! I completely agree that having a professional space outside of the home is beneficial – and sometimes necessary – depending on the type of business and on how self-disciplined a solopreneur is. Your example perfectly illustrates why all business advice (mine included!) needs to be put into context for the individual and not taken as the universal way things should be done. Not everyone can work from home successfully, and those who can still need to make an effort to get out of the house often to network and collaborate face to face with peers and clients.

      • Jose says:

        As a Solopreneur with ADHD, I have tried the home office and it is a complete failure.

        There are simply too many distractions, the neglected to do lists, hobbies, ..etc.

        There is no better way to make sure an ADHD Solopreneur gets things done than to be put in a place where there is nothing else to do but work.

        • dawnmentzer says:

          Hi Jose – thank you for your input! It appears that particular “untruth” is in reality a “truth” for you. Your situation is the perfect example of why no piece of business advice is universally appropriate. And mine is no exception! I completely agree that a home office isn’t a good fit for anyone who struggles with putting the personal to-do list out of mind or venturing away from their in-home office space to do other things. Do you own or rent an office or work in a co-working environment?

  2. My favorite is “It takes an average of 2 years for most businesses to turn a profit.”

    A totally meaningless truism that’s been floating around since as long as I can remember. The “average” business includes the numbers from coal mines to coaching, auto manufacturers to auto detailers.

    Worst of all, it gives people an excuse to not strive for profitability more quickly. After all, “if we’re still broke after 18 months, well, that’s pretty typical according to the statistics.”

    • dawnmentzer says:

      Good one, Marcus! Yes, that one certainly isn’t “one size fits all.” In my business situation, not being profitable in year one wasn’t an option. Thanks to a home office, few start-up costs and not much in the way of overhead expenses, profitability that soon was achievable (but it did take some time for my freelancing revenues to ramp up to something comparable to that of my former corporate salary!). As you said, taking “It takes an average of 2 years for most businesses to turn a profit” as gospel can lead to a sense of hopelessness. After all, why try if the odds are so far out of our favor?

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