Four Must-Haves Solopreneurs Need But Don’t Know It

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When you start out as a solopreneur, you know you need the usual business essentials to operate professionally: computer, phone, printer, Internet, paper, and so on and so forth. Now in my eighth year of self-employment, I’ve discovered other assets I originally didn’t realize could be so important. Slightly obscure, they might have fallen below your radar, too.


Four Business Essentials You Might Not Realize You Need


  • A really good umbrella

By all accounts, I’m blessed. Our family has the good fortune to be financially secure; we have what we need and can (within reason) get what we want. BUT we have the most pathetic umbrellas at our house. There’s only one that I’m not mortified to use in public. The others are obnoxious red and white umbrellas the telecom company I once worked for offered as promotional freebies for its now non-existent Internet service provider division. After a recent rainy spell here in eastern Pennsylvania (during which my 9th-grade daughter forgot our only respectable umbrella in her locker at school), I realized I should invest in several more decent umbrellas. It’s a matter of pride—and professional appearance. Own umbrellas that won’t make you look and feel like a panhandler.


  • Kick-@s$ closet hangers

Upon launching my freelance business in 2010, I quickly learned being organized personally helps keep all professional endeavors in order, too. What I didn’t realize, however, is how much of a difference a well-designed hanger can make. Fortunately, a colleague recently introduced me to Joy Mangano Huggable Hangers. No more jungle of jumbled wire and bulky plastic hangers that crowd our limited space and let my outfits slip to the floor. I’ve replaced all hangers in our bedroom walk-in closet and my daughter’s closet with these gems, and I’m in the process of swapping out every last hanger in our entire house with them.


I’m obsessed.

With more free space in my closet, I can find what I want to wear more easily, and my clothes don’t get wrinkly while hanging. These hangers have saved me time and made it much easier to get out the door on time for meetings. If you have a closet that needs a revamp, definitely check them out.


  • A spritz of confidence

Nobody wants to think about this, and I can hardly believe I’m writing about it, but here it “goes.” When you’re on the go and have to go, Poo-Pourri lets you do it in stealth mode. I bought a bottle and intended it as a gag gift for a family Christmas gift swap a few years ago. Intrigued by the concept, I tried it first. The s%@t works (pun intended). Why would anyone ever want to leave home without it? The company sells 2-ounce bottles that you can easily fit into laptop bags or handbags.


  • Wiggle room

Despite how well you plan your project schedule, some tasks will require more time than you anticipate they will, and unexpected phone calls, tech issues, etc. will occasionally happen. If you jam-pack your day down to the minute, you’ll never have a buffer zone to address those sorts of surprises. The solution, add some wiggle room (empty slots of time) into your calendar every day. It’s a sanity saver!


Nothing fancy above—just practical items that I’ve found can make a difference professionally.


What underappreciated must-haves would you add to the list?


Clear the Clutter – How to Straighten Up Your Solopreneur Act this Spring

As solopreneurs, there’s A LOT we need to keep tabs on. Marketing best practices, prospects and leads, our client


Ready to clear the clutter, solopreneurs?

records, accounting details, and on and on and on it goes. We save this. We save that. Some things we save because we absolutely know we’ll need them. Others we save simply because we think there may come a time when we’ll need them. It doesn’t take very long for all the stuff (paper and electronic) to pile up.

With the spring season just around the corner, why not put a little spring cleaning on your agenda to help weed through the mountains of “save for a rainy day” odds and ends that you’ve accumulated? Sure, it takes a little time and effort upfront, but shedding that extra “winter weight” will help you operate a more agile solo-business.

Here are a few ideas about where to begin…

Business Cards Be Gone

If you’ve got a pile anywhere in close proximity to your desk (I know you do!), grab it now and look at each card one-by-one. As you do, ask yourself these questions and consider taking the actions suggested…

  • Do I already have this person’s info in my email contact list or am I connected with them on Linkedin? If yes, toss the card. If no, ask yourself the next question…
  • Do I want – or would it be professionally advantageous for me – to add this person to my email contacts and to Linkedin? If yes, add them – then toss the card. If no, just toss the card.

Farewell Flyers and Brochures

Got a collection of other businesses’ flyers and brochures taking up valuable real estate on your shelves or file cabinet? Like business cards, you’ve probably acquired an impressive supply of these types of marketing materials from other local companies. Time to grab that stack of collateral and, for each piece, ask…

  • Does this company have a website that provides the same info? If yes, toss the brochure. (And if it’s a company you definitely want to keep on your radar, either bookmark their website or connect with them on their social media channels). If no, ask yourself the next question…
  • Is this company one that I could see myself doing business with either as a customer, partner or vendor within the next 6 months? If yes, save the brochure somewhere where you can easily retrieve it. If no, toss it.

Ax Antiquated Emails

Not only is it easy to let print materials take over much-needed space in your office, electronic files can just as easily bog you down by making you sift through stuff that you no longer need. Sure, it’s helpful to keep email strings on hand for reference purposes, but at some point certain pieces of correspondence become no longer relevant or necessary. Though it’s your call to make regarding when it’s appropriate to delete particular communications with clients, you could safely start to get rid of unneeded baggage by going through your email folders and deleting past messages in email strings that have more current messages intact (which include the message you’re deleting). Just be careful that you first save any needed files or documents that were attached to the soon-to-be disposed of messages.

Ditch Duplicate Documents

Sorting through documents and files to distinguish keepers from those that you can comfortably kick to the curb can be daunting. A simple and less time-consuming way to get started is to actively look for drafts that were saved, but that have a more current version also preserved. I’ll often save drafts of the content that I’m working on for clients by saving the document with the date I’m submitting it to them for review. Then, when I make and send requested changes, I save the document as a new file with the same name, but with a more recent date or a remark to indicate that it’s a “final” version. Provided the project is here and gone, that makes it easy for me to quickly identify which files are “old” and no longer needed. You’d be amazed how much memory you can free up on your hard drive by visiting just a few folders and cleaning house by applying that approach!

Of course, there are many other ways to clear clutter and eliminate the mess of too much stuff in your physical and electronic business space. I welcome you to share your own “spring cleaning” tips and ideas – because there’s no such thing as a too-organized solopreneur!

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