Them: “Good ideas. Let’s move forward. How many of you are there?”
Me: “It’s just me.”
… an all too familiar conversation. Are you big enough? Good enough? Do you have the scale to deliver? It’s time to change the rhetoric. Entrepreneurs are constantly fed success stories from Silicon Valley pertaining to fast growth. I commend and champion those who achieve large team numbers fast, but there is a reassuring truth for the majority: there doesn’t have to be ten of you to achieve well.
The proliferation of digital services, remote working and outsourcing opportunities means you no longer have to be big to be great. I, like many other solopreneurs, have adopted a lean mind set to keep costs down. The result? Breaking even early, getting into profit and regularly paying myself a small dividend. As I embark on my first solopreneur city break, I penned my thoughts on multitasking for solopreneurs. Here’s my top 5 truths:
1. You’re not as self-disciplined as you think you are
I spent the first few months telling myself ‘if there’s one thing I’m good at it’s self-discipline’. Months later I’m snoozing 4 alarms each morning. The work-smart-not-hard mind set is critical, but don’t be conned into thinking you don’t need a routine. Whether you’re waking later or getting to bed earlier, you must develop realistic and sustainable habits. Stick to them and live by them.
2. Be a master of plate spinning
You’re not an employee. This isn’t about being someone’s bitch; it’s more about you not making yourself your own bitch. In the early days the struggle is real. You have to do it all: the invoices, selling, buying and the social. But don’t fret, over time it becomes second nature; after all, practice makes perfect.
3. Become a Hustler
Nobody tells you this. You hear about business planning but like most elements of life, things seldom go to plan. Before you met your current spouse did you have a plan on how you were going to meet them? Of course not. Business is the same. Be different, be memorable and get yourself out there. Be prepared to play the game. Network. Use Social platforms. Be visible. Be a pain. Be a hustler.
4. Time management 101: forget the Inbox
Somebody once said to me: ‘your inbox is someone else’s to-do list’. Indeed, if I’m a slave to anything, it’s e-mail replies. To avoid, adopt this hack: block activity. Gather the email replies, write the emails Sunday afternoon, then block send on Monday. Leave for a few hours and come back to a few replies and block reply again. Be proactive, not reactive.
5. Nobody tells you how it’s going to be
We hear lots on the Ubers and Airbnbs of today, yet very little on those flying solo. Don’t be disheartened – work with what you’ve got. Utilise your network and contacts to the best of your abilities. With my own cash (or lack of), passion and work I’ve taken something and grown it into a small engine room of customer acquisition for emerging brands and media agencies. No fast growth and certainly no biting off more than I can chew. But it’s something. Something I created single handedly. And something I can be proud of.