Solopreneurship can be a huge challenge for even the most seasoned entrepreneurs. So, to help you navigate those bumpy solopreneurship waters, I have asked the CarolRoth.com contributor network of entrepreneurs, advisors and experts to share what they think is the biggest challenge facing solopreneurs. Their answers are presented below in no particular order.
You may notice some of the same ideas listed, but I kept them separate, as something in the way one is framed may resonate differently with you.
1. Seeds or Harvest?
Since most of us solopreneurs believe we can do it all and with excellence, our biggest challenge is managing the seeding and harvesting functions. We seed business by marketing/selling. Then, we harvest it by doing the work. While we harvest, we stop seeding. And that means there's nothing else to harvest when we finish with that cycle.
Figure out which you're better at--seeding or harvesting. Then, go find someone to help with the other.
Watch your harvest grow at least a hundred times.
2. The Collaboration Crisis
Leveraging your skills and talents when you are a one-(wo)man-band is the toughest challenge for any solopreneur. So, why don't more of us collaborate? It would enhance the value proposition to clients, spread the daily duties around, and increase the potential to get new and different kinds of work. And yet, "I do it all by myself," is the battle cry I hear from most singleton shops. Let that go—and find good partners. It's the only way to fly in 2012 and beyond.
3. Don't Go it Alone
Being a solopreneur can be an isolating experience. If you're like me, you have no colleagues -- only clients and vendors.
To beat this, I devote between five to ten hours a week on maintaining my professional network.
I email and call folks. I also forward articles that may interest them.
I do my best to have coffee or lunch at least once a week with one of my contacts.
I see these activities as real work. They help me maintain my sanity -- and sometimes lead to new business.
4. Forgetting to Sell!
The key missing thrust for most entrepreneurs is that their most concentrated efforts MUST be focused on SELLING their product or service and marketing to the absolute target client. When most people begin a business, it's out of love, passion, interest, a calling - whatever - BUT what I MOST often hear from new entrepreneurs that I coach is that they are uncomfortable with their need to always sell. This critical skill will make or break your business in the long run.
5. Bright Shiny Object Syndrome
As an entrepreneur, I suffer from Bright Shiny Object Syndrome. I want to do this project, so I start doing research on it. Then, I want to do that project, so I start doing research on that. Oh, wait, what about this other project? See what I mean?
Having lots of good ideas is good, but only if you can sit still long enough to implement them without getting distracted by the next big idea!
By definition, a SOLOpreneur must be aware of and alert to all aspects of running their business from making the phone ring & development of market share (the fun stuff in my opinion) to paying the bills. I find sometimes I 'go' ADD (attention deficit disorder) while working one aspect and realize that I may be neglecting something else. In short, it comes down to focus and time management.
7. Solotrepreneurial Challenges
The key is to outsource and delegate anything that is not essential. Then, follow up and give positive support as you tweak the work that has been done. Micromanaging a project seldom works and if the project is large enough, you will paralyze your creative process by micromanaging. If you cannot delegate, then learn how to use technology more effectively.
8. Support Department Gone AWOL
When you strike out on your own, there are a few things you will miss- IT support, someone to bounce ideas off of in the next cubicle, a boss to make the hard decisions, the legal department to keep you out of trouble, and the accounting department that used to save you from all that pesky stuff. You are on your own - just you, your God and your PJs.
9. Not Every Hat Fits
Solopreneurs may find themselves trying to wear all of the company hats: marketing, accounting, web designer and service provider. But creatives aren't always good at keeping books and financial advisors might not be very good at marketing. Hats can become a major challenge! Bartering or trades can work, especially for start-ups. Outsourcing should be considered later on. Just don't let a "hat" hold you back...because it can...and will. Find a way to hand off that hat to someone who wears it well.
10. Talking to Yourself
When you work alone, day fades into night and before you know it; your work is your life. Without social interaction, you start to talk to yourself, to your computer, to the plants, and to the printer. It's a hard habit to break. Even when surrounded by others, you sound like the Howard Cosell of daily living!
11. 60 Seconds to Keep Your Focus
Sense when you drift. Then, immediately put your focus back on what's most important. It only takes a few seconds to leave 'randomland' and get back to your purpose. Practice this discipline many times daily and you'll get more important work done every day. Best of all, it only takes a minute!
12. I Need a 60 Hour Day!
As a solopreneur you do everything, from writing a proposal to implementing it. How do you find time to do everything you need to do; work on projects and find new business? It's very careful time management. You need to schedule everything you do - put it on your calendar. If a client calls while you're working on another project, call them back. If you exercise in the morning, don't take client calls. Keep to your schedule or you'll go nuts fast! Excuse me; it's my time to empty the trash.
13. Don't Let Yourself Go
If you work from home and don't have plans to go out, avoid the temptation of just wearing pajamas while at your desk. Why? Because you'll soon turn yourself into a hermit and quickly destroy your social life.
Realizing that work and private life are two separate things is one of the biggest challenges for solopreneurs. Don’t be a victim of laziness and try to work from home like you would in a real office in downtown. And in any case, you never know who's going to knock at your door...
14. What? More Technology
Like a mouse on a wheel, the faster a solo entrepreneur goes, the more she realizes how much more there is to learn. Without staying on top of the latest trends in technology, one can quickly be labeled a business person who is, "Behind the times." My advice--build into your schedule, each week, a time when you will focus on learning how to use a new application of technology. Then, practice it, so it becomes easy for you to incorporate into your work day.
15. Taking Care of Yourself
When everything's on your shoulders, it's easy to skip taking care of your biggest asset- yourself! Meetings and clients and deadlines and family all compete for your attention. And then one day, you take a look in the mirror and see something bad- a tired, unhappy, and unhealthy person you'd swear is 5 years older than you. That's why in 2012, I'm making a point to work out daily and meditate more. If you're on your own, you need to take care of yourself. Health is primary.
16. Clone Yourself
Solopreneurs MUST clone themselves to be successful. Why? Because when you're a solopreneur, you are either marketing or working. When you are working (making money), you aren't marketing; when you are marketing, you're not making money. Thus, you have a choice to either clone yourself so that you can do both simultaneously or...you have to develop your professional network to market on your behalf, constantly, so you can do what you do best; constantly.
17. Lost on LinkedIn
The biggest challenge I see lately with solopreneurs is that they are lost on LinkedIn and don't know how to properly use LinkedIn to network and grow their businesses. Many solopreneurs are under the misconception that LinkedIn is a platform to sell their products or services, and they end up losing connections as a result. Or, they become frustrated and give up on LinkedIn altogether. Solopreneurs are missing the boat by not taking advantage of the powerful benefits of LinkedIn.
18. Cast Your Net Wide
Before I was a solopreneur, I had a staff of four great women with whom I could bounce ideas, brainstorm, and gain perspective. Our weekly staff meetings were often energized and fun. A seemingly crazy idea sometimes opened up a whole new way of seeing something.
I miss that interaction, so I've cast a wide net and have found other small business owners with whom I can exchange information, bounce ideas, and support each other. In so doing, I've come to realize that I do need that input.
19. Get Stuff Done!!
The biggest challenge or issue I see small business owners make is in the area of implementation and execution. There simply isn't enough getting done and they are so easily distracted by the new, shiny object or idea that comes along. Time blocking is a great way to focus and almost force yourself to get more done. Block your time to do certain things & then do that one thing and nothing else during that time. No phone, email or other distractions will help you Get Stuff Done!
20. One is the Loneliest Number
As the famous Three Dog Night song says, One is the Loneliest Number that you'll ever do! Business is very challenging when you have only one - one source of leads, one product to sell or market, and certainly, only one person to make it all happen.
A great tip for all the challenges faced by the solopreneur is to begin using virtual assistants for your lower dollar value activities. By outsourcing these, you give yourself the time to focus on the activities that make you the most money.
21. How Do You Stop Yourself?
As entrepreneurs, we get in our own way, slowing down progress toward our own success. Let's face it; many entrepreneurs have great ideas, but lack follow through. Many believe they ought to be doing everything themselves. Or you love doing the technical aspect but hate marketing. Each scenario is a reason that entrepreneurial businesses fail.
So, think about how you might be stopping yourself and who might have the solution to your problem.
22. Time to Grow?
I would say that the biggest challenge of any solopreneur is knowing when or if it is time to stop being solo. Many solopreneurs can do amazing things for large clients based on knowing their limitations and when it is time to bring in contracted help. The trick is knowing when it is time to move beyond this framework and build the processes to expand. Time is your most valuable commodity and knowing your objectives and your limitations are key to deciding how to move forward in business.
23. No One is an Island!
The biggest thing that can derail any entrepreneur who works alone is their failure to create a network of people who give them feedback on a daily basis. Otherwise, you go off making decisions that could actually hurt your company. Entrepreneurs have great energy and passion for their ideas, but frequently imagine that they know everything about everything. They don't. It's a gift to truly know what you don't know and thus, create ways to get the needed expertise to grow your biz.
24. Do the Behavior to Get Results
I think the biggest challenge facing a solopreneur is self motivation. Business plans, goals, working capital, etc. are all very important. However, none of those matter if you don’t get up in the morning with the right attitude.
The solopreneur has to “do the behavior” for whatever the business requires. If you sell, you have to make a certain number of daily sales calls. If you work from home - shower, dress, and get into your home office at the same time you would if you had a job.
25. Walking the Tightrope
The biggest challenge for me is balancing between focus & doing everything myself. As a "soloprenuer" I tend to do all aspects of my business myself, rather than outsourcing them, however, then I have trouble focusing on projects & completing them because I am doing too many things at once. I was forced to start using a simple chart & kitchen timer to organize and structure my day better - my next step will be to figure out what to have outsourced. For me, it is an ongoing work-in-progress!
26. No One is Good at Everything
The biggest challenge is that you can't be good at everything. Even Michael Jordan had a team and a coach. The key is to build a team of people who share your passion and vision for your business. Often, that is someone who has already done what you want to do. Who better to help you build a path way to success? Find people who are good at what you're not good at and trade services. Form a board of directors who can help you. I am meeting mine tonight! Always remember, "Never ever never give up!"
27. Think Like a Business
After years of freelancing, working in corporate jobs and starting businesses, I've learned the importance of thinking like a business and not as a freelancer or solopreneur. For example, you need to calculate all expenses, time and overhead, and then set prices and present them to the client. Don't just take a job because someone offers to pay you something.
28. Physically Switch Hats
Switching hats is often difficult for solopreneurs. Sometimes, making a physical change helps make the transition smoother. Here are some examples: Prepare your mail-outs in a different place than where you do your core business. Do your accounting every Wednesday. Wear something like a uniform when you are doing production work. Do writing tasks at the library. Find a comfortable place to hold client meetings.
29. No Team/Partner Leverage
One of the biggest challenges that face solopreneurs is not being able to access and leverage the wisdom, skills, and experience of a partner or team. Hence, the solopreneur may more frequently face doubts or dips in confidence in their own skills or their venture as a whole. Some 'treps work better solo and they certainly can succeed on their own, but they must have an action plan of who they can lean on, not if, but WHEN, they experience this kind of discouragement.
30. Biggest Challenge
I believe the biggest challenge that an entrepreneur has to face is the bright shiny objects that keep popping up in front of them. Because they are so passionate, when something comes along that looks like it's going to be the next big hit or someone promises you that it is the next best thing, sidetracking happens.
31. Benefits of the Competition
The biggest challenge for me in the very beginning was not worrying about what the competition was doing or how successful they were. Focusing on your own goals in your unique way will get you noticed. Besides, did you know that for the most part, 'the competition' really isn't something you should steer clear of? Some of my greatest colleagues do exactly what I do. It's great to have people you can trust to bounce ideas off of, even if they're not directly associated with your company.
32. All Roads Lead to Rome? Maybe
The biggest challenge for solopreneurs today is deciding which road to follow, which course is the right one. All seem tempting and virtually all make compelling arguments (especially if someone wants you to pay for your choice.) The reality is that deep inside, solopreneurs know the right course of action and must follow that inner guidance. This eliminates having faith or hoping that something is the right choice, all of which saves endless time, money, and effort.
33. Keeping Your Energy Up!
Finding time to eat healthy is a huge challenge. Solution: I carry a FULL bag of small, nutritious, prepared-at-home mini-meals with me to keep my energy in high gear all day long. My favs: salad, hummus for dressing, cut-up fresh fruit and veggies, celery with peanut butter, a refillable water bottle, and a cooked sweet potato. Plan ahead. Save time. Eat well.
34. Lack People Skills!!!
There are highly-skilled business professionals who lack people skills. Consumers are more likely to do business with someone who has a pleasant personality than they are with someone who does not. If you have a strong personality, which can be mistaken for abrasiveness, be especially mindful of how you interact with customers until they become acquainted with you and have reached a level of comfort with your personality.
35. Selling vs. Doing
Doing limits time for selling, and selling limits time for doing. Reaching the correct balance between the two is the solopreneur's never ending challenge.
36. Find Entrepreneur Groups
I suggest face to face entrepreneur groups with like minded entrepreneurs. Since I sell a product, I like to meet with other entrepreneurs who are more interested in sharing business ideas than making me their customer.
37. Zombie Accounts Payable
Since the 2008 crash, the three biggest issues that I see are cash flow, cash flow, and cash flow. Companies, especially larger ones, have become shameless about slow-rolling contracts and invoices. (The work, of course, still needs to be done yesterday.)
This is why I am militant that you need (a) a strong cash position and (b) a good mix of clients and projects to be a successful solopreneur. When you can keep smiling in a slow-pay world, you win!
38. Missing the Water Cooler
One of the biggest challenges of being a sole proprietor is the loneliness that accompanies it. Especially around holiday time, as other companies have office parties, maybe summertime as they have company picnics, you may begin to wonder why you left society to be a hermit! At these times, reach out to a friend; ask if they can bring a guest to their office function. Have fun and laughs, listen to them complain about their work environment, and you will remember why you struck out on your own!
39. It's Just Me, So What...
The biggest danger to a solopreneur is wimpy self esteem. The idea that "it's just me" leads to all kinds of dangers like snacking when you should be returning calls, dressing in sweats when you have that big coffee meeting, and in general, minimizing your contribution to your own business. When you are a one person show, it can be tempting to play down everything. Shout your victories to the hills; face your problems head on. It may be just you, but you are an entrepreneur, a rare breed.
40. Missing the Boat
Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to see. We do it every day and don't know what we are doing and therefore, we never quite get to where we could.
The ONE biggest challenge: Learning how to negotiate great and more profitable agreements like a master. Nothing is more important and yet the old adage prevails, "Many are called and few are chosen."
41. Mobile Mania Marketing
Understanding how to be mobile and then, to integrate mobile technology into one's marketing plan while avoiding the mania (fear to overload postings, Tweets, updates, etc.) associated with mobile marketing (content marketing, local searches to social media) is one of the greatest challenges for solopreneurs. This requires identifying other strategic resources, as well as a personal commitment to continually learning about this marketing strategy.
42. Avoid Solopreneur Failure?
90% of ALL solopreneurs fail because they fail to recognize that their real business is marketing and sales. We work with professionals and contractors and they all think that being good at what they do is all that matters. Wrongo! You have to be good at marketing and creating sales, otherwise you'll fail too.
43. Get Dressed & Show Up
Working from home on your own can cause laziness. If you treat it like a hobby, you'll have hobby results, so treat it like a business. Get up, get dressed and go to work. The act of being dressed will set this time apart from doing household chores, reading the paper and drinking coffee. Yes, you have the luxury of working in your pjs, but when you are dressed for work, you're more likely to leave the house, network and connect with clients.
44. Solopreneur Sanity Using Heart
Providing revolutionary solutions to evolutionary entrepreneurs, I see solopreneurs struggling to adapt to the moving target of new methods of marketing with heart. It isn't a passing fad or something one can fake. It must be based in a genuine desire to serve. Use the 5 Elemental Facets of Heart-focused Copywriting:
1. Be real + inject your personality
2. Highlight benefits to the reader
3. Focus on creating a heart connection
4. Use transparent language
5. Offer only products with true value
45. Consistency Counts!
The biggest challenge facing solopreneurs is consistency. They begin a blog, social media presence, e-newsletter, or networking membership and are active for a few weeks or months, but then disappear when life gets in the way. Results only happen when you're consistent. Consistency shows others that we're dependable, credible, and serious in our intentions. Stand out by being consistent, because most people aren't!
46. Not About 'Me' Marketing
#1 challenge: Being a solopreneur is, in itself, the biggest challenge. No one can do it alone. Assistants, outsourcing and alliances are critical if you want to stay in business.
#2 challenge: Most solopreneurs tend to market to a general niche. It’s better to market to very specific needs of the niche marketplace.
47. Keep Your Ear to the Ground
Solopreneurs run the risk of not listening to the marketplace because they tend to every detail of their businesses. It is critical to stay in touch with what customers and prospects are talking about. As a business coach, I require my clients to schedule at least one breakfast, lunch and dinner or drinks out per week with business professionals. These three outings keep them in touch with the pulse in the business community that they serve.
48. "Lonely @ the Top (Sometimes)"
32 years ago, when I started my own business, at first I really missed the company of my work group around me. It was JUST ME!
Today, business networking on the internet has changed all that. Today, a solopreneur can reach out and have instant communication, even by video email and video conference.
So today, "Lonely at the Top" is only a "sometimes thing".
49. Only God Can Do it All!
One huge challenge facing solopreneurs is that they try to do everything. If they are struggling financially, they don't hire the folks that they need to, so they can be free to do the things that they do best and the things that are needed. That's called under-financed...BIG mistake.
Doing the work of the CEO, the manager and the technician will never allow the solopreneur to grow. The solopreneur needs structure and support.
50. The Most Important Item
The most important challenge today is the ability, know-how and courage to get business.
51. There is Only One of You
If only you could get 26 hours in a day! When there is only one of you, it's easy to feel overwhelmed and inertia could set in.
Solution: Outsource what eats up your time or causes you pain and do the best with what you have.
52. Be Professional
If you work from home, be sure to draw a definitive line between home and work space and the responsibilities associated with each. Get fully dressed every day (including hair, shoes & makeup) just as if you were going to an office. Stay organized: impress your clients by returning messages personally and promptly. And don’t isolate yourself – attend seminars and conferences that keep your skills sharp, and join professional organizations that allow you to interact with others in your field.
53. Stop Before You Think
Most solopreneurs are superheroes. They do it all. However, while they're doing it all, they often lack the time (and energy) to take a step back, disconnect and then think about their businesses. Most owners know it's important to work on their businesses (be it through brainstorming, consulting with others, professional development, etc.). It's also important to take enough time away from everything, do something different/unrelated and gain perspective before looking at the business again.
54. Best Thing for Solopreneurs
Being a "Solopreneur" does not mean you have to do it alone. Working from a home office or office space by yourself can make you feel isolated and lonely. The best thing to do is to connect with like-minded entrepreneurs through networking, social media and business organizations that support your business needs. It is important that you are a part of a group that is inclusive and understanding of your type of business. These sources should provide services to help you grow your business.
55. When You're in a Body Cast...
When you're in a body cast is NOT the only time you should ask for help. Solopreneurs think we can go it alone and do it all. Instead, we need to assemble a team of professionals in a business mastermind or board of advisors and let them give us new ideas, contacts, and ways of doing things! We also need to HIRE people--interns, folks on elance.com, family members with relevant expertise, etc. Only when we stop trying to pretend that we are the expert in everything will we really have success.
56. Developing New Business
Most soloprenuers rely solely on marketing and social networking to generate new business. Marketing requires a prospect to contact you. By proactively building a network of referrals and leads generation you can proactively contact prospects. Offer your network a commission for leads resulting in orders. This is much more powerful than marketing or social networking! Unfortunately, most solprenuers do not do this.
57. But it's ALL Important!
I believe that the biggest challenge for a solopreneur is deciding what gets done when it's ALL important and there are only so many hours in a day!
So, how does one decide where to focus his/her energy? Ask yourself:
1. What are the goals I am trying to reach, and, does this task get me closer to that goal? If not, let it go. If so, focus energy on it.
2. Can someone else take care of this? If not, determine how soon it needs to be done and add it to your list by priority. If so, hand it off!
58. What is Your Why?
As someone who specializes in working with solo professionals and building their businesses, I have to say that the biggest challenge I hear from the most people is that they do not have an explicit understanding of the why behind what they are doing. Understanding why you have selected your chosen path is essential to delivering your message. This, of course, translates to your Brand development, marketing, products and even defines your tribe. Look within and you will find your answers there.
59. My Dog Can't Talk Back
The biggest challenge is collaboration, aka bouncing ideas off someone else as soon as they come to me. I will exclaim, "What do you think about..." and then realize that my dog Kali may listen, but alas, cannot respond. Solopreneurs just need to keep their train of thought and resort to IM, email or picking up the phone and calling that trusty peer.
60. So Many Hats...Just One Head
When you ARE your business, one of the hardest things to do is know which hat to wear...and how to describe yourself in a given situation.
Am I a Mompreneur, WAHM, or self-employed consultant?
Am I a nonprofit executive, the operations officer, or the fundraising director?
Bottom line: When am I NOT all of those things at the same time?
61. Solopreneurs - Make or Break
While the body may have left the cubicle, the brain can often be a little more stubborn and take its time to follow suit. Solopreneurs need to engage 'body and mind' for them to truly face their biggest challenge - the ability to understand that you need to work "hell yeah" longer than 9-5 to be a successful start-up.
62. Doing Your Non-Favorite Task
As a solopreneur, the toughest challenge is doing those tasks that are your least favorite to do. For some, that is bookkeeping. For others (believe it or not), it is sales and marketing. Some jobs can be farmed out - lots of accountants out there. But for those who are truly "solo", then it is simply buckle down and do it. There is a wonderful sense of accomplishment in completing an "unfavorite" task.
63. Get Help!
The biggest challenge that faces a Solopreneur is the lack of a checks and balances system. When there is more than one employee, ideas can be challenged and also, different perspectives are added to the mix. Solopreneurs need to make sure that they find their own method of gathering multiple perspectives and getting the opinions of others or else they will risk doing things that make no sense to everyone else.
64. Know When to Say NO!!
As a solopreneur, you may tend to take every job or client that is offered just because you need the money. This is a big mistake. Start out strong by accepting quality clients, customers, and you'll succeed. Take any old client and your business and your sanity will pay for it. Remember that since you are on your own, you are responsible for everything that comes out of your office- good or bad. Saying no is all right. Let yourself say it more often.
65. Not Letting Go of a Bad Idea
Many of us start out with an idea that we are so passionate about, but we need to do our due diligence to make sure that we have a profitable business idea. Once we find that an idea we had isn't profitable - it's time to let it go or at the least find a way to let it evolve into something that brings in revenue. Not letting go can keep a great solopreneur stuck at a low five figure profit and block the development of more profitable ideas.
66. Ticking Tech
A top challenge: keeping up with technology, both hardware and software.
For hardware, we must constantly make decisions about what to buy and when to upgrade. Investing too heavily in technology wastes needed capital; investing too little is shortsighted.
For software, we want to capitalize on social media but, for many, it seems like too much time is wasted based on the results. Solopreneurs need a plan that suits them, but it is hard to find an expert in tech and communication.
67. Know Your Target Market
I see marketing and understanding one's target market as being the biggest hurdle. If you know your market and customers and provide what they need AND want, the money will come. Many solopreneurs only see marketing as "advertising" and that's inaccurate. Instead of spreading the word to everyone with mass advertising, focus on the customers you really want and give them lots of attention. Good products and offerings that provide value to customers trump mass advertising.
68. Best Activity for Solopreneurs
The one biggest challenge facing Solopreneurs is lack of focus and knowing to ignore those 'distracting voices' in your head. Otherwise, you start jumping from one task to the next shiny opportunity, which is fruitless. Staying focused is the key to having a productive day, crossing off items on your to-do list and answering 'Yes, honey!' with a smile, when your partner phones to check in with you.
Being focused is fundamental to genuinely supporting others with their professional aims.
69. Picking Out Online Real Estate
The biggest challenge that solopreneurs have is maximizing their online visibility, especially if they are fairly new to social media. Virtual Visibility is not just about having a website anymore, so solopreneurs have to figure out where the best place for their business to be visible online is and then, what content is best delivered. This can become even more complicated being a solo since you won't have a social media "team" to maintain it consistently.
70. Challenges for Solopreneurs
Working from home for the last decade or so is one of the best things I've ever done. But let's be honest; it can be daunting. As I look around the apartment, I see the dishes that need to be washed, the carpet desperate to get the vacuum's attention and the paperwork I'm determined to get to. Luckily, these days I've outgrown my work ADD because I love my work. (Sigh) now if I can just get to the dishes...
Tony Wilkins of TCS Inc
71. Winning the Talent War
Are you a busy solopreneur who wonders if you should hire help or a specific talent to expand the business? If so, start by answering one question: “How much is my time worth?”
When you have an answer, ask two more questions:
1. “If I get help, can my focus move to capturing new business?”
2. “Can I afford not to?”
If it is time to explore part-time talent or project help, consider checking out: guru.com or elance.com to start a pilot program.
Entrepreneurs need to know technology and they feel overwhelmed by it. I’ve witnessed the incredible transformations that only technology can trigger — wild product launches that uplevel your tax bracket, unstoppable buzz + media opportunities, and the rock-steady confidence that comes when you truly understand the how-tos and how-comes of building + marketing your business online.
73. Your Timing is Key to Success
One of the biggest challenges is time management. You have to know when to work in your business for the daily activities and when to step back and work on your business to make it grow and be profitable. You have to know what you can do yourself and when to bring a outsourced person or company to help you succeed. If you do it all yourself, you can burn out. Ask for suggestions or help when you need it.
74. What Does Your Market Crave?
The key challenge to solopreneurs is a lack of market validation for their ideas, products, and services. Many don't know what the market needs; they don't ask what the market wants, while others don't hear what the market is saying. This creates waves of unproductive activity, lots of unnecessary spending on tools and techniques, and drains the owner's time and energy. That next new thing is going to be THE magic bullet to success, but unfortunately this often leads only to more thrashing about.
75. The Power of Powell
The biggest challenge is remaining "up" when profit lines are heading down. General Colin Powell offers hope: "Optimism is a force-multiplier." And, recent research by Suzanne Segerstrom at the University of Kentucky found that your immune system gains strength as your outlook on life improves. So, gather your forces, find reasons to be optimistic, and go forth and multiply your client list and your revenues!
76. Clutter Clogs Your Cash Flow
Living and working in cluttered homes and offices negatively impact your life and your business in four major ways: time, money, health and safety. Many business owners are so disorganized and so overwhelmed that they fail to invoice their clients in a timely manner or they fail to invoice them at all. This is really bad for the bottom-line. De-clutter, get organized and set up systems. Document your systems with checklists. Get organized and start watching your energy and cash flow grow.
77. I've Been Lonely Too Long!
Most of the time, awwww, it's time to think without interruptions, no funky odors or strange sounds from colleagues. The reality is that we need an incredible amount of discipline and focus to stay on course, because it's easy to wander. The challenge is to remain focused and disciplined in a solopreneur world.
78. Boundaries Not Balance...
Work-Life balance is impossible. The avg. American works an 8 hr day & gets 8 hrs of sleep. Solopreneurs are expected to cram everything else into the remaining 8 hrs; thus making balance impossible. Strive instead for boundaries by creating transition rituals. This will help you be present in the moment. When you're at work, you're at work and when you're home, you're home. (Ex. use a ritual of showering when you get home to symbolically wash the problems of the work day down the drain.)
79. Being the 'Jack of All Trades'
The hardest part about being a solopreneur is being a 'Jack of All Trades'. When you own a business with no employees, you must handle every position within the company by yourself. That includes being the Business Manager, Financial Manager, Marketing & Sales Manager, etc. It's important to understand that you can't do everything on your own and you must know that outsourcing is an option, even for the simplest tasks.
80. Choose Wisely and Then Let Go
I'm tempted to "do it all" because it often seems easier than training someone else to do it. My challenge is to be a small part of ALL aspects of my business while delegating the actual responsibility to other CAREFULLY CHOSEN and well-suited individuals. The secret is in honing in on their strengths and preferences and capitalizing on them with good training...and then LETTING THEM GO to do their job.
81. It's ALL on ME!
The ONE biggest challenge for me when I started my own Delivery Service was the realization that EVERYTHING was sitting squarely upon MY shoulders: I had to do the work, do the advertising, do the billing, etc.
The most exciting part of running my own Delivery Service is the realization that EVERYTHING is sitting squarely upon my shoulders: I do all of the work, I do all of the advertising, I do all of the billing, etc.
82. Excited as Stuff Collapses
YOU must stay excited on YOUR solo venture. If YOU do not stay excited, YOU will emotionally collapse in pursuit of YOUR dream. One day, I sent out 30 requests to get radio interviews. The return was 0 responses. OUCH! Not exactly a way to feel enthralled. I learned that it's ok to have strike out days. NO ONE hits 1000% in the response game. So, STAY excited! Keep pushing! Keep the direction as FORWARD. Is it worth it in the long run? ABSOLUTELY.
83. Tweet Your Marketing
The biggest challenge facing most solopreneurs is probably finding or taking time to market their business, especially when the business is themselves. This is why strategic and active participation on Twitter can be a solopreneur's best friend in terms of marketing -- simply tweet while standing in line at the grocery store or picking up your child at school or wherever. Retweet others and share links to good information.
84. Single Parenting a Business
The biggest challenge of being a solo is also the biggest gift: being alone. There is the excitement of the freedom and sense that I can do anything that I want to do. I am not responsible to anyone else. There is also the challenge of not having anyone else who is quite on the line in the same way. No one else stays up at night, thinking about my business the way I do. It is like being a single parent. All of the work, all of the joys, and all of the responsibility fall on my shoulders.
85. It's About Making Money
All too often, because we love what we're doing, too much is given away for free by owners “thinking" that people will love their services and buy. However, free begets free. It's better to be paid all you are worth from the get-go. Do this by figuring out who your ideal clients are and put yourself where they hang out. Don't go for 2nd best. Earn what you deserve to be paid.
86. Ignoring the Money
Money loves attention! When you ignore it in your business, money will ignore you. To attract financial abundance and financial success as a soloprenuer, you must know and understand the numbers of your business. Setting up simple processes that allow you to track, monitor, and review what's coming in and what's going out is critical to having a profitable and sustainable business. Paying attention to the money in your business allows you to make more money and keep more of the money you earn!
87. Rocket Launcher Accountability
As a solopreneur, the idea of keeping oneself accountable is a real challenge. Seek out 2-3 other solopreneurs and agree to keep each other accountable. Meet regularly, share goals and actions, and review them each meeting. Just the thought of saying "I didn't get it done" will keep you on track. This is one of the biggest reasons CEOs stay involved with my CEO groups. The group keeps them accountable and highly productive!
88. Email = Brain vs. Business
Our Human Brain is hard wired to focus on threats, problems and danger. Your Brain loves putting out fires. This tendency is built into the brain at its deepest level.
You play right into this weakness when you open your email first thing in the morning. Your brain sees little fires everywhere, while your business is crying out for you to concentrate on what you are building.
In the morning ask: what is the big thing that will grow your business today?
Do that first, email can wait!
89. Are You Open for Business?
Too often, solopreneurs have not set core business hours for themselves- time set for working on strategic and income producing work or client work.
Core business hours are not the time for catching up on laundry, running errands, meeting a friend for lunch or doing other household chores.
Having a starting and ending time for your business day will give you greater life balance, help with focus, and allow for personal time, so solopreneurs don't feel like they are working all the time.
90. Am I Prone to a Heart Attack?
One of the many challenges that I personally face as a solopreneur is being a Type A personality. I have a hard time letting go of the reigns and having someone else manage for a bit, in fear of something going wrong. At the end of the day, I feel responsible for what my brand is and what it represents. To let go and relax is hard. So, I may just be prone to a heart attack!
91. Hat or Pass
Do you wear 1,000 hats or invest in paying an expert? It was worth it to me to hire Direct Online Marketing to do SEO for me. They got me to the top of google, so I can concentrate on what I do best.
92. The Big D Dilemma
The biggest challenge I have as a solo entrepreneur in a service business (sales training) is having to split my time between delivering programs and speeches and developing new business. When I do one, I can't be doing the other (except of course, when doing good work automatically leads to more business). Deliver-Develop. Develop-Deliver. Time spent in one area diminishes time spent in the other.
93. Defend Your Reputation!
All we solopreneurs have to effectively market ourselves is our reputations. We develop that vital quality by our proficiencies and our harmonious alignment to clients that is something like a dating game. In the search for client business, we may eagerly grasp for an opportunity, only to learn that it was a bad date.
Always remember that the client holds your reputation in their hands as much as you do, so be cautious and selective about whom your clients are, being mindful of their ethic.
94. Balancing Kids and Business
Being a single mom with five children, four of whom are homeschooled, my biggest challenge is distractions. They include noise of kids, the arguing, the wrestling, errands, and cleaning. Focusing on my business is challenging. I have to designate time to actually leave my home and get quiet to work. Booking a hotel room for a day or two to write and create seems to help me. I work after they sleep or I wake up extra early. As I write this, my seven year old wants to know what he can snack on!
95. Funding What Else...
Besides funding, lack of Strategic Alliances is one of the leading challenges facing Solopreneurs today. A Solopreneur myself, I've had to go it alone with everything from marketing, faxing, product developing, fulfillment and so much more. It wasn't until I began developing relationships with others inside & outside of my industry, did I see my business grow. Find someone you have synergy with and who's proficient in areas you're not (barter if you must); doing so will free your MIND!
The most challenging part of being a solopreneur can be the first part, solo. You wear many hats within your business - sales, marketing, front-office, back-office, president, worker bee, et al.
Knowing when to wear each hat, as well as when to set aside a hat, can be critical to your business and personal survival.
You can do it 24/7/365 but should you? That is a question only you can answer. The point of balance and the "tipping point" depend on your personal fulcrum point.
97. Fish and Incestuous Marketing
2 Surefire Ways to Destroy Your Business in 90 Days:
1. Fish chase after bright shiny objects. They also end up dead on the dinner plate. So do solopreneurs who chase the latest bright shiny object.
2. Incestuous Marketing - see what everyone in your niche is doing and copy them. Plus say "WE'RE BETTER!". About 93.7% of what most businesses do doesn't work. So, why copy them?
Antidote: Determine how you're different. Develop strategy and test if you can sell it small before advertising big.
98. Standing NAKED in the Storm
Solopreneurs struggle with how to produce consistent results. When they are comfortable standing NAKED in their storms, they journey through them more easily. Naked refers to the raw truth of who you are as you journey through professional (and personal) storms. When solopreneurs are comfortable standing naked in their storms, they have the unique ability to stand firm like an old oak tree, weather any circumstance well, and remain productive and effective in the moment, despite their circumstance.
99. Stay on Path!
The one biggest challenge is staying on path, because there are SO many kinds of distractions that can create havoc! Between miscellaneous networking events, doings in various social media spaces, news outlets, technology snafus, dealing with independent contractors, employees and a bulging inbox, vendors, selling, client work, etc. - staying organized and focused on your core mission and objectives can be the hardest thing to do!
100. Get Off Your Butt and Market!
The biggest challenge faced by most solopreneurs is getting their butts up out of the chair and going out to do business development. Solopreneurs are often brilliant at what they do, but fear selling what they do. The real crime is that many outstanding professionals never share their expertise as far and wide as they should. The best solution I've found for the problem is direct response marketing that pulls in the ideal client for the professional...so they don't have to sell.
101. Poor Definition of Business
Peter Drucker was the first to ask perhaps the greatest business question of all time; "what is our business?"
Solopreneurs do their own thing and this is both a blessing and a curse. It is a blessing because it is fun and a curse because several others like yourself are involved in a similar business. Then comes the problem of differentiation. How is your own thing different from my own thing when customers see us both as the same thing?
Until customers see a difference, they won't buy!
102. Do it, Ditch it or Delegate it
As a solopreneur or small business owner, you tend to spend a lot of time alone. And you tend to be in charge of everything, while you wear all of the hats. But you can't do it all...as David Allen reminds us, "you can do ANYthing, but you can't do EVERYthing." Know what you like doing, what you're good at doing, and what makes you money. Then, ditch or delegate the rest of the tasks...ditch what you don't need to do and delegate what you need help with. And don't be afraid to ask for help.
103. Got Time - Then Maximize it!!
Basic mindset: Work smarter, not harder.
-Plan your week
-Block your day
-Figure out what tasks actually pay you
-Figure out which hours are your productivity hours
-Keep a healthy balance between work and home
-Outsource tasks or hire an employee
Now that you are in the process of taking an outside look at your day and your activities, and you are aware that you need to have an entrepreneur mindset, not an employee mindset, be thinking of a realistic schedule that might work for you.
Loneliness: You make decisions about things you know nothing about, with no one to measure the wisdom of those decisions by and no one to celebrate or cry with. Your mission will demand every ounce of energy, every moment of time, every drop of blood, and every cent. It's like entering your own lotto draw. Your chances of winning are slim, so it's best to define what you mean by success before you start. For me, success is not measured by sales, but by knowing that I gave my mission everything I have to give.
105. No Holiday for You!
First off, I'm quite content being a solopreneur. I've had partners and it's certainly more difficult (my opinion) than going-it-alone. That said, I can't recall getting a real holiday in years. I can't take a full day off and I always have to be around to answer emails, calls, tweets, DMs, facebook notes, etc. There's really no such thing as a holiday for those who work alone (and want to keep the funds coming in to pay bills). Sometimes, I wish I COULD go on vacation without my computer.
106. You're in it Alone
The biggest challenge is that all things fall entirely upon the single owner.
Decisions can be discussed with others for their ideas and opinions. There is a big difference though, when they are not the ones putting themselves on the line. They have nothing to lose. With multiple owners, each are on the hook, so the decisions arrived at will be more of a hard look than casual ideas by others.
Being able to take some time off, as a single entrepreneur, can be a little more stressful, too.
107. Yes, I Said "Ass", but...
My biggest challenge is not having another human being within earshot to brainstorm or problem-solve with. I’ve run into this lately as I collect rejection emails from Google Adwords, etc. refusing to accept my advertising creative because it says “ass”. Although referring to a Democratic donkey, this is “inappropriate content”. I know there are ways around these challenges, but sometimes I get stuck and miss the fresh set of eyes or ears that could ask me: "Well, have you tried this?"
108. Chief Cook & Bottle Washer
A solopreneur must be the head of four departments - R&D - Marketing & Sales - Administration - Operations. Only Operations earns money. The others are liabilities, but are crucial to the business. One challenge is to be good at all phases of business and not ignore any. Another challenge is to make enough income with operations to pay for the other three departments. Learn something new every day, get excited about sales, count the beans and set prices to cover all costs.
109. Patting Yourself on the Back
We have so much we can do and there is always more to do. Whether we have a laid out plan with specific and measurable goals or are flying off the seat of our pants, it could always go better. But patting ourselves on the back is vital. Because if we don't do it, who will?! Acknowledging what's working well will help us address what needs to improve in a healthier way than beating ourselves up. Fear and doubt can stop any entrepreneur, but self-praise will help us move forward.
110. Get Your Priorities Straight!
Poor prioritization is the Number 1 cause of overwhelm among women solopreneurs. This means that we're not being selective about what we do in our businesses. Strategically, it means that we don’t select or give adequate attention to the projects that will best serve our businesses throughout the year. Tactically, it means that we don’t effectively choose what we do from day to day. If we get our priorities straight, we’ll be more productive, earn more, and have greater job satisfaction too!
111. A Granddaddy Spider with Hands
One of the biggest challenges outside of the obvious money monster is having to do everything to run the business. This includes aspects I do not understand or do not know how to do. As an example, I operate online to keep overhead down, but I knew nothing of building a website. I had to teach myself and I have built and rebuilt my own website which is still under construction. I have to be an accountant, banker, secretary, shipper, designer and everything else. I'm a granddaddy spider with hands.
112. Earn More, Do Less
The biggest challenge solopreneurs face is that they are SOLO. Being a 1-man/woman show means doing everything on your own, often times with a very limited budget. The best way to overcome this challenge is to invest in hiring help. It seems counterintuitive when you're dealing with financial constraints, but when you hire help to do the non-income generating activities (aka stuff that sucks the life out of you), you free yourself up to do the work that you love AND generates income.
113. Please! Take Me Seriously!
The greatest difficulty I have as a solopreneur is building credibility. As I immerse myself in virtual and physical communities, I often run into brick walls when others realize I work on my own, as if, somehow, that makes it more of a hobby or a casual pastime than a "real" business. I often rely on my own passion to convince them, but it is a slow, tedious, uphill climb to be taken seriously as a professional.
114. The King Solomon Factor
As an email and social media marketing solopreneur, the one biggest challenge I face every day is which knife to use. I have to split myself into dozens of pieces - the boss, the sales team, the bookkeeper, the client manager, etc. Should I use a butter knife when I have to face a dissatisfied client, the steak knife when addressing a meaty matter like SOPA, the cake knife to sweeten my day and raise my prices? And what about when I have to cut the cheese? It’s a daily dilemma.
115. Advertising!!! Marketing!!!
Get your company's name out there! Big companies use lots of money & personnel. Little companies w/small resources have to be more discriminating. Today is all about internet marketing. Yet, we found it expensive & w/NO ROI. After searching, we got a billboard for a 3 mo. contract @ $500/mo. The ROI has been amazing. Our telemarketer- incredible & inexpensive! Look at all options. Some marketing ideas work for some companies & not others, so get ideas from them, NOT limits! Don't over-spend! TEST!
116. Wearing ALL of the Hats
When starting a business from the ground up & you are "the talent" (i.e., the writer/blogger/author, coach, workshop facilitator, and visionary), it's a lot of work in the beginning trying to get to the point of being able to hire the staff needed 2 yrs ago. To do that, I also have to wear the hats of the marketing director, publicist, planner, analyst and more. Some days, it's overwhelming, but the goals are worth it and the world benefits. I thank all of those who have volunteered on my projects.
117. Know Yourself
The biggest challenge for a solopreneur is that one’s perception of external circumstances (economy, clients, competition)is often overlooked, as it is dependent on one’s own state of mind in the moment. Those who work with others have their co-workers to help keep their mind-sets in check, to reign them in when necessary. If you’re alone, it’s easy to miss that your state of mind or mood creates your perceptions of anything external. Those who notice this are resilient and will succeed.
118. Toot! Toot!
First: Be unique. The challenge is to be the drum tooting your own horn. Second: Be creative, make friends, and don't be afraid to go out there and toot the horns of others sometimes.
119. Secret Challenge
The most basic challenge deals more with the psyche of the solopreneur. America was founded with rugged individualism as an underlying theme, which has carried over to present day. That idea of wanting to accept total responsibility is admirable. It can, however, get in the way of the solopreneur dream and their revenue.
A good standard rule to follow is:
“If it is non-revenue producing, outsource it.”
120. Scratch & Sniff
Biggest Challenge: Reward
As a solopreneur, there are no awards banquets, no co-workers, subordinates or bosses to tell you "good job", offer feedback, or give you a pat on the back.
But, your dog loves everything you do. Your dog is your biggest fan!
When we run a business by ourselves, it's easy to hear that negative voice in our head. Instead, think like your dog who knows how special you are. I take a peaceful daily walk to clear my head, sniffing only positive ideas!
121. Balance Before it's too Late
Finding a balance is a big challenge for solopreneurs. We have to be "on" 24/7 and sometimes, we need a break, but we feel driven to keep going. When you are a solopreneur, if you work yourself until you're exhausted...there's no one else to pick up the pieces. So, it's really important to find the balance before it gets too far out of hand.
122. Energy Management
I'm a firm believer in the positive effects of managing your mental and physical energy. As a solopreneur, your energy will be dug into and in demand. Wearing many hats in the startup phase takes a lot of your time and you're going to need to manage, through yoga, meditation, rest and renewal, your productive and creative energy.
Do you know another challenge for solopreneurs that wasn’t included? If you do, please share it below. And as always, many thanks to everyone that contributed to this article!