Going solo: the challenges of solo-entrepreneurs

Starting a business all by yourself is both exciting and scary. You get to set your own hours, answer to no one but yourself. But entrepreneurship isn’t all sunshine and rainbows.

Building a business on your own can be isolating but also exhausting both physically and mentally.

There are obvious benefits from being a solo-entrepreneur but what are the pitfalls and challenges? Let’s explore some of the challenges of flying solo.

Multiple responsibilities

As a solo-entrepreneur, you will wear many hats: IT, procurement, legal, sales, marketing, accounting…only to name a few. It becomes critical to know when to wear each hat, as well as when to set aside them. It is natural to focus on the tasks which you enjoy. But remember to take a bigger picture view and focus on the ones which are most important for your business. A lot of solo-entrepreneurs spend too much time on what they perceive as urgent tasks rather than the important ones.

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Switching hats means taking time away from another task. Moving from one task to another can be challenging: creating a lack of concentration and focus. To help you with switching hats, you may benefit from actual physical transition. For example, holding client meetings in a different location. Prioritize and plan tasks ahead of getting started. This will help you manage the different hats more efficiently.

With time you might discover that not every hat fits you. For example, a creative might not enjoy accounting and spend significant time trying to complete tasks. Such tasks (hats) might hold you back. It might be beneficial to outsource some responsibilities to external suppliers, freelancers or virtual assistants.

As your business grow, you should identify opportunities to automatize tasks to increase your productivity.

Accountability & Feedback

You certainly have no boss but you are also lacking someone to review your work and keep you on track. Lacking a peer to give you a fresh perspective on your work, you should focus on getting feedback from customers and the marketplace. A diversity of viewpoints can be beneficial to your professional growth. You can benefit from a peer to bounce ideas off or an accountability partner.

Read the publication on Entrepreneurship & Prioritization

Working isolated can lead to ingrained thoughts and the “founder syndrome”: the feeling to have all the answers and the reluctance to take inputs from others — even experts.

It is important to keep your focus and avoid distraction. To utilize your time efficiently, make sure to track your time on a daily basis. Measuring both productive and non-productive time. Books like Indistractable or Deep Work can help you to focus your attention and be more productive.

Collaboration with peers can be a great way to expand your business while at the same time get the accountability and feedback you might need.

Work-life balance

Chances are you are working on something that you are passionate about. So motivation to work will not be lacking. With a big challenge ahead of you to grow the business you might go heads down and dedicate a lot of time and energy to your business. And with no one to slow you down (apart family and friends) you risk burnout. Take care of yourself — schedule time off, time to meditate or to work out.

“Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.” –Suzy Kassem

If you have read this far, you might face some of these challenges as a Solo-entrepreneur. A long-term Coach can bounce ideas with you and help you gain perspective.

Discover our Coaching offering and book a free in-take meeting.

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Rémi SAINT-JEAN

Impact Business Designer | Breakthrough innovation is born from unusual combinations | Ideas shared here are rooted in ‘Small Data’ and Customer Experience.