Ready to make a go of your independent venture, to say sayonara to working for someone else and turn that dream or side gig into a real, working business? The solopreneur life might be your ticket to happiness and financial success — but before you say “sign me up,” take the time to really think about what it will be like to work alone.
It’s easy to get so excited about quitting your day job and starting your business that you forget to think about the fact that soon, you’ll be going at it solo. When you are a solopreneur, you work alone in two major ways:
1. Business management: You are responsible for everything in your business. Even if you outsource a task, you are still the one in charge of managing the contractor and process.
2. Work environment: You are typically physically alone while you work. When you are the sole, full-time employee of a business, you will do a majority of the work by yourself.
So, as you get ready to take the leap into solopreneurship, don’t get so caught up in the idea of running your own business that you fail to consider what it means to work alone. Use these questions to determine if you have what it takes to go solo.
Do you have the right personality?
Some people aren’t built for working on their own. They need others around them to provide support and camaraderie. Make sure you have the personality characteristics of someone who can handle working alone.
How do you feel when you spend time alone? You might not want to commit to solo work if spending time alone leaves you feeling down, out and unenergized.
Do you prefer to work in teams? If you highly value teamwork and enjoy working with groups, solopreneurship might not be in your best interests.
Are you self-disciplined? If you need someone to always hold you accountable, working alone might stunt your ability to get things done.
Are you self-motivated? When you start a freelance business, you need a positive mindset and internal drive to keep you going. If you lack the ability to motivate and encourage yourself, you might want to stick with a teamwork environment.
Do you know how to set boundaries?
The ability to keep yourself going when things get tough is an essential characteristic of a successful solopreneur — but it can also be a downfall.
To be a successful business owner, you need to be motivated to keep going until the work is done. But, you also need to know how to set healthy boundaries, so your work doesn’t take over your life and leave you without the mental and physical strength required to operate your business.
Do you like dealing with people?
Becoming a solopreneur and working alone might sound like the fastest way to get away from people. But, that’s not usually the case. As a solopreneur, you will likely need to be the face of your business and deal directly with your clients and vendors. So, consider the following:
Do you like to hide in groups? To work alone, you must be able to put yourself out there and promote yourself and your business.
Do you like working with clients? When you are on your own, you manage the work and the client interactions.
Can you stand up for yourself? No one will be there to negotiate for you. You need to be able to make deals with clients and vendors on your own.
Are you organized enough?
When you work alone, you are responsible for keeping your business in order. You need organizational skills to get your work done, keep up with clients, manage money and billing, and stay up to date with taxes and legalities.
If you have a hard time remembering appointments and important dates and struggle with keeping track of your work, documents and time — you might want to reconsider solopreneurship.
Do you like to learn?
When you manage an entire business, you no longer get to be hyper-focused on a certain element of business. You need to have at least a broad understanding of everything from operations and production to accounting and taxes.
Solopreneurs must embrace learning new skills.
So, don’t start a freelance business unless you enjoy learning about all of the elements of business, not just what you are good at or interested in.
Are you prepared to work alone?
Make sure you have the qualifications and resources to work alone.
Consider your experience. Are your skills sharp enough to support a business on your own? Or, do you have a lot more to learn? Should you gather more experience before you branch out on your own? You will never feel fully ready to take the lead to go solo, so don’t let that hold you back. But, make sure you realistically have the skills to support your new endeavor.
Know the financial responsibilities. Don’t jump blindly into a business without assessing your personal finances and creating a financial forecast. Be sure that you are planning to make enough money and have enough savings to support yourself.
Do you know enough people?
Ironically, working alone actually relies heavily on knowing a lot of people. To support a solopreneur business, you need a valuable network that will provide you with:
Business support: You aren’t an expert in everything, so don’t try to be. Tap into your network to find experts that can help you with elements of your business that are out of your wheelhouse (like accounting, marketing, taxes, legal, etc.).
You can’t be an expert in everything.
Client referrals: Having an extensive network will help you find new clients and form new partnerships.
Camaraderie: Even if you enjoy spending time alone, there will come a time when you need some connection with the outside world. Building a network of other solopreneurs who know what you are going through will help keep you motivated and sane.
Now that you asked yourself the tough questions — do you have what it takes to become a solopreneur?
If you said yes, go for it and do these 11 things before your start your freelance business.