Solo-preneur is a term that I stumbled across that classifies those people in business for themselves and typically by themselves.
Let’s face it; some people are not cut out for solo-preneuring while others are very successful. Some are just best suited to stay in the workforce. I get it. We all want to take a shot at our own business…and believe it or not, there are plenty of opportunities to start one. However, before making the majestic leap of faith into the world of self-employment; consider some of the self-assessment points below and mentally take note of where you rate.
Much of our ability to function as a solo-preneur begins with habits we’ve adopted over time. Fortunately we can change habits. I know, change isn’t easy, I’m with you on that; but change might be necessary if you’re serious about working for yourself. The experts say it takes about 30 days to change a habit. For example, if you work at home; getting showered, dressed and ready to be in your office at 9:00am might be a habit forming change; especially when your office is next to your bedroom.
Many of the habits we’ve adopted while working in the corporate world will spill over to our own business. You may be thinking, that’s great because you were very disciplined when working for XXX Company. While that may be true, keep in mind that you were also held to a standard by your boss, peers and perhaps subordinates. Working on your own is a horse of a different color…you are now solely responsible and have nobody to answer too. Isn’t that one of the reasons you decided to get into your own business anyway? Yes, some may say you are accountable to your customer; well, in actuality you aren’t. If you are not providing your customer with their needs, they’ll go to the next provider that has been waiting for you to slip up. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there and the game is on.
Like Steven Covey’s 7-Habits of Highly Effective People, I provide 7-Habits of Highly Effective Solo-preneurs. Take a few minutes to peruse these points and see how you measure. Even if you rate high, think of others you know or have interacted with, where do they rate?
1. Am I a Flake?
I was scheduled to meet with someone at a local coffee place at 9:00am on a weekday. The person never showed and never called, my immediate thought was, is this guy’s business real or perhaps he is just a flake.
Unfortunately this isn’t uncommon…especially for solo-preneurs. The business world has no room for flakes, especially when you’re in business for yourself. Flakes don’t cut it in the corporate world; nor do they cut it when in business for themselves. Just because there is nobody standing over your shoulder micro-managing your day, don’t be a flake. Business etiquette is imperative for solo-preneurs which highly includes being on-time.
A good rule of thumb is to confirm the meeting the day before. Additionally, arrive a little early so you can greet your customer when they arrive.
2. Can I Dress Myself?
Being in business for myself and having a home office, I must admit that there are times that I get so wrapped up in an early morning project that the shower and dress doesn’t come until the afternoon. It’s not a good habit and I do discipline myself when I do this. Discipline is usually in the form of exercise.
Solo-preneurs should behave the same as they would expect someone who worked for them to behave. Remember in corporate when you were taught to lead from the top? As I mentioned above, experts say that a habit takes about 30 days to become ingrained. Get into the groove of good habits early in your business. If your work hours are 8:00am – 5:00pm with a one-hour lunch and two breaks, then get in the habit of following that schedule. Who knows, you may have an anxious client call you at 8:00am.
3. Am I a TV-a-Holic?
Television is one of life’s greatest decompressors. Ask almost any American home that has one. Nielsen says that Americans watch 34 hours of TV a week. That’s almost as much as the 40 hour work week. It stands to reason that the TV is probably the most utilized appliance…even when we are doing other things the TV is on.
The problem is that solo-preneurs can be easily tempted to decompress their day anytime since they have full access to the TV. You might have just got off the phone and lost an account, or had a conflict with a customer. Or worse, you just had an argument with your kid because you work from home. You may think to yourself, I deserve some downtime to decompress; but think, if you were at the job you left to be a solo-preneur, would you be able to go watch TV if a similar situation occurred? It’s easy to get caught up in a talk-show and kill a few hours that could have been better served reaching out to clients or going to a networking meeting.
Today many TVs have the option to record or better yet, since you’re in the habit of a regular work-day with a lunch and breaks, you also have the option to schedule when you’ll take these breaks…isn’t that why you started your own business?
Jerry Springer may be obnoxiously interesting, or Ellen may have a great guest, refrain and record it.
4. How is my Self-Control?
A Pound of Prevention is Worth an Ounce of Cure is a great quote and certainly one to live by; but not in the world of solo-preneuring. A pound of anything only goes to the waistline. A refrigerator and a pantry at your fingertips are sure to be your greatest threat. A nibble here and a nibble there adds up quickly on the scale and the waist.
Just a small handful of almonds is 50 calories and 4.5 grams of fat! The next time you exercise, track your calories burned. You may become disappointed when you feel like you ran a marathon, but only burned 250 calories; which can be easily consumed with one Almond Joy candy bar. Some great advice is to set yourself up on MyFitnessPal if you haven’t already done so. This little program, which also has an app can be your best friend. Before you dive into the pantry, do a quick look up of your calorie consumption on MyFitnessPal, it may help ward off the craving. Drink water, it’s that faucet thingy right next to the refrigerator.
5. Can I Tell Time?
This self-assessment item is not to offend anyone; but is all important still the same. Solo-preneuring means meetings that might take place at locations other than your home office. You might have got into your own business because you got tired of the corporate meetings and time-sticklers, well, guess what, they exist everywhere. People are typically cordial when you meet face to face, but don’t let that fool you. If you’re late, they remember this and it becomes a “red-flag” for future business interactions.
People are forgiving to a point. You might think they will forgive your tardiness because you have a reasonable excuse, the truth is, their time is more important than yours and they will still mentally hold this against you. Sorry, but it is human nature. We are a selfish species when it comes to our personal needs and our time. If you don’t believe me, just look at the speeding driver’s on the road. As a side note, this isn’t only in your business, this also goes for casual meetings and other functions. At the very least, call ahead if you’re running late.
6. Do I Like People?
Even if your business is about animals, such as Pet-Sitting or Dog-Grooming, or your business is accounting which for the most part is working with the organization of numbers and forms, you will still be dealing with people! In addition, pet owners are probably one of the most finicky…people love their pets.
In order to run and keep your business, you’ll have to deal with people…every day. You’ll have to follow up with them, contact them for payment, manage conflicts, objections and in some cases nastiness.
People are the crux of your business. If you prefer to not work with people, then you will probably need to consider partnering with someone who will be the “face” of your business.
7. Am I Sloppy?
When I refer to sloppy in this context, I mean disorganized. Unless you hire someone to manage all your daily lists and keeps your desk organized, you’ll need to work on revising this habit.
I remember when I was in the service, our commander was always slow on moving paper that required his signature. We couldn’t quite understand because his desk was always clean and tidy, I mean spotless. You would think, now this is an organized person. Well, we found the “black-hole”, it was behind his desk! There were piles of folders and papers. The thought that the form we needed was buried somewhere in those piles. Stay focused on a project or two at a time. Emergencies happen, but as a rule of thumb, paper should be handled once.
Of course these points are not complete; however, I believe this to be a good start if you’re considering solo-preneurship. This information was culminated from my own personal experience and observation of others who have been successful as a solo-preneur.
Being in business for yourself is fun, rewarding and has a lot of benefits. Even if after reviewing the noted measuring points above and you feel defeated, they are all habits that can be improved. Every day we are improving ourselves and taking the strides to be successful business owners. Start with the small stuff and build from there—as a solo-preneur you’ll have enough on your plate. As Steven Covey shares in his 7-Habits of Highly Successful People…Put First Things, First. You’ll know what your first things are in good time. Prioritize based on what matters most—no matter how daunting the task.
Submitted by Michael S. Levy, President of Verify Network, LLC. Verify Network is a Background Screening and Drug Testing company located in Tampa, FL. We are a national full-service background screening company and offer a wide-range of drug testing products and information awareness brochures for businesses and communities.