Sure, working for yourself has some major benefits. However, starting, owning, and running a business comes with a lot of challenges—probably more than most people could anticipate. Running a business by yourself only intensifies these challenges.
Solopreneurs everywhere are wearing all the hats in their companies—from product development to public relations, marketing, customer service, sales, social media, event planning, and, and, and. In fact, 62% of all small businesses don’t have any staff at all (FreshBooks), which means solopreneurs must face all the emotional and physical tolls of business ownership without the support of a team.
Here are some of the biggest challenges most solopreneurs face and how they manage to overcome them:
- It’s lonely at the top.
- Everything is overwhelming.
- Everything is your fault and you need to make all the decisions.
- Overthinking leads to overdoing and underperforming.
- Imposter syndrome rules your thinking.
1. It’s lonely at the top. Being a solopreneur means you don’t have a team, obviously; but lacking a team is more than just task delegation. A team can support you emotionally, provide valuable insights, objective feedback, and collaboration, and can shoulder work burdens when you’ve had enough. A solopreneur has to find this balance and ability within themselves. Moreover, a solopreneur might find that the emotional support they were expecting to receive from their family and friends just isn’t there once the business becomes more of a day-to-day reality, rather than a distant dream of the future.
For many solopreneurs, this missing human (and brainstorming) connection can be achieved by joining business networking events or groups, or by working with mentors and coaches. By having someone (paid or otherwise) that you can call on, or better yet, schedule with weekly, you can prevent the intense feelings of disappointment, disconnect, and loneliness.
2. Everything is overwhelming. Finances, sales, marketing, product development, logistics, operations—a solopreneur has to juggle them all … and then some! It’s no wonder anxiety and overwhelm are common themes in the everyday life of a business owner.
The easiest way to overcome these feelings is to get a handle on your schedule and tasks. Your schedule will become more and more important as you build the business and add responsibilities. Knowing what you need to accomplish each day, before the day begins, will help you prioritize tasks, manage your day, and ultimately deal better with the unexpected situations that inevitably arise with business ownership. Take time to really look at your schedule and plan your days around time-blocking, batching, and your most pressing tasks. For more on how to get the most out of your day, check out my blog on productivity.
3. Everything is your fault and you need to make all the decisions. Yes, this is one hundred percent true and one hundred percent terrifying. Why? Because so much of what you do as a solopreneur is uncertainty, trial and error, and blind faith in your dreams. No one else is going to do the work. No one else is going to pay the bills. No one else is in charge of whether or not your business succeeds greatly or fails tragically—and that’s a lot to have weighing over you every single day. Combine all these emotions with loneliness and you have a terrible recipe for business disaster.
Just start by admitting all of this. It’s okay to feel this way—just don’t wallow in those feelings. Seek help if you need it. Even the best business owners in the world needed help and advice.
4. Overthinking leads to overdoing and underperforming. It’s remarkably easy to overthink your problems when it’s just you facing them. Every single decision you make (calculated or not) has risks associated with it and constantly second-guessing your decisions will only delay the work needed to be done, force you to focus on things that don’t matter, and eventually kill any joy you ever had in starting a business. Yuck!
The first thing you need to do is get out of your own way! Stop questioning your every move and just start doing the work, without excuses, stalling tactics, or long, drawn-out explanations of what might or might not work and why. If you can, make a list of all the things that waste your time, energy, and talents and identify ways to eliminate these from your day and vocabulary.
5. Imposter syndrome rules your thinking. It doesn’t matter if this is your first or tenth business, imposter syndrome can pop up anywhere and for anyone. Imposter syndrome is the deep, internal feelings of self-doubt, inadequacy, and incompetence that can creep up in all sorts of situations. Many of these feelings are associated with social contexts, as well as perfectionist tendencies.
So, try to let go of that. You don’t need to be perfect and you don’t owe society (or anyone for that matter) anything. If you still need help, find a mentor, fellow business owner, or incredible friend and use them as a sounding board when your thoughts leave you less than confident in yourself and your abilities.
Yes, being a solopreneur is hard, but it’s also incredibly worth it. There are so many positives that far outweigh the negatives of business ownership—if you can just get beyond the initial (and sometimes continuing) challenges, then you will find fulfillment beyond your wildest imaginings. Keep at it! It’s worth it!
If you are looking for some help, I have two suggestions:
- Read my book The Pursuit of Badasserie: How to Create Badass Business Abundance
- Schedule a call with me!
What challenges are you facing in your business? Let me know in the comments!