My Path to Solopreneurship

alone autumn mood forest cold countryside

Photo by Gabriela Palai on Pexels.com

My path to solopreneurship was driven by a combination of necessity and a desire for self-fulfillment. I’d had a successful career in tech marketing strategy, working at companies like Intel and Gartner Group. But I was becoming tired of the cubicle 9-5 being constantly surrounded by people (I’m a natural introvert), and as the mother of a young son I wanted to spend more time at home with him. But could I afford to do so?

The realization came when I sat down one day to see how much money I was really spending on working for someone else:  commute costs into the city every day, coffee and lunch, professional clothing, school before/after care costs, babysitting costs, and all the extra expenses we tend to incur for the sake of convenience when there isn’t enough time to do it all:  takeout food, housecleaning services, dog walkers, salon services, etc.  Despite a six-figure salary, the percentage going to all these extra expenses was still astounding. Clearly, I couldn’t afford NOT to work from home.

That was five years ago.

I’d love to say it was easy, and I quickly reached the same income as my 9-5. In truth, it was a lot harder than I’d expected, but more satisfying than I’d anticipated as well. I think the biggest challenge was knowing where to focus my time and energy for the maximum results, and not getting distracted by the next new shiny thing. When you’re working for yourself, new ideas and opportunities come up all the time, and it’s tempting to go after them. But each new project takes more time to mature than you realize. Focus is the friend of the first-time solopreneur!

In my next posts, I’ll go into more detail on ways to develop focus and scale as a solopreneur, what worked for me, and what is still work in progress, so stay tuned!

 

 

 

Why Should a Solopreneur be Frugal?

What does it mean for a solopreneur to be frugal?  Why is that a good thing?

rebelsaurus-katie-harp-1080607-unsplash

Being frugal is about much more than just being careful how you spend your money. In fact, for me that’s not even the most important aspect of living a frugal life.  Instead, it’s about how I spend my energy — and that might include not buying things that just accumulate as “stuff” that I have to manage, clean, store, or otherwise worry about.

Being frugal means spending all your resources — time, money, energy, space — wisely, so they bring the most value to your life and to your business. Personally, frugality is about reducing the stress in my life so I can focus on the things that are important and enjoy the moments that life brings. As a business owner, frugality allows me to be more independent and more in control of my own destiny, and that is something that I value.

Don’t equate being frugal with being cheap. It makes sense to spend money on quality if you are going to use the purchase for a long time. Or to invest time and energy in something that you love, or that you know will pay off for you or for a loved one in the future.

3 Frugal Tips for the Solopreneur

1. Where possible, bootstrap

If you can bootstrap your business, that is always better than taking investors’ money when you don’t have to. I talk to too many startup founders who see the most important first milestone as getting funded.  Yes, there are some businesses (those that have large network effects, or giant competitors breathing down their necks) that have to grow as fast as possible – which usually means external funding. But the vast majority of ventures do not fall into that category. Why did you leave the corporate rat race just to essentially work for another boss? If you value autonomy, then bootstrapping is the way to go.

2. Focus on a single end goal with a single target segment

Your most important resource as a solopreneur is your time.  Always be frugal with your time and energy!

You can be most effective when you have a crystal clear end goal in mind, with a detailed picture of your target prospect.  Always be serving their needs.

3. Plan, execute, evaluate – always!

You can’t be frugal without a plan. You may not need a 50-page business plan, but if you don’t have a target and strategy in mind, then you have no way of measuring the value of your resource investment decisions.

Having said that, always remember that plans are not cast in stone. Have a plan… execute against that plan… evaluate what worked and what didn’t… then re-plan!