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10 Ways to Successfully Hack Being a Solopreneur

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes. Contains 1409 words

Do you know how to be a successful solopreneur?

Starting your own company and working for yourself can be thrilling. Making the logo (always the first thing we do, right?!?), brainstorming your product, polling potential customers… figuring out what your business is and who it’s for can be super exciting. As a solopreneur, you’re in charge. You get to choose. No one tells you what to do, coz the buck stops with you.

But as times goes on, you get over the super-fun “New Business Honeymoon” period, and you realize that the buck starts AND ENDS with you. Everything that needs to be done? You. All the time. If it needs to happen, needs to be figured out, needs to be done, it’s you…. ALLLL you. (gulp)

Why does it have to be this way?

Maybe it doesn’t. Maybe there’s a better way. Maybe there are, oh, I don’t know… TEN better ways! :P

How to be a successful solopreneur
Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

How to be a successful solopreneur

(Or, Ten Things to Help Solopreneurs Get $#*! Done)

  1. Free Resources
  2. Trade Out
  3. Leverage the Work of Others
  4. Virtual Assistants
  5. Accelerators and Incubators
  6. Freelancers
  7. Small Business Development Centers
  8. Networking
  9. Always Keep Learning!
  10. Kick Things to the Curb

Use free resources for solopreneurs

There are SO many amazing resources out there to help you run your small business. With online services, like the free writing apps Grammarly and Hemingway, or a stockpile of spectacular images at Unsplash and templated design layouts at Canva, there are waaayyyy to many to list within this list. (But it does give me an idea for my next post… :).

There are also small business-specific services and products like these templates at SCORE and government programs like the Funding Programs and the Learning Center of the SBA. There are tons of amazing free resources shared both online and in real life with these programs (more on them in #6 below).

Trade with other solopreneuers and businesses

When starting out as a new business owner, money can be scarce. But luckily, paying with cash isn’t the only way to get things. Sometimes you can find people/businesses that have products or services you need – and they need yours. Then you can barter and basically “buy” what you need, just using your time or product as a currency.

Take a look around your neighborhood — or coworking space! – and see if there are others who might be willing to make a mutually beneficial trade of goods or services. Just make sure to detail what’s expected for/by both sides before embarking on any Trade Out. Both parties need to be happy with the outcome, both short term and long term.

(A quick side note: I’m not an accountant or a tax pro — but as a freelancer I discovered that when I participate in a trade, I’m still required to include its value on my taxes. Just something to keep in mind…)

Leverage the work of others

Licensing and using the work of other people who have created plugins, software and services means you’re never really alone. You just can’t SEE your coworkers. By subscribing to these services, you’re leveraging their hours of work to expand your “Team of One” to a virtual “Team of One + Hundreds.”

Things like Honeybook, WordPress, and, ah-hem, Bloggin’ Ninja, can help you do things faster and more easily than you could do alone. This way you don’t have to learn how to become a marketing pro or booking agent or design your own graphics or websites from scratch. You can simply use the expertise of others who specialize in those things, so you can get back to YOUR business.

Outsource to virtual assistants

Speaking of using others to do your work… Why do small tasks when you can outsource ’em? Hiring a VA can help free up your time to take care of things only you can do.

My two-part series on Virtual Assistants pretty much covers everything on this subject; from why you need one, what they do and to how to hire one. So check it out here for more details. (This can be a HUGE time saver for solopreneurs!!)

Find accelerators and incubators (like EforAll)

You may be a SOLOprenuer, but you don’t actually have to do everything alone. Accelerators and Incubators are organizations, usually non-profits, that provide new businesses with opportunity, resources, and support. There are all kinds of helpful groups out there, full of other people who are also starting or running their own small businesses.

A quick Google search shows 31k+ results in MA alone!! Here in New Bedford, we’re lucky enough to have a wonderful small biz accelerator, Entrepreneurship for All. For more info on EforAll, check out last week’s article on it here: Summer 2019 Cohort or another one here: Teams that Thrive: EforAll or learn about the EforAll organization on their site.

Hire other successful freelancers

Accountants, bookkeepers, marketing pros, web developers, productivity coaches, SEO experts… Hiring other people to do tasks on an as-needed basis can not only free up your time, but it can actually make your business better. When you hire someone who specializes in something outside your realm of expertise, chances are work will get done faster and better than you could have done.

Don’t get me wrong; sure, you can do some parts of what they might do. Like, it’s fairly easy to put daily expenses into Quickbooks or pay a bill, but developing a state-by-state quarterly tax payment plan is a whole different beast. And creating an original, branded website optimized for speed and SEO is WAY harder than simply making a blog post on your site.

Think of outsourcing to freelancers as expanding your team, but without the pressure of having to keep them busy (and paying them!) full time. Coworking spaces are a GREAT resource for finding freelancers. Here at Groundwork, we’re lucky to have many freelancers as members. Like Trey, who does front-end web development, and Lisa, a Business Advisor for entrepreneurs, and Margo, a Productivity Consultant. There are lots of people right here at Groundwork who can help you make your business better! :D

Use small business development centers

The MSBDC (Massachusetts Small Business Development Center), the SBA and SCORE are just a few places to start looking for small biz resources. They’ll often host informative events like free legal clinics, seminars and conferences, virtual seminars and some even have free business counselors with whom you can meet.

Several groups (like SCORE and EforAll) can also pair you with a mentor. It’s great to connect with other business owners who have similar businesses; you can get a different perspective, learn from their mistakes and generally have someone in your corner. It’s nice to not be alone! :D

You can read about more amazing local resources in our blog post here: New Bedford Resources for Your Small Business.

Get out there and network

Early in my freelancing career, I learned there’s really only one hard-n-fast rule to getting gigs: Be nice and professional to everyone you meet; you never know who you’re talking to.

Now as a small business owner, I’m realizing it’s not just good for the freelance world. You never know where your next client or customer might come from. As a member of Groundwork, I’m lucky to be surrounded by a vibrant community of all kinds of people, doing all kinds of work.

Not only is it super enjoyable to chat with fellow Groundworkers, but there are also other networking opportunities, like the Business Buzz right here in New Bedford. I’ve only been a couple of times, but it was a nice relaxed environment to meet other business professionals (with drinks! :)

Always keep learning!

The more we know, the more our businesses can thrive, right? Continuing to learn about things like our industries, our competition, our communities (both physical and online), as well as keeping abreast of small business concerns (by using things like the SBA Learning Center) is imperative for continued success. We need to become Solopreneur SHARKS — keep moving forward or die.

Kick things to the curb

Unimportant things, that is.

In a perfect world, everything in our business would be perfect, right? But as Solopreneurs who have to do it all, we don’t have TIME for perfect. No matter how much we might WANT everything to be done well/right/perfect, guess what. “Perfect” isn’t real and definitely not possible here. When you’re doing everything, you can put yourself out of business striving for perfection.

So when you find yourself spending what you feel is “too much” time on something, take a beat and listen to your gut. Then do whatever’s necessary to get it as “close to possible without going over time” — and know you’re doing it for the betterment of your business. Then kick the rest to the curb.

And on that note…

Take another look at the list of these “Ten Hacks to Help Solopreneurs” — and apply #10: Keep the important stuff. Forget the rest.

Now that you know how to be a successful solopreneur, go forth and conquer your corner of the universe! :D

Noi Sabal