If you struggle to maintain momentum in your business, to stay focused and on track, tend to procrastinate or get distracted or just feel too alone with it sometimes, my blog discusses five of the loneliest aspects of running your own business and what you can do to counteract them.
There’s no doubt about it, being a ‘sole’ trader means doing a lot of stuff alone. You take on all the responsibility, usually do all the tasks (or at least manage them), have to make all the decisions and ultimately end up spending a lot of time on your own.
This doesn’t mean all sole-traders are loners, far from it. Especially women like you and me, who serve others and have clients – we like being with people! But of course, you don’t get to spend all your time with your clients because there are a lot of other tasks which you have to do like marketing (writing, creating, designing), social media, admin, accounts, managing your website – most of which you do all on your own.
It can be a lonely business being alone in your business.
So, here are 5 of the loneliest things about running your own business and what you can do to counteract them:
When you work alone you only have one brain to use at any one time (obviously!). Yet we all know that more brains (and hearts) together are more creative, hence the term ‘brainstorm’, so when you’re working on something all alone there’s no one else to bounce ideas off or get advice from.
You also get too close to your business to really see things clearly, whereas someone external can ask the right questions and bring clarity really quickly with new ideas or a fresh perspective.
One comment from my Facebook group entry form, when I ask what are you struggling with around marketing, that really stood out for me was this “I hate not knowing and I want a coach to take away the not knowing”.
How many times have you wasted precious hours and got so frustrated you wanted to throw your laptop out of the window (or is that just me?) trying to figure something out and wishing someone would just tell you how to do it?
The solution: get help from a good business coach or from peers via a business support group/mastermind, people who have been there and done that and already found the solutions and shortcuts.
You can take away the not knowing, get expert advice and mentoring and peer group support for you and your business.
It can be hard to stay positive, motivated and resilient on your own. It’s particularly tough to bounce back from disappointments, difficulties and knocks to your confidence (like someone being mean to you on social media or saying no to your services).
When left alone, we tend to internalise our experience and take on more blame than we should, believing it to be us that’s the problem, or that we did something wrong. Having others’ thoughts and feelings (that aren’t as triggered) is really helpful in navigating the tough situations.
It’s an old paradigm belief that we have to do it all alone, that all by ourselves we have to be strong, resilient and learn to cope. The new way is to gain strength by NOT doing it all alone, but by leaning on others, asking for help and feeling supported. That’s what builds your confidence and resilience, not coping on your own.
The solution: find your tribe, be with genuinely supportive peers, have a safe space where you can share your troubles, worries and anxieties and not be judged but be heard, empathised with supported instead.
#3 Doing it all DIY:
One of the hardest things about having your own business is having to do EVERYTHING even when it’s not in your skillset. It’s always an enormous learning curve for the first few years with so much to figure out like websites, designing flyers, business cards or posters, writing copy, creating engaging social media content, creating graphics, email marketing, making videos, filling out your self-assessment, writing terms and conditions, putting systems in place to save time, etc etc and usually all on a tight budget!
Of course, you have to start somewhere and I’m always encouraging people to just get out there and share but if graphics and design particularly are not your thing, what you’ll be putting out may not look so good. Often DIY websites, logos and graphics really show.
Plus when you don’t have an eye for design too, you often can’t see that what you’ve produced isn’t very good. It ends up being a bit of a vicious circle. It doesn’t just happen with design too. Being open to feedback so you can improve how you’re doing something is another skill to develop.
The solution: there are lots of ways you can get help. You can outsource the bits you find hard or don’t like to a professional, but often when money is tight at the start you can only outsource so much. I’d recommend starting with web design and a professional headshot as these are what people see the most of your business (and bookkeeping/accounts if you really struggle with the numbers).
Then you can learn to do the rest yourself making sure you’re developing and improving your skills, practising in a safe space and getting constructive and expert feedback. Most people can learn to write decent copy, create engaging social media content and design simple graphics.
#4 Consistency and accountability:
I don’t know anyone who doesn’t struggle at times with staying consistent, being disciplined and productive and keeping on track – even me (haha)!
We all have off days, down days, distracted days or stressed days.
Days where you can’t be bothered, days you just feel resistance and days where you have no ideas or everything you think of sounds crap.
Then there are the days when the mind gremlins are really loud and tell you “you can’t say that, it’s boring” or “no one’s going to come to your workshop” or “that’s too expensive, no one will buy it”.
The creative process (which is what you’re doing as a business owner, over and over) is messy and it is up and down. It pushes your buttons, touches your weak spots and can trigger you into indecision and paralysis. When dealt with well (and with support), these triggers can be your biggest learnings and breakthroughs and by not ignoring them, you can grow you and your business more quickly.
The solution: having support from a business coach, biz buddy or peer group. Having someone that supports you in being accountable to your goals and gently guides you back to your path when you wander off (following some new shiny object or doing the washing).
#5 Lack of connection and community:
Women particularly put relationships pretty high on our priority list in life. We care about being a part of a tribe and we want to belong. We thrive when we are in connection and struggle when we feel alone.
In truth, we all need connection and support, including men, and introverts too. This was one of hardest things for me about going from working in an office to working from home and it’s something my partner (for example) wouldn’t do well with (he’d hate it) – he needs the interaction with others.
I have found a lot of connection and community through networking, belonging to a few select groups and making friends with other businesswomen on a similar journey to me. I have to get out of the house and be with other people and not just my clients, but my peers. It’s important to share that journey and to know I have somewhere I can share my doubts, disappointments, shocks and questions.
The solution: have a group of peers with whom you can learn from and share with, laugh with, commiserate with and celebrate with!
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