I have written a lot of good things about being a solopreneur. And even though I have shared in some of my blog posts some of the challenges that I’m facing on a day-to-day basis as a solopreneur, I think that it would be best if I’m going to itemized them one by one so you could prepare yourself well in case you’re planning to become a solopreneur too. Here are the biggest challenges of solopreneurship and some ideas on how to deal with them.
You’re a One-Man/ One-Woman Team
This is one of the main challenges in being a solopreneur. You’re just a one-man/ one-woman team for a long period of time. And help might not be available until such time that you could afford to pay for staff or to outsource some of your tasks. This also means that all your business operations are handled and managed by you.
In my case as an online seller, I do all of the things I listed below and more.
- Sourcing my inventory (Buying from thrift shops and other online/offline sellers)
- Cleaning my inventory
- Posting them online (Take pictures and measure them one by one)
- Answer all customer queries
- Ship the items
- Handle the payments
- Solve customer issues like refunds and returns
- Maintenance and storage of inventory
Sometimes I don’t know how I survive a week. I guess I’ve just gotten used to it.
One thing I know for sure though, I do enjoy some of the processes specifically, sourcing my inventory thus I really don’t feel it as ‘work’.
Blogging also helps me diversify what I do in a week and it helps me relieve some of the stresses I get from my main hustle.
How to Deal with Being a One-Man/ One-Woman Team
There are multiple ways to deal with this issue and I was actually planning to hire a staff last year, unfortunately, the pandemic hit us and of course, all of my plans have changed. Here are some things that you can do to deal with this challenge.
Hire a Staff
As I have mentioned earlier, I was planning to hire a staff that could help me with the business, unfortunately, the pandemic came and I changed the plan (plus the business literally stopped earning from April – May 2020).
However, in normal circumstances, it would have been easier to hire a staff.
My plan before was to hire part-time staff to manage some of the physically demanding processes such as the washing of clothes, cleaning of leather goods, and steaming the garments.
Hiring a part-time staff (in the meantime) will help me minimize the things that I do without costing me too much.
This will definitely free up my time so I could focus on increasing my monthly sales and growing the business.
Outsource Some of the Tasks
If my business is not online selling, let’s say blogging, then outsourcing of tasks would have been easier.
However, since I deal with physical products, outsourcing some of my tasks are really challenging. The only tasks I could outsource are laundry and steaming and based on my computation, it would cost me more to outsource than to hire part-time help.
If your business is digital in nature such as blogging, creating and selling digital products, etc, then there are so many options nowadays that could help you outsource some of the tasks.
Review and Streamline Your Workflow Processes
Another thing that could help you alleviate the pressure in being a one-man team is to review your current workflow and make necessary changes. Perhaps, you could utilize the existing technology to speed up your business process.
By doing this, it could help you save time, money, and even save yourself from exhaustion and stress.
It Can Be Physically and Mentally Draining
In my case since I deal with physical products, I do a lot of physical work such as lifting storage boxes, etc. It is very tiring and exhausting, that’s why I’m slowly investing in cabinets with drawers to minimize my physical effort at work.
Photo by Anne Nygård on Unsplash
It’s also mentally draining because unlike being employed, you are the entire company. As a solopreneur you are the:
- Cleaning Staff
- Entry-level staff
- Purchasing Department
- Finance Department
- Tax and Legal Team
- HR Department
- Marketing and Sales Department
- Customer Service Department
Even though your business works on a much, much smaller scale, technically, you still do most of the tasks that are often distributed to multiple teams/people.
So before you jump into becoming a solopreneur, think about this very carefully. I’m not discouraging you in any way, heck, you know that I am a solopreneur myself. I just want you to grasp the reality that entrepreneurship is not a walk in the park.
It’s not as glamorous as what the magazine and the internet show us.
It entails A LOT of HARD WORK especially if you’re just starting out.
How to Avoid Getting Burnt Out Easily
I’ve experienced getting burnt out multiple times. However, I still find myself going back to doing what I do because I’d rather do this than whatever I used to do in the past.
Over the years I’ve learned to avoid getting so much drained by:
Taking One Step at a Time
I used to process 50 -100 clothes a week. So that means, I buy, inspect, wash, iron/steam, take pictures, and post all of these items online to multiple websites on a weekly basis. It took the life out of me hahaha and I will not do it again not just because it’s draining but also because I realize that it’s not strategic as well.
I would only probably revert back to this level once I have a staff that could help me with all of these tasks.
Regardless of what your business is, take one step at a time.
This will ensure that you will not get burnt out easily and that you will not lose steam.
Entrepreneurship is not always a race. Most often than not, it’s a marathon.
Give Yourself a Break
In the past couple of years, most especially when I was just starting my online selling business, I often work 7 days a week. I realized that it’s not sustainable.
So now, I only work on weekdays but I still do answer customer queries online that I receive on weekends. But I don’t process any garments on weekends anymore.
Invest in Equipment/Technology
There are certain equipment/technologies that can help make our lives easier. This will help you become more efficient and more effective in your business.
In my case, I have a list of things that I want to buy/pay that could make running the business easier.
Regardless of the nature of your business, identify these equipment/technologies and invest in them as early as possible.
Entrepreneurship Can Be a Lonely Journey
I don’t have an entrepreneur friend nor family member. I don’t know any entrepreneurs in my immediate circle. The only entrepreneurs that I know are friends of a friend or those that I only see online.
Sometimes, you want to talk to someone to share your struggles, and you can feel that there’s a certain disconnect. Probably because they’re not really getting what you’re talking about. And it’s not their fault. If they’re going to talk to me about how to raise kids then I won’t have anything of value to contribute too because I have not experienced that yet.
Photo by Ethan Sykes on Unsplash
So what I used to do was to bottle it all up and go on with my day. It’s tough and it’s lonely sometimes.
How to Overcome Loneliness in Entrepreneurship
Luckily, when I found the Personal Finance community, I also found bloggers who are freelancers, solopreneurs, or those transitioning to becoming an entrepreneur. In one way or another, I get to interact with people who share a similar journey.
Networking offline might not be possible yet in certain places due to the pandemic. However, networking online is definitely possible. You can start by searching them on Google or on Twiter and other social media.
Join Facebook groups or online communities in your countries about entrepreneurship or about your specific niche. If you’re an arts and crafts entrepreneur then you can also search for your own community.
Find your tribe so you can be part of an amazing support group and so you can help each other succeed and thrive in your chose business.
Indulge in Your Other Hobbies
It would also help if you take your mind off of your business even for just a few hours by indulging yourself in your other hobbies in life.
Play sport, travel (once it’s allowed), and enjoy your life.
This will definitely alleviate the stress off of your shoulder.
Go Out and Meet Your Friends and Family
If it’s allowed in your area, go out and meet your friends and family and have dinner. Talk about something else aside from your business. Listen to what they have to say. Leave all of your thoughts and worries about your business at home and just have quality time with your loved ones.
High-Risk and High Reward
Entrepreneurship is probably one of the ventures that have the highest-risk and highest possible reward. I have experienced exceeding my monthly salary as an employed individual and I also have experienced some months when I earned nothing (at the onset of the pandemic).
Photo by Riho Kroll on Unsplash
The risks can be mitigated though if you do your own diligence.
How to Lower the Risk and Increase the Reward
Some of the ways that you can do to lower the risks and increase the reward are:
Plan Ahead and Prepare
Before you jump into entrepreneurship, ask yourself, how soon can you make your business profitable? Do you have ample savings that could help you stay afloat during the first few months of running your own business?
If you plan ahead and prepare yourself financially, then you can definitely lower the risks. I know that it’s easier said than done but it’s one of the very important things to keep in mind before you consider becoming an entrepreneur.
Build Your Business Before You Resign
Prior to setting up my online selling business, I have been doing it already as a hobby. Actually, I have been doing it as a hobby way longer than as a business.
I like buying and wearing new clothes and I like to experiment with a variety of styles when I was younger which led to an accumulation of a room full of clothes, shoes, bags, and more.
Decluttering was actually the reason why I started selling online. Since I was shopping mindlessly for years, I woke up one day and realized that I have an apartment full of clothes that could rival a small thrift shop. It has just gotten out of hand.
I’ve decided to dispose of most of them by giving them away and by selling them. And, it made me realized that I could actually earn REAL MONEY in doing this. Thus, I went ahead and started my business.
So, before I even started my business, I already know the brands that sell, I’m already familiar with authenticity, market price, target market, how to sell online, profit margin, etc. The only thing left for me to do is to scale it up.
Watch Closely Your Overhead Costs
Sometimes, even if your getting tons of orders, your net income will still be quite low depending on your overhead costs. Watch out for this as this is one of the things that can make or break or business.
Luckily, I’m glad that we live in the internet era wherein a lot of business tools are available at a very low cost and sometimes, for free.
All of the online selling platforms that I’m using are free. All of the marketing tools that I’m using are free. Take advantage of the available technology to keep your overhead costs low.
If your overhead costs are low, then you can definitely have a bigger net income that you can use to pay yourself and to grow your business.
Pay Yourself First
Consider paying yourself first at the end of every month. This will ensure that you will have some money for the rainy days or for the slow months.
Personally, this is my mistake in the past few years. I was so obsessed with growing my business that I reinvested ALL of the profit back to it. So when the pandemic hit, I was left with a room full of inventory and an empty pocket.
If you are located in the Philippines, you can put your savings in digital banks such as CIMB, Diskartech, or Komo so that they could earn high interest compared to traditional banks or you can invest your money in other financial vehicles that could generate additional money for you.
Build Additional Income Streams
Relying on one source of income is not the best idea especially nowadays when it’s so much easy to create sources of additional (residual or passive) income.
I’ve realized this further when the pandemic hit. I was in the process of building additional online stores that will cater to a different market when the pandemic hits. All of them got affected because basically, even if I have multiple online stores targetting various market segments, their business model is the same. Thus, they’re susceptible to the same variables.
Now, I’m in the process of building complementary sources of income that is a totally different business model than my online selling business and I’m using this blog as a platform to learn how.
Unlike my online selling business, blog income (or anything similar) is not directly affected by the lockdown. In the past few months, I was unable to ship items because businesses were closed due to the lockdown.
Even if my customers could order online, I have no way to ship the items until the lockdown eased up.
Blog income is dependent on online traffic and does not need any physical items to be shipped.
Give this a thought! 🙂
Another possible source of income that I’m studying now is cryptocurrency trading and investing. It is, however, a very risky kind of investment, thus, I’m taking my sweet time in understanding it before I invest. As of now, I’ve opened an account with Binance and I have started to invest a little money to familiarize myself with how it works.
I’ll be sharing my journey on both blogging and cryptocurrency trading and investing on my blog.
By the way, just to be clear, the information that I share in my blog is my personal journey and it’s not meant to be financial advice. If you need financial advice on investing, please consult a financial advisor and do your own due diligence as well.
Photo by Artem Bryzgalov on Unsplash
After doing this for a few years, I realized that solopreneurship or entrepreneurship is not for everyone. It entails a lot of hard work, dedication, perseverance, and a strong gut to survive the daily challenges.
However, keep in mind that all of these skills can be learned and acquired especially if you’re really passionate about them.
So, if you want to become an entrepreneur but if you think that you’re not ready yet to face these challenges, you can start by building your skills and competencies while saving money for your business capital and for your emergency fund.
Personally, I’d like to advocate entrepreneurship especially to those who think that they can do this.
Entrepreneurship will not only help you improve your life but, it will also help your community and your country.
If you can make your business work, then you will be capable of generating jobs and livelihood for your fellowmen.Four Biggest Challenges of Solopreneurship Click To Tweet
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