When I took the route of self-employment, little did I know that the decision will prove to be an uphill task? Setting your daily goals when you are actually reporting to no one might look comfortable and cozy, but can be extremely hard to make work. According to the Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Advocacy, about 80% of small businesses survive their first year. While this might seem encouraging, only 50% cross the first five-year milestone.
Entrepreneurship itself is a lonely path – and if you’re a solo entrepreneur working out of home, then believe me buddy, I totally understand your pain.
Solopreneurs are the entrepreneurs who run their business single-handedly without a dedicated team. They may not have a team to manage, but that doesn’t make their journey any easier. In fact, they work every big and small task on their own, juggling multiple things at a time. And doing all of this while maintaining a positive mindset and sailing through it all alone. It’s sure not easy, right?
I have just completed a year being a solopreneur. On top of it I have been operating my business out of the home.
Interestingly, we are still conditioned to believe that a married woman with kids, working out of home – is practically doing NOTHING. However, statistics suggest otherwise. 60% of the home-based businesses are ‘non-employer’ businesses.
While I am glad that I survived 365 days of my journey as a solo-entrepreneur, there have been numerous instances when I was bogged down by difficulties and roadblocks. But you know what has been the toughest of all the challenges? It is the lousy comments from people that often force you to reconsider the chosen path. And it’s worse when those comments come from your close friends and family members. Of course, most of the time it’s not intentional but is sufficient to shake one’s confidence, especially if someone is still learning the nuances of the business, all alone.
So, what are the five worst things to say to a home-based solopreneur on a given day? Here’s the quick list.
1. You must be getting a lot of free time
Like really? People might think that home-based businesses leave you with plenty of spare time, but nothing could be further from the truth.
I remember, when I began my journey as a freelance writer, I failed to set my schedule for a good 3 months! Every time the doorbell or my phone rang, it was something as silly as ‘could you please collect our parcel’ or ‘I’m sending one of my friends to your place in an hour. Give him the bag you’d purchased for me last week’.
This was not just a random request but more of a ‘you’re free anyway’ reaction.
So, I took a hard call. I literally stopped entertaining any such requests and gradually it did work. People understood there was a reason I behaved ruthlessly on workdays and super sociable over the weekends.
Because freelancing doesn’t mean ‘free’. It implies high standards of self-discipline, a non-negotiable schedule, and stringent deadlines. Anything but free time, right?
2. At least you’re not sitting idle
This is a recent one that came from a close and dear relative, at a time when I was setting goals for the new year. Needless to say, my excitement was shattered to pieces.
First of all, someone staying at home, even if they are not working at a professional capacity, could never sit idle. And here I am on the verge of exhausting my mental and creative abilities, hearing something so absurd.
Solopreneurship is as much work (sometimes even more) as a full-time job. Comparing the work to pursuing a hobby is plain disrespectful.
3. Can you run a few errands for me?
Yes, sure! Only if you purchase groceries for me during your lunch break and drop my son to the daycare while on your way to the office.
Sounds funny? It would be the same for a home-based solopreneur.
Let’s not get into details here. Please hire help for your household chores. A solopreneur is busy running a business.
4. Solopreneurship is for introverts
Perhaps the term ‘introvert’ is a mild version used for ‘poor team player’. However, in this case, both the terms are horrendously inappropriate.
Being an entrepreneur requires a lot of skills, including a strong vision and a positive mindset. Introverts can be as good leaders as extroverts, some famous examples being Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. In fact, the study conducted by ghSmart, a Chicago based consultancy firm, researched the behavior of 2,000 CEOs for over 10 years, showed that most of the successful ones were introverts.
Similarly, solopreneurship is all about your skills, attitude and hard work. One can be successful in the venture regardless of their natural personality traits.
5. Without a team, it must be easy
Oh absolutely! Except that we have to manage the strategy, operations, accounts, marketing, sales and after-sales everything on our own.
The ground rule is, no one has it easy. It’s only different for solopreneurs. Where entrepreneurs have a team to manage and delegate tasks to, solopreneurs prefer doing most of it by themselves – at least in the beginning. As the business scales up, we use powerful weapons called outsourcing and collaboration.
A typical day of solopreneurs is full of to-do lists including the core operations, book-keeping, designing contracts and handling business calls. Without a team, it could be overwhelming but certainly not easy.
Being Solo is Not Easy
Solopreneurship is just like any other form of entrepreneurship. It requires the same amount of dedication and planning. Sure, with the rise of the ‘gig economy’ freelancing and solopreneurship is definitely booming. According to a 2018 PayPal report, one in every four freelancers is from India.
However, working solo from the ‘comfort’ of the home is not as comfortable as it sounds. In fact, many a time, it’s much harder. So next time you happen to meet a solopreneur, especially working out of home, please be empathetic and not casual in passing judgment.