So, you are maybe sat there right now, contemplating life as a solopreneur, and working out how to turn that great business idea you have been thinking about for months into a reality. However, before you take that huge leap into the unknown and make that shift from corporate or home life into the world of business, there are a few basic steps to take that will improve your odds of success.
1. Create a professional and inspirational working environment
If there is one thing you have to get used to pretty quickly as a solopreneur it is learning to work successfully and productively on your own, and that is why your working environment is so important, especially if you are starting your business at home. It has to be functional yet inspiring, quiet and secluded away from extraneous noise and distractions, with a specifically designated work/office space. It is not just a matter of creating a space for a desk or work table in a corner of your living space, it is all about creating a business-like environment that separates your business and home lives. The trick is to create a business space that works for you and inspires you, whether it is a fully functioning office with desk, computer kit and meeting table, or a more informal and funky tech workspace. As long as it works for you and keeps you motivated and professional in your business approach.
2. Manage your work/life balance
Ask any solopreneur what the main challenges are and it is pretty safe to say that one of the top ones will be the difficulties in managing work-life balance - many will say it is impossible to achieve as a solopreneur in the early stages of setting up a new business! However, it is important to try and get some kind of balance, particularly if you are working from home. One of the best ways of achieving that separation between home and work life is to create daily activity schedules and rituals, and stick to them! Work out a routine that includes designated periods of time for business, with drinks and lunch breaks slotted into the daily schedule. Also, build in some time for a quick walk outside just to get some fresh air, some perspective, and to keep your body functioning properly. Make sure that you do not spend every evening at your desk or worktable, just because you are working from home. Ensure you build in quality family time into your daily routine, including leisure time with friends, and maintain those relationships with your friends, family and colleagues. It will ensure you maintain perspective during the busy, stressful early days of solopreneurship and building a new business.
3. Keep focused and productive
Let’s be honest, if you are a solopreneur and working from home, there is perhaps a temptation at times to maybe take too relaxed an approach in your environment at those key times when you need to be most productive. You need to treat each working day with the same discipline that would be applied if you were in a corporate environment. For example, start your day at a set time, have a set of work rules that you can apply even when the going gets tough, stick to your schedules and keep reviewing them to ensure you are on track, set up an electronic time management schedule with reminders to keep you focused. Above all, remind yourself each day of the goals you have set for yourself as a way of keeping you on track.
4. Dress for success
Okay, so you are a solopreneur working from home, so who gets to see what you look like for most of the day? (unless you spend a lot of time on skype or in meetings of course!). There is often the temptation for solopreneurs to just throw on anything to wear, and not really take the trouble to dress the part of an entrepreneur trying to build a new business. Speak to many successful solopreneurs and they will tell you that one great way to motivate yourself in a morning and get into the right mindset to build your business is to dress the part. So, instead of sitting at your desk in your old T-Shirt and sweatpants or dressing grown, put on your business attire and start looking like the successful solopreneur you want to be, and take yourself seriously. You will be surprised at what a difference it can make to your productivity, your creativity, and your mindset.
5. Get your daily routine organised
We all need routine in our lives, and for the solopreneur this is particularly the case. It is all too easy to let things slip when there is no-one checking on you to ensure that deadlines are being met, projects completed, and goals achieved. So, get that routine in place and stick to it. There are some great apps in the marketplace, many of them free, which help the solopreneur to put daily routines in place, and help you to stick to your daily goals. Let’s face it, we’re all guilty of procrastinating when it comes to working from home. A great way to tackle this is to set a routine for yourself. Setting up a work structure for your day will help you to stay focused and complete each task in a timely manner. There is also a huge sense of satisfaction to be had at the end of each day when you can sit down and reflect on everything achieved.
6. Connect, communicate and engage
One of the key challenges for the solopreneur is recognising that it can be all too easy to slip into a habit of spending all your time locked away in your office, slogging away at your desk each day, without having any contact with other people. Just because you are working on your own doesn’t mean you don’t need communication and contact with other people - after all, there is nothing so valuable as bouncing your ideas off other like-minded people, or sharing challenges and experiences with others. So, build into your daily schedule some Skype time or Facetime or other networking with friends, family, colleagues, advisors and clients. Maximise your social media platforms and networks to connect, communicate and engage with those around you, and keep talking.
So, the next time you head into your solopreneur working environment, remember these tips and start building your business with a more positive approach to managing your life and work balance.