Start up my own new business!
Wooo Hooo! I’m on my own! I’m flying solo! I’ll keep my own schedule! Make my own rules! Oh, and I’ll make lots of money$!
No more bosses! No more looks! No more aggravating jerks!
Okay. Now, Your Reality Check?
If you expect your new solo business to thrive, examine your truths about startup, operating, and delivering products and services on your own will not likely satisfy your personal freedom quest. Solopreneurs must build on success and prepare for very different kind of competitive business. We find that many of these gifted entrepreneurs can feel lonely or isolated, and most dangerously, demotivated by less inspired friends and family.
Successful solopreneurs are a unique brand of entrepreneurial leaders.
With the unyielding tenacity of a prize fighter, they are equipped with grit for the challenge. They are experts, and are inclined to specialize with appeal to a particular niche or market.
Just as an accomplished news reporter, they are alert and inquisitive. Their ability to multitask is supported by a well-balanced blend of emotional maturity and natural talent. And, because they are tethered so closely to each task, they understand that their ability to create a sustainable business rests firmly on their own shoulders. Their business idea emerged from their dream; and their willpower and resilience is critical to its success.
Earlier this year on 30 Minute Business Dig, we discussed the importance of self-awareness, an understanding of natural talents and unique attributes that helps to strengthen the solopreneur. We discussed the qualities that help to make the most of their resources and their abilities. But how does the solopreneur generate and sustain the self-inspiration and motivation that is the required ingredient for business success?
Owning and running a business can be rewarding, but it is complex and demanding work. Business owners may be working very hard, and yet feel discouraged and unable to stay on task. What can we do to keep our spirits high, when we have a series of challenges that affect our sales, our ability to effectively market, or when a health issue rears its ugly head? Self-accountability is a critical habit for solopreneurs, and, because we are so close to the operations, our attitude affects momentum more directly than larger organizations.
How do we keep our spirits up?
Create habits to refresh your vision and review your goals.
Revisit your cravings; what fueled your business ideas and energized you to start up. In his recent best seller, The Power of Habit, author Charles Duhigg reminds us that,
“Cravings are what drive habits….Every night, millions of people scrub their teeth in order to get a tingling feeling; every morning millions of people put on their jogging shoes to capture an endorphin rush they’ve learned to crave. And when they get home, after they clean the kitchen or tidy their bedrooms, some of them will spray a bit of Febreeze.”
Find your laughter.
Or better yet, find your yoga class! Billie Frances, founder of Guiding Mindful Change and a Certified Laughter Yoga Leader conducts free community-based Laughter Yoga groups. Billie recommends that taking a time out for a good belly laugh is good for your health and will promote your overall well-being.]
Develop a routine (a habit) of positive behaviors.
Exercise, a pet, a daily phone call to a friend, whatever helps you smile. For many years I have been inspired by the renowned author and speaker, Tim Sanders. One of the activities that Tim recommends in his book, The Likeability Factor, is to find your L-Factor features. The reason I recommend this activity is because Tim directs us to reflect on self-validations. His instructions include:
Think about your biggest fan.
Not a family member, but someone who does not feel obligated to say nice things about you. As you think about this person, consider what converted them from an acquaintance to a supporter. Was it a thing that you did, or a series of events? If he or she were to list your two most likeable features, what would they be?
Now this is only one of many activities where Tim guides he readers, but the lesson learned here is that validation is very important to keep our spirits high. Surround yourself by validating memorabilia, artifacts that remind you of your recognition, and stay in touch with people who have been supportive.
Develop short-term diversions.
Throughout the day, briefly immerse yourself in something that is 100% pleasing. I am a coffee person. I LOVE it! So, when I’m knee-deep in a project that I cannot abandon, I take a moment to brew a fresh cup of coffee. Aaaaaah! The aroma alone is a calming reward, and the step away from tasks helps to lighten the physical and mental load. Because you are a solopreneur, the burden of many administrivia-driven tasks is yours alone. It is amazing what 10 minutes away from the desk can do for your body and your mind.
How can we generate new ideas?
The self-inspired nature of the successful solopreneur feeds their ability to renew their own creativity. The solopreneurs competitive advantage rests in their ability to stay fresh and aware. Our ability to be creative is very relevant to our ability to embrace our inner child. When we are entrenched in the demanding routines required to manage the tasks of a business, we can be swept away from the curiosity that inspired our original startup.
Reading, or if you are an audio person, listen, to materials that depict interesting images, explore new trends and viewpoints.
Irene Kelly, creator of JICT Images shares photographic images to inspire creativity at JICT Images. (http://jictimages.com/). Another avenue to “shake off the cobwebs” on your creativity is to use some of the tools available online. CAUTION! Solopreneurs must calibrate time spent on indulgences to get creative with online tools. We know they are time suckers! So, set aside a block each week to “play” online. Some great sites to nudge your brain are: Entrepreneur.com, Stumbleupon.com, Focus.com, and for writing, explore the Plinky.com tool for prompts.
Revisit a (we suggest device-free) activity, something reflective, that takes you completely away from your routine for a few hours.
Your creativity is like a muscle; if you do not exercise it, it will atrophy. Expose your eyes and ears to colorful, sensory provocative objects and activities. Frankly, some of my best ideas come after I have strolled around the local arts and crafts store, or a garden or “do it yourself” center. For me, there is little more liberating that making something with my hands, decorating a gift package, planting something, painting a piece of old furniture, or designing something with stone or glass.
Explore what experts are talking about.
Meet new people.
Get out of the office and yes, mingle. Cultivate your curiosity about other folks. Ask questions. Go to a conference. Travel and explore. And never be caught without a pen and paper! Write down your wandering thoughts and observations. These notes are invaluable when you return to your office.
Nurture your curiosity and perspective of the world.
Be the person who wonders. What would happen if…? How does that work? There are endless possibilities if you observe circumstances in the world around you. Observe people and processes in a pragmatic way, and make notes.
How do we continue to work hard, especially when others are playing?
Solopreneurs are uniquely motivated people who must embrace methods to stay inspired. The most satisfying outcomes are a result of working hard, using the most effective systems at our disposal, and putting in the long hours of service at our business. The commitment can sometimes be difficult when we are pressed by many more appealing options, especially entertaining ones. So,
Like any skill, self-control can be learned. I know earlier that I mentioned reading. In her book, The Willpower Instinct, Kelly McGonigal provides activities, “Willpower experiments”, to help us to better use our ability for self-control. In the chapter, Your Body Was Born to Resist Cheesecake, Dr. McGonigal describes specific activities that can help when temptations are luring us away from necessary tasks, such as “The 5-Minute Green Willpower Fill-Up”—
- Get out of the office and get to something green!
- Cue up a favorite song on your iPod and walk/jog around the block.
- Play with your dog, on the lawn.
- Yard work or garden
- Fresh air and stretches.
- Anything outdoors—fresh air and green.
Visit your values.
Because our priorities shift and we can become distracted, at FreyWorks & Associates, we use the Values Index Assessment to help our clients clarify what is most important to them. Based on Spranger and Allport’s studies of human value, motivation and drive, this brief activity provides deep insights into how we:
- Set goals that are inspirational–Dream!
- Create roles that are aligned with what motivates us.
- Select jobs that are aligned with our unique talents.
- Manage our performance.
Find out what makes you tick!
Learn more and experience the insights provided in the Values Index activity TODAY! Contact Dr. Deborah Frey at FreyWorks & Associates to sign up for this free assessment. Email at email@example.com.
Revisit your strategic plan.
Sometimes we need a refresher about our business. Review your goals and your dreams. Remember, if you are working outside of your strategic plan, then you may need to reexamine your vision and evaluate your goals. Things change. Are you working smart, or simply working hard? Evaluate your processes and your time strategies.
Keep in mind that although you may not often get to “play hooky”, if you have aligned your business goals with your values, you will LOVE your work. When your work activities have meaning for you, it is fun. And, when you are doing what you do best, you will have fun. The key is to develop systems that help you get to the “fun” work.
Stay away from negative influences and negative people!
REALLY! When possible, find avenues to avoid negativity. As you participate in, or listen to, conversations, learn to detect negative patterns and move on. Just as positive attitudes influence and affect us, negative attitudes are infectious, truly highly contagious! If you permit critics to damage your momentum, you will burn precious hours and risk an injured ego.
Try these tips and learn more about the journey of solopreneurs on 30 Minute Business Dig with me, Deb Frey and my co-host, Lisa Kanda!
Solopreneurs, do you have a story, a technique, a strategy that may help others in their success quest? Please share with us by sending your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell us how you manage your challenges and successes!