5 Things to Know about Going Out on Your Own

Untitled designThis month I celebrated a very special milestone – one year in business for myself. Here’s what I learned as a solopreneur:

You’ll Get By with a Little Help from Your Friends

Sure, it’s nice if they occasionally treat you to Starbucks, which will almost certainly be off your budget that first year of business, but you’ll be surprised just how much help your friends and acquaintances are willing to provide you. From referrals to administrative assistance, friends are friends for a reason and don’t be embarrassed to take them up on their offers.

But it’s not just your friends, many professional connections are willing to help as well and here’s why:

  • Everyone likes a scrappy success story. Think about the movie Rudy where a diminutive guy landed a spot on the Notre Dame football team out of sheer hard work and determination. In the end, it was his peers that helped him get bench time and suit up for a game.
  • Most people want to do what you’re doing. They want to say good-bye to that corporate sentence they grudgingly carry out each day.  Seeing someone successfully shrug off “the man” makes everyone smile.

Say Good-bye to Work/Life Balance

Many people leave corporate America to have a better quality of life. You will – most likely – have greater flexibility in your work hours if you become a solopreneur. However, you’ll work longer hours, with less pay (at least initially).

But before you say forget about it, the beauty of working for yourself is that even though you’re working more hours, it feels like less. The passion you have for the job you do feels more like an enjoyable activity than work.

Not once this year have I woken up dreading “going to work.” How many of you can say that?

You Gotta Be Hungry

I asked a few very valued people for advice when I thought about going out on my own. The best advice I received came from Frank Kenny and I can still hear him say those words, “You gotta be huuuungry.”

He meant you have to want to be self-employed. You have to be willing to make sacrifices and want to succeed more than anything. You must give up the security of a good paying job for absolutely nothing other than the idea that you can do it. Going out on your own is not for the weak of heart. It takes intestinal fortitude and knowing that you might fall behind in your bills before you start turning a profit.

Well meaning friends will forward you job opportunities but to be successful you have to stick it out. You have to put in your time and you gotta want it to work and work hard to do it.

Steal if You Have To

When word gets around and you start getting more work, you’ll be able to turn work down or refer it to some of your other solopreneur friends, but in the beginning you’ll probably need to take everything you can. By doing this, you’ll ensure you can pay your bills and you’ll begin to make a name for yourself. But the work schedule is up to your clients and not to you so there will be days when you’re buried and days when you spend hours surfing the web trying to dig up work.

On your busiest days, you’ll need to steal time every minute you have it. That means working while you’re cooking or while the kids are watching TV. It means taking your work with you where ever you go – reading something for a client in carline as you pick up the kids or from the waiting room at a doctor’s office. You will need to use every minute you have so steal them from where you can.

You Get Paid for Your Time Until You Don’t

Time is money and unlike a job working for someone else, no one is paying you to sit around. When you’re not working, you’re not getting paid. Keep this in mind when you’re tempted to use your work day to run a load of laundry. Yes, you’re working from home but cleaning house is not your job, unless you run a maid service and you are a paying client. Someday, maybe you can look to producing a product that will get you out of the exchange of time and money but for today, work comes first.

A few last words of advice for those of you considering a big jump:

  • Have some savings. You’ll sleep better at night.
  • Tell everyone what you’re doing specifically in terms they understand. Your industry vernacular might not be theirs.
  • Get rid of the fear and just do. The timing will never be perfect. Just trust that the road that led you to this point did so for a reason and believe in yourself.

If you’re thinking about going out on your own, or have done so, I’d love to hear from you.


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