The 4 Scariest Things About Being a Freelancer or Solopreneur — and How to Conquer Them
By Laura Gayle, Business Woman Guide
Your dream of financial independence is tied up in your drive to become a solopreneur who can easily handle daily operations, investments, and cash flow. This requires a lot of work and can become a real challenge if you run into the kinds of issues that plague most solopreneurs.
Thankfully, there are great ways that you can avoid this problem and become the success that you deserve to be. These four common issues can be easily combated if you know what you’re doing and are willing to adapt to the continually changing issues of this career path.
1. The Pressure of Solitude
As a solopreneur, you’re in a unique position that’s both empowering and a little scary. First of all, you’re working as your own boss after years of taking orders from other people. This heady situation is one that you’ve fought your whole life to achieve, and you’re excited to finally take charge of your financial situation and everything else about your business.
However, that means you’re now in charge of everything, even the most tedious elements of your business. Even worse, you’re going to have nobody to whom you can turn when things get challenging, and you may run into difficulties with decision making. You’re entirely in charge here, so there’s nobody to blame when things go wrong but you. This situation is not always easy for many to handle.
The best way to manage this solitude is to get help. Outsourcing tasks — especially those you aren’t good at or cyclical ones that aren’t critical for daily business operations — can help you share the responsibility and still take care of business.
For example, you can use a tax calculator to get an idea of how much you’ll owe in taxes before you have somebody else figure and file them for you. Outsourcing can lighten your load a little and make your life as a solopreneur easier to handle with grace and style.
2. Potential Financial Struggles
Another nice thing about being a solopreneur is that you are entirely in charge of your finances and will get the money you deserve for your hard work. However, you’re also responsible for paying all bills and covering costs for your company. When you’re struggling to pay bills early on in your career, you’ll have few ways to get help for this tough situation.
Solopreneurs’ struggles typically occur early on, before you find great clients who trust your work and provide you with excellent jobs. If you can get through this financially tight period and identify people who are willing to help you out, there’s a good chance that you will succeed. However, you’ll need to expand your business fairly quickly and make connections that can help you succeed more easily.
One great way to address this need is to expand your business as much as possible by planning for and attending trade shows.
High-quality networking events and conferences let you meet potential clients and a broad array of customers who may be interested in what you have to offer. You might also meet up with mentors in your field who can provide tips and advice on how to achieve a higher level of success — a helpful step especially if you protect yourself beforehand by trademarking your ideas and inventions.
3. Continual Travel Demands
A good solopreneur is somebody who continually hustles and is ready to travel as much as necessary for the health of their business. However, this situation can present challenges if it leaves you without a home base or a sturdy place to operate from. For example, if you’re constantly flying to meet new clients and getting stuck in long lines in airports, you can get stressed out and suffer from problems with your health.
For example, you may end up feeling a lack of connection when there’s no place you can call home. You could also get fatigued trying to find a comfortable place to stay in an unfamiliar area. Renting hotels may seem luxurious at first but can become quickly expensive, repetitive, and difficult to handle emotionally and physically. However, you don’t have to feel like a homeless traveler to survive as a solopreneur.
The best tip here is to branch out and re-envision your living situation. Consider renting out your home as a vacation rental to offset periodic rent for inexpensive apartments in areas where you regularly travel. This method lets you make a little “passive income” while you settle down in a town or a city for a week or two at a time, affording you a living environment where you can feel comfortable and relaxed. Short-term homes often don’t offer many frills, so make sure you don’t pay too much for them.
4. The “Workaholic’s Curse” for Freelancers
As a solopreneur, you aren’t afraid to work long hours every day to get your tasks completed on time. This workaholic nature is a huge contributor to your daily workflow and helps your business earn the success you deserve to achieve.
However, if you struggle with taking time off for yourself, as your own boss AND sole employee, it’s possible to fall into a potentially damaging cycle of excessive work.
For example, you may end up working 10-12 hours, six to seven days a week, and burn yourself out. Yes, you need to work hard as a solopreneur and shouldn’t be afraid to get work done. However, you may find yourself running out of steam, unable to finish all your work duties on time. Even worse, working until you burn out can cause health problems and even trigger a collapse.
The solution here is to force yourself not to work when it’s not necessary and to take vacations where you leave your work behind. Consider going camping or traveling to wilderness areas or other spots with no Wi-fi, where you cannot access your work. Periods rest can feel unnatural and even worrisome for those who love working, but they’re necessary if you don’t want to tire yourself out or burn out early in the midst of your solo career.
Running your own business is an eternal balancing act. Fiscal responsibility, logistical and operational puzzles, tax and financial requirements: All the details fall on your shoulders and can get overwhelming.
Remembering to ask for help, plan for your own well-being, and take the necessary time off can go a long way toward keeping your business — and yourself — healthy and thriving.