By Regan Hillyer
I could have also titled this, “Stop Doing What You Are Not Good At And Become An Entrepreneur.”
This article essentially continues on from my recent Forbes Coaching Council articles. It’s the third part of a series around building a successful online business and a powerful personal brand and some of the pitfalls to avoid when moving through these processes.
Here I’ll cover the five tell-tale actions that mark you as a solopreneur and how you can shift these aspects into being an entrepreneur.
In my role as a business, life and entrepreneurial coach and reflecting on my journey to now having created an eight-plus-figure business, I can honestly say that I have seen so many of my clients who are solopreneurs. You may be new to that term. In my opinion, that’s the polite term for the more commonly used “control freak” or “roost-ruler.”
And I admit frankly to having been one of these people — until I saw the benefits to my own self-growth and that of my businesses, of releasing myself from those aspects of the enterprise-building that I simply was not particularly good at managing and executing. As your business grows, so do the responsibilities and tasks, and it is simply not possible to take on all of this work on your own.
The “solo” part of the word “solopreneur” defines it perfectly. It can be the reluctance to give up any control over the enterprise that has been created. See if you recognize yourself in the following traits.
Solopreneurs work for themselves, either in an online capacity or in a small but burgeoning business and are in no rush to build a team to support this growth because they are not yet “in the space” where they feel that they can either trust or delegate tasks to team members.
The solopreneur offten displays the traits of wanting to control even the smallest aspects of their business. Even when they are not especially good at the aspect of the business niche that they are working in, they may still believe that the only way that they can have overall governance and, hence, control of their enterprise is to do and be everything. They often believe that they and only they know what is best for their business.
Solopreneurs also tend to believe that because an individual has not been there from the conception of the enterprise that they can not possibly understand the creative process, the stumbling first steps and the willpower that was required to launch the brand, product or service. They may believe that it is their “baby” and anyone else who hasn’t been there from the first can’t effectively contribute or bring any creativity at this point.
Solopreneurs are usually anxious to grow and build. They may genuinely seek forward movement for their enterprise and get frustrated when they get bound up in the minutiae of some of the admin or compliance issues around running a business. Either the admin gets left behind, creating a rat’s nest of paperwork, or the solopreneur reluctantly gets bound up in the tasks around compliance — and then invariably, the creativity and growth of the business get neglected.
So how do you turn from solopreneur to entrepreneur?
The fifth and, in my experience, most commonly occurring solopreneur trait is their ego. Sadly, yes, often the blocks around growth and business-building are ego-related. The solopreneur may be reluctant to admit that there are various aspects of their creation that they have little or no viable skills in managing.
First, be super honest with yourself. Admit that there are aspects of your business that you are less than perfect at managing, and identify those aspects. Then ask yourself, “How can I gracefully shift out of those aspects, at the same time trusting, ‘letting go’ and permitting a professional who has those skills to best drive?” At this point, the true entrepreneur will creatively brainstorm how this can be achieved and what practical, physical steps need to be taken to make this transition a reality.
It is a positive business health-check to go through this process and identify your weaknesses and, in turn, your business’ vulnerabilities. Then ask around, use your connections, get support from your mentor, throw it out there and check out how others have handled this natural and organic growth strategy.
We all have trust issues around inviting others into a situation that we have solely created. Moving away from this state requires a large shift, and although I am advocating that you do indeed trust those professionals who you take on board, know also that the road may not always be smooth. Part of your personal growth and the growth of your enterprise is that you are entering into a state of constant learning the minute you let go of the control that has been holding you back. You will still need governance and regular discussions with your team; it is a gentle, hands-on approach; however, there is a line between micro-managing someone and trusting enough to allow them to autonomously manage the niche in which they are skilled.
Take heart in the knowledge that an aspect that you were not the most creative at is being handled by a higher-skilled individual and that this will free up your time and focus for the areas within your specific strengths. And, as your business flourishes and matures, there will be more instances where you will stop, take stock and evaluate just how much you can effectively do in the new niche that you wish to investigate and grow.
If you have been the solopreneur, it is most likely that your skillset lies in research and development and creative market analysis. Just as you have had to identify your soulmate tribe to develop products and services for, you can now use those same skills for developing your support team.