The term solopreneur isn’t new, but its meaning is more relevant today than ever before. More people are beginning to leverage technology with their unique skills, personal interests, and current resources to create a second or third stream of income.
The supply of plug and play systems that make it simple to make money with a smartphone or computer have increased tenfold in the past twelve months alone. There are unlimited opportunities in our modern, global, sharing economy to express your creativity, share your passion, or do something you enjoy while getting compensated.
Typically, a solopreneur’s income is a direct result of his or her skills, personality, or presence. In other words, if you’re a solopreneur, without you your business doesn’t run. Examples of solopreneurs are a professional speaker or podcast host. Their business is based on his or her unique delivery of content. A highly-skilled metal craftsman with an online portfolio and an Instagram account showcasing his or her talents is a solopreneur. Teaching piano lessons from home while clients find, book, and pay for lessons with an app is a solopreneur. They come in all shapes and sizes, but what solopreneurs have in common is they harness the power of online commerce to grow a business based on how they can personally add value.
A solopreneur does not become successful overnight. As she looks down from the mountaintop at her accomplishments, she sees what she overcame to enjoy the epic views from the top. She also knows the more she climbs the better it gets. Getting to the top requires self-discovery, honing a skill, practicing a sport or talent, or acquiring a resource to monetize. The person at the top is different than the person who started at the bottom at the trailhead. You’re stronger, fitter, and wiser.
If you’re a solopreneur on your mountain, chances are you have more than one of the traits below. If not, you will soon enough! Personally, I failed my way to success. I wouldn’t take any of the failures back, because each failure was really a lesson, and those lessons made me better.
1. You know what you want.
You are constantly asking yourself what you want. You can see it. You probably have it written down. You know where you are going and you think about it all day every day. It excites you and you enjoy the daily actions that get you closer to that goal.
Last year I met Hugh Hilton at an event. During our conversation he made the comment, “If you don’t know where you’re going you’ll never get where you want to go.” It’s so true! I didn’t know where I wanted to go for a long time. This was because I wasn’t totally sure who I was. I found that the more I looked inside myself the more I understood myself, and the more I could get clear on what I wanted. The key was looking inside myself as opposed to outside. I found that it actually wasn’t more money or more success that I wanted. It was freedom. I now know what motivates me: being able to do what I want when I want. A bucket full of money or a free trip around the world? I’ll take the latter please.
Knowing this shifted my life. When I saw with laser focus what I wanted I began to get it. Visualization is a powerful technique. It has helped athletes make the perfect throw, patients cure chronic disease, and salespeople crush their numbers. You can use it too, in your business.
If you’re not already in the practice of visualizing, start with 3 minutes a day. Visualize first thing in the morning or right before you fall asleep. There are scientific reasons these times of the day are best.
At night, before you fall asleep take three deeps breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. After you have breathed and you feel calm and relaxed, in your mind’s eye see what it is that you want. Where are you? What are you doing? How does it feel? Who are you with? What are your wearing? Do you smell anything? What is the weather like?
In this relaxed state your visualization connects subconsciously, causing it to remain with you at all times.
Practicing in the morning sets intention for your day. When you wake up, before you look at your phone, before you even get out of bed, ask yourself how you want to feel today. What do you want the outcome of your day to be? See yourself throughout the day, on your commute, getting coffee, talking to colleagues, cooking, or picking your kids up from school. How do you want to show up in those daily activities? What would make them a success?
By setting an intention and locking it in with an image you are setting the stage to get what you want.
2. You ask yourself before you act
Before you act or make a decision, you ask yourself if it will bring you closer or further away from your goals. If it will bring you closer, you do it. If it won’t, then you don’t.
When I was rebuilding my life after I got divorced, I found myself doing things I didn’t really care for anymore. One beautiful spring day I was sitting on a rooftop bar with my best girlfriend, vodka soda in hand, thinking “This used to be fun, and possibly still could be, but I’d much rather be outside enjoying the day, on walk or throwing a Frisbee in the park.”
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for cocktails and good company, but my goal at the time was to be healthier. I started asking myself before I committed to things if they would get me closer or further away from where I wanted to be.
I also had big dreams of growing my online business. I wasn’t exactly sure what it looked like, but I knew that if I continued my search for knowledge, got outside my comfort zone, and really faced my stuff head on I would figure it out.
I began to ask myself when I received invitations if it was in line with my goals and values. Running things through this filter helped me make better, faster decisions while drowning out the noise and distraction of what everyone else wanted me to do, buy, or participate in. Remember, if you’re not steering your ship there are plenty of people who will steer it for you.
3. You surround yourself with others who are crushing it
My friend Mark always says, “Show me the ten people you spend the most time with and I’ll show you your future.” And John Lee Dumas, host of the popular podcast EO Fire, says “You are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with.” I couldn’t agree more!
I recently heard of an experiment where two glasses are water are spoken to for a period of time, one in a positive, affirming way and the other in negative, berating manner. Afterwards, when put under a microscope, the molecules of the water that were spoken to negatively were frenzied, moving erratically, bumping into and colliding with one another. The molecules of the water that was spoken to in a kind and happy manner were calm, floating effortlessly around one another.
Our bodies are made of 80% water. How are your water molecules behaving? Are the people you surround yourself with speaking to you positively or negatively? How do you talk to yourself?
Spend time with those who bring you joy, build you up, entertain you, make you laugh, hold space for you to be you, inspire you, teach you, want the best for you, and have your back.
When you’re feeling good, your energetic frequency is higher, which causes your output, or your productivity, to flow easily and effortlessly. It’s higher quality too. As a solopreneur, your authenticity is your “it-factor.” The amount of time you spend in a positive emotional state will be directly related to your success. This is the Law of Attraction at work.
Think back to the last time you spent time with your best friend or a colleague. How did you feel when you said goodbye? When you leave an interaction with someone feeling great, that’s a good sign. If not, you might want to reconsider that relationship.
4. You embrace notoriety
You’re ok with people knowing you. In fact, a lot of people do. A solopreneur must wear many hats and form many relationships. The fact is, as a solopreneur, you want people to know you. Your business is your brand. It is your personality, your craft, or your skill, and you want people to know about it. The more people who know what you do the more business opportunities you will have.
5. You have a mentor and/or coach
The most successful solopreneurs didn’t magically or suddenly get good at their craft. They honed their skills over many years and worked with mentors and coaches to become the best.
A business grows as much as its leader grows. Having a mentor to navigate the emotional ups and downs of solopreneurship helps you see the lessons, make sense of them, and use them as fodder for upward momentum. If you don’t have a coach or mentor, get one now. An investment in yourself if the best investment you can make.
If you’re still on the mountain, you are willing to look at yourself honestly. You’re open to feedback that is hard to hear. You get that from a coach. We don’t grow when life is rainbows and butterflies. We grow when things are tough and we have to evolve, see things differently, eat some crow, face a fear, or confront someone we love. Those are the moments you must draw from your core, your inner Knowing, your intuition, that’s where your highest potential lives. And that’s where a mentor or coach helps you go.