FIVE THINGS I WISH SOMEONE TOLD ME BEFORE I BECOME A SOLOPRENEUR
While going solo in business may mean you don’t have to report to a boss; it doesn’t mean you don’t need a team at some point in the journey. My first few years as a solopreneur were spent doing everything myself. I failed to form and nurture a potential group of people who could help in things like finance and legal advice. You may not be able to hire them or outsource the work to them immediately, but be honest about it. Ask them questions to learn and maybe, barter a service in exchange for theirs.
Surround yourself with people who are willing to tell you the truth, even if it hurts. They don’t have to be people who know the industry you are in. In fact, it is better if they know you as a person outside of your business. I have a handful of friends who know me fairly well but I simply assume they will be intentional about checking on me after knowing I have started my own business. Don’t assume. Identify the person, ask to be held accountable, and follow-up regularly.
Your business idea is nothing original but you are. We can all get pumped up about our idea and think it's the only solution in the world. However, with enough research, you may realize that someone else is offering the same or similar product or service. When the imposter-syndrome strikes, look at yourself in the mirror for the answer. You are not in the business of selling that one product or service. You are in the business of selling YOU - the one thing that cannot be replaced. There are tons of books about branding, so why bother writing another one? I realize that my perspective and experiences are unique, and I can get excited about weaving that aspect of me into the concept of branding. I also realize that everyone I meet is unique. And learning about them in order to get inspired with brand-driven solutions gives me a good kind of goosey!
Your business cannot be everything to everyone. We all want to wear a cape and be a superhero. It is healthy to be excited about your business idea and believe that you can do some good in the society and the world. However, don’t try to solve every problem. Growing up in a fast-paced society like Singapore, I am all about efficiency and productivity. But I am also realizing the benefits of focusing on one thing and doing it well. If your business focuses on consistently delivering one desired result for your customers, your process will be simpler and you will gain trust over time. More importantly, your business will not dominate your schedule and rob you of time with the people you love.
It’s okay to take detours and make pitstops. Especially for a startup and new business, you have to constantly review your processes, measure your effectiveness, and make the necessary changes. Don’t go too fast in the beginning without knowing how to fuel yourself. I find surrounding myself with people who can teach me or hold me accountable, the first two things I wish someone told me, are what fuels me. Don’t be afraid to try a new workflow or strategy. If it fails, you have learned something new. You will not appreciate the speed on a highway if you have not handled a few bumps along the byways.
Branding can be a tedious and complex process, capable of hurting like a brain-freeze if you overthink it. As your business evolves throughout its lifetime, your brand will take shape and become more authentic and relatable. In this series of blog posts, I will be "freezing" a moment in the life of a business and discussing what they are doing to become memorable.