Clients often ask why solopreneurs fail. I often think about why they fail too. I am the Queen of Positive Thinking so I probably wouldn’t choose to think of it as failure, rather as learning I could build on in the next phase of the Working for Myself Plan, but here’s what I see.
Lack of money. You don’t need money to set up a business working from home (depending on what you do) but you probably need money behind you to pay the bills during your start-up phase. So you either get a part-time job, or rely on a partner/friends/family/the bank (unlikely, that one) or you use your redundancy money, savings or inheritance. When it runs out, you think you have to give up. And during the time in which you are spending it, you didn’t do enough of the right things soon enough to make it last longer. One of my mentors taught me that we always make better financial decisions and do a better deal when we don’t have money to spend or invest.
Lack of time. If you are working at home trying to set up your own small business, it’s likely you also have some other commitments you are trying to squeeze in around it – family life, child care, looking after elderly parents, housework, a part-time or full-time day job. All your time goes on that and there’s nothing left for your start-up.
Lack of energy. See lack of time. If you are doing any or all of those things, they will likely sap all of your energy too. You just cannot bring yourself to do what needs to be done, or you don’t relish any of the tasks so they don’t get done.
Lack of motivation. You don’t want it enough. Or you are starting the business you think you should, the one which seems sensible and likely to bring you in an income. You daren’t believe that you could keep yourself doing what you really love, so you pick a sort of nearly business.
Lack of focus. You are a Creator, an ideas person, and you have been encouraged to believe you are a Scanner, you are even proud of it. This means that you are all ideas and no implementation, seduced by the thrill of the new before you’ve made the previous great and sexy idea work. You have too many ideas. You must choose one and practice serial focus, i.e. put the others on the back burner for now. Only one horse can win the race. Dead heats are very rare, especially for start-ups. Pick one.
Lack of commitment. You pay lip service to wanting your own business. You haven’t yet made what one of my colleagues calls an unbreakable promise to yourself, and you can come up with any number of reasons for that. Can’t we all with any challenge in our lives? Reasons NOT to do something? Sometimes we can make a very good argument for self-sabotage. We human beings are complex creatures if we want to be, if we choose to be.
Health challenges. These can be very debilitating because they mean you do not know when you will be well enough to work. You must prioritise your health first and come back to your own business when you are fit and well. That’s not to say there aren’t things you can be doing meanwhile, like research, reading, planning, visioning, dreaming, designing, limiting your work to three hours a day and so on, but it this is likely to restrict your successful results – for now. What’s the lesson your body is trying to tell you? Listen to that first and attend to that primarily.
Not hungry enough. Somehow you are getting your bills covered, so you are OK. You are not scared about how the mortgage is going to get paid so there’s no need to get out of your comfort zone and ask for the business by making sales.
Too fearful. This is the opposite of not hungry enough. You are so terrified of not being able to feed your family that you cannot do anything in your business, the fear repels everything good. All you can think about is getting a job, at least part-time. And it is a good idea to get into financial integrity, then let’s have another go at your biz even if it’s during evenings and weekends. I’ve seen many a woman start and build a business in the evenings. OK, it’s slower. But it is easily possible once the fear abates.
Not ready yet. You have concerns about the person you hallucinate you are required to become in order to be successful in running your own business. You are not ready to become successful yet. Why not? You fear the changes it may bring. You think it might mean you cannot do something else you love, or be with others you love. Or you will show others up, or people won’t like you. None of this is 100% true, just partly so and it serves you to believe it, for now. You just aren’t ready yet.
Not willing to learn/do what it takes. There are some bits of your business you fear you will not enjoy and either you are unwilling to learn those or cannot afford to outsource them or do not trust others or don’t like the thought of managing others or you are the sort of person who prefers to do everything herself or believes she has to. Perfectionist. Procrastinator. Controlling. Maybe. There is also some discomfort in learning and implementing new stuff and the inevitable growth as a person. You think some things about business are nasty – profits, marketing, selling, asking for the business, administration, PR, internet marketing. You name it, it can become a barrier if you let it.
You don’t have enough support. Either you cannot afford to pay for it or you are unwilling to ask for help. So you must do everything yourself and that’s slow and exhausting. Also you don’t know what you don’t know. Ask someone who does. Get help.
You are impatient. Or unrealistic about how long it takes and you want overnight success.
You are embarrassed. With any combination of the above you are embarrassed to keep turning up to your coaching appointments unable to show what you consider to be any valuable results. You discount the little steps and the little successes and you’d rather hide in your hole than show up and keep on keeping on. You think you should have been able to do it by now. You make erroneous assumptions and allow comparisons with others apparently successful outcomes to make you feel bad when there’s really no need.
You give up too soon. ‘Nuff said. This one is the only true failure in this list. Keep on keeping on. Keep on hanging out with others who are creating their own businesses. Keep on learning. Keep on showing up. Keep on.
I don’t see any of these as failure except the last one and I’m not embarrassed to discuss any of them with you and will not judge you for them. I’ve felt most of them at some point in my business career. That’s why I know them so well. This sort of stuff just goes with the territory. Everyone feels these things at one time or another. All you need is the determination to find a way round the various hurdles in your way, many of which are self-imposed and all of which can be sorted, given enough time.
I help my small business and solopreneur clients with any and all of the above. All you have to do is ask. And then commit. Let’s talk.