I remember vividly that fateful day when my wife was up and had already dressed for work. However, yours truly was still in bed, observing my lady, without the slightest inkling of what to do next. That day was the first time I woke up a jobless dude, without the next job as a backup. It also marked my first day as a solopreneur, playing out in the insurance line.
For a 40-year-old guy who had worked for 20 years to be out of a job is almost a nightmare coming alive. If you can’t relate, imagine Freddy Krueger standing right in front of you, with only your breath separating his face from yours.
For one, you know very well that the day of a consistent paycheck has ended. You are on your own now. If you choose this journey, you have chosen to be a tiger that hunts alone, without the support of a wolfpack or a lions’ pride.
Now, back to the life of a solopreneur. There are so many ways you can end up a solopreneur. Small business, blogging, e-hailing, financial planner, provided that you are into these as a full-timer.
For those who started the journey early in their career development, the route into solopreneurship is easier as compared to the middle-agers who hop on the ship out of nowhere.
YOUR WORLD SUDDENLY BECOMES ALIEN TO YOU
The first day without a job was a joy. I remember sending my wife out from the house with a kiss and went on for a long shower. No rush. No need to clock in and of course, no need to give a damn of what the board thought of my latest P&L.
But reality started biting after a few days. Again, I watched my wife changed into her suit while I still lied on the bed. Things weren’t right anymore. I hated going into my insurance agency office because I wasn’t performing. Where I used to enjoy doing cold callings when selling food ingredients, I felt like a fake when it came to insurance.
The situation got so bad that I even stopped myself from calling up my former colleagues and friends. What would they think if I called them? They might think that I was planning to sell them insurance.
Needless to say, I avoided all public functions due to the new inferiority complex. I was withdrawn and feeling hopeless with the arrival of each day. Yeah, it was that bad.
IT’S OK TO GO BACK TO WHAT YOU KNOW
If your solopreneurship isn’t going the way you wanted, bear in mind that you could always turn back to what you know. That’s the thing about this simple business model. It’s simple and no frill. And you don’t have to worry about your employees.
I was in the insurance full time for four months and all I ever achieved was one premium from my sister in law. My so-called agency manager had even threatened me with dismissal due to my dismal performance. Who can blame him though? The experience teaches me that one cannot excel in everything. Stick to the water if you are a fish and don’t try to climb a tree.
Learning to give up is probably one of the most important lessons that I learned during those agonizing times. I quickly grabbed the opportunity to head a medium-sized bakery when approached by a head hunter. From then on, everything started falling back to the right place.
WITHDRAWAL SYNDROME FROM WORK ADDICTION
Going back to working for others felt so right after what seemed like a bout of experiences in the wilderness. For twenty years, we were so used to be in a shackle.
We counted on our employer for things like our monthly salary, the next promotion, bonus, training, and our annual leave approval. The company paid us to be busy and to look busy. There was even a series of KPIs that calculated the results of our busy-ness aka action plan.
Imagine the moment when we stepped into the shoes of a solopreneur. Nobody tells us what we should do and no disciplinary action if we decide to watch three movies in a single day. Remember the euphoria when our superior praised us? The high actually comes from a chemical called dopamine that our body releases after certain stimulation. Sex being one of them.
Short of being a workaholic, it never crossed my mind that I had a work addiction issue. After God brought me into His provision in the form of my current business in food ingredients, that’s when I realized that my problem was serious. I can’t tolerate a day without working.
Although, I may have delivered the products, did my sales call, collected my money and yet, I didn’t feel good if I got more than two days in a continuous break. Me think, many of you can relate to that. We gotta work just to feel our self-worth.
A new retiree can relate to the kind of withdrawal feeling of a new solopreneur. In a way, we would have it worse than a retiree. They have friends who are in similar predicament but for us, our friends are busy in the grind.
We have no one to turn to at this point in our lives. Even our spouse may not understand the emotional turbulence that is happening within. Read more about work addiction in Psychology Today.
My immediate support is in God. The prayers when I wake up and before I go to bed keep me grounded in His Rest. In the Grace of Jesus Christ, Rest in the Peace of His Right Hand while everyone else can cry about the storm “outside”. God is my boss now and forever.
The next support comes from our human counterpart. Our clients, the very people who experience first hand the value our business provides. Frankly, not even friends can understand the work we are doing, let alone be a support to us.
However, if your work doesn’t put you in direct contact with your clients, try renting a co-working space. Imagine you have somewhere to go to every morning just like your old corporate office, and yet, you can just leave at your convenience.
No more bosses breathing down on you when you decide to leave early. The best part, you can choose the people you want to interact with and ditch the ones you don’t like.
SELECT THE MOST PROFITABLE ROUTE
You will definitely relate to this if you are in the e-hailing business. Let’s explore what my friend, Henry did when he started his side hustle in Uber. He started e-hailing by following the simple SOP of using UBER’s mobile app.
Now, Henry is a sharp fox. It didn’t take him long to realize that the airport trip chalks up the most profit. As a result, he focused most of his trips servicing clients to and from the airport route, making more money per km than the normal trips. By following the most profitable route strategy, Henry could also free up more time for other opportunities like licensing for new e-hailing drivers and others.
As a solopreneur, we have limited resources. Our time, space for inventories, delivery rounds and of course, our capital. These are all valuable but finite fluid assets a solopreneur needs, in order to grow his or her wealth. In order to capitalize on the “most profitable route” strategy, you need to wise up on your bread and butter. Learn the inner mechanics of your business as soon as possible.
In my case, instead of sticking to the basic dough enhancer for the existing clients, I introduced to them a better product. Where the basic dough enhancer will just give the dough a lift prior to baking, the more expensive version will induce a softening effect to the bread crumb after bake.
In this way, my clients produce better quality bread with a slight price increase, thus achieving a higher profit per client as compared to earlier days. As a result of this exercise, both my revenue and profit increase without adding new clients.
FREE UP MORE TIME
Time is the most important asset of a solopreneur. You can regain your cash capital, but definitely not time.
The essence of the “most profitable route” is to free up our time in this game of business. A one-man entrepreneur can increase his wealth simply by making good use of this limited resource. If you love to create wealth, time will open up more money making opportunities for you. On the other side of the spectrum, if you love to relax or even to spend more time with your loved ones, this is the right direction to take.
Handled correctly, this could be the most beautiful phase of our entrepreneurial life. At this phase, I get to bring my wife out for lunch because of my leisure time. Three years as a solopreneur has given me immense freedom to bring my family to different holiday destinations, unheard of when I was underemployment.
Not many business owners believe in solopreneurship though. But for those of us who savor this particular niche in entrepreneurship, guard this gem with your life. Many got the notion that a solopreneur is tied up with the business operation all the time, but I beg to differ.