It’s no joke—while there may be plenty of “gurus” out there claiming that you’re just a laptop and Facebook Ad account away from a lifetime on the beach—owning your own business isn’t always sunshine and roses.
But having control over your professional destiny, making your own hours, and having the chance to grow a company from startup to success is a siren song most natural-born entrepreneurs find difficult to ignore.
So how can you make sure the deck is stacked in your favor? What can you do to protect your budding business from failure?
5 Reasons Most Solopreneurs Fail in the First Year
REASON #1 – They Expect to “Get Rich Quick”
There’s no shortage of people promising wealth and success if you just follow their “simple system”, but the truth is, unless you’re planning on robbing a bank, you’re not going to get rich quick.
Plenty of successful entrepreneurs may have started their own companies to get rich, but very few, if any, did it quickly.
Here’s an example. Facebook—ever hear of it? From 2004 through 2006 it was tiny (in comparison to what it is today), and only open to university students. That’s 2 years before it opened registration and started the path to become what it is today.
Many entrepreneurs today feel like if they’re not acquired after 3 months, “they’re out”.
Building a company that your customers and investors value takes time. If you’re planning on leaving a job working for “the man”, make sure you take into account the time it takes to start making money – and consider hanging on to that job until the success of your own company makes it impossible for you to work on anything else but your own business.“Use your day job to fund your dream job.” Click & Tweet!
REASON #2 – They Don’t Take the Time to Know/Understand Their Customers
This trips up a lot of entrepreneurs. You may think you know your customers, but in today’s world of smaller and smaller segmented audiences, you need to take the time to do the research to really create a picture of the customers you serve.
The best way to develop a useful profile of your customers is to create Buyer Personas.
A Buyer Persona is the fictional depiction of your ideal customer. But it’s more than just age, gender and marital status. Buyer Personas go deep into understanding the day-to-day life, aspirations and fears, objections and more.
When you’ve created your Buyer Personas, and you use it to “go deep” into understanding your customers, you save money on advertising (because you’re targeting the right people) and you increase your conversion rates (because you’re “speaking their language”).
REASON #3 – They Act Like An Employee and Not Like An Employee AND a Boss
It can be tough for someone that’s been working for someone else for years to transition to the life of an entrepreneur. When you work for a company, you may be part of a team – or you may have defined tasks that you need to execute as part of your job. It’s easy to get “stuck” in a pattern of reacting versus being proactive.
But, when you’re a solopreneur, you’re not just a boss that can kick back and put your feet up on the desk while someone else does the work. You ARE that “someone else” too.Solopreneurs are the Boss AND the Employee. Click & Tweet!
So if you find that your business isn’t moving forward as quickly as you would like it to—look in the mirror and ask yourself as you would ask your employee, “Are you doing the work necessary to make your company successful?” “Are you an engaged, productive ’employee’, eager to come to work and make the company a success?”
If your answer to those questions include “it’s a good thing I’m not working for someone else, I would be fired by now”, then dust off your resume, you’re not going to be a successful entrepreneur.
REASON #4 – They Lack a Mentor or Accountability Group
A solopreneur’s life can be challenging. By definition you’re on your own—at least in your company—but that doesn’t mean you have to push yourself forward by yourself.
Great entrepreneurs know that in order to succeed they need to enlist a variety of talents and insights to move them forward. Sometimes they work directly with a mentor, other times they might find that a group serves their needs better.
Mentors typically help you with a specific challenge you may be facing in your company or your own professional development. Perhaps you hire a mentor to help you improve your sales techniques, or develop your networking skills. Typically you hire a mentor for a specific challenge, and then when you’re ready to move on, you find a different mentor to help you with another expansion of your skills.
When you work with a group (and a group could be a paid membership or a group of solopreneurs that complement each other) you don’t necessarily change groups when a challenge is overcome. A group is designed to be more fluid—giving and receiving help when it’s needed.
I’m a big fan of Accountability Groups (a Solopreneur’s Best Friend)—which work to move its members forward through frequent targeted meetings in which each member shares their tasks to be accomplished before the next meeting. Then, the group holds each other accountable to their “promises”. It’s a powerful psychological technique – especially if you’re prone to “cutting yourself some slack” when you miss deadlines or don’t hit targeted revenue goals.
REASON #5 – They’re Living the Lifestyle Before the Success
If you’ve gotten into business for yourself based on the promise of the “laptop lifestyle”, then be careful of this trap. Many of the gurus promising plenty of hours to yourself, world travel and passive income rarely talk about the years of hard work they put in before “living the dream”.
If you’re starting your own business so that you can gain money, freedom and time, make sure you don’t live the lifestyle at the expense of your company. Success comes with time – and a lot of hard work. Use your time wisely – create the plans you need to succeed—Content Plans, Marketing Plans, Business Plans—and use these plans to keep yourself on track to success.
So if you’re a solopreneur just starting out, or you’ve been on your own for a while, be careful as you move forward and watch out for the pitfalls that could take you off your road to success.