Solopreneuers are on the rise. With 20 percent of the workforce predicted to be freelance by 2020, and more people opening their own business than ever before, it's safe to say this trend isn't going away any time soon. And while there are huge benefits to being a solopreneur, there are also some downsides that come with it. Especially the isolation, lack of stimulation, accountability and push for perfection. Here are five hacks that solopreneurs should incorporate into their routine to up their game, stay focused and stay on top.
To Stay Inspired
Create and honor creative rituals, and indulge in them before you get stuck into your to-do list. That's right, before you plunge right into your pressing task list, take some time to think big, think creative and think inspired. Start your day by reading some creative fiction, an interview with your favorite entrepreneur, a roundup of unusual innovations, or a trawl through Instagram of your favorite designers. The point here is to start in an expansive state of mind, and start the day in the realm of possibility, not panic. Experiment with a ritual until you hone in on one that you can commit to; and then honor it every morning, before your working day begins. It's worth noting that making sure you take proper holidays will also help keep you inspired and avoid burnout. You're not useful to your business if you wear yourself into the ground, so be sure to take proper time out to reset and refresh your mind.
To Stay Accountable
Setting goals is a critical skill that is rarely taught, rewarded or encouraged. Yet as a solopreneur, you need a way to track progress and measure success. Not only does this help streamline your efforts, the achievement that comes from achieving a goal helps keep you motivated and on track. A good goal is often defined as SMART - specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. And there are plenty of apps to help keep you on track, if a trusty notepad and paper isn't your thing. Alternatively, find an accountability partner and share your weekly to do list, via email, every Monday. You'll be amazed at how easy it is to rise to the occasion when you've outwardly committed to getting things done.
Tools: Goal tracking apps like Strides, project management tools like Trello and even the Kill News Feed plug-in (that stops Facebook distracting you) or Chrome's Momentum extension (that makes you focus on one task)
To Stay Sharp
It's of utmost important to keep expanding your mind, learning new tricks and tools and pushing your boundaries. It's easy to de-prioritize learning and development when you're in charge; especially when you have competing priorities and a mounting to-do list. However, learning and growth are key. Overall, there are two ways to approach learning. The first involves focusing on topics that you are specifically struggling with, and getting a grip on the fundamentals. Start by identifying areas you find cumbersome and searching specifically for courses to help skill you up in these areas. Your goal should not be to become a maestro in this area; you just need enough diligence and competence to complete tasks with ease. The second types involves taking areas of strength and further advancing your talents. Becoming even stronger in a particular area will allow you to differentiate your business, charge a premium and bulletproof your offer.
To Stay Connected
Join a co-working space or entrepreneur's group at least once a fortnight. Most of these spaces allow day-to-day attendance. They also host a roster of events, which present a great opportunity to both learn some new skills and meet some other solopreneurs in the same boat. Some retail stores are even encouraging people to use their space as a makeshift office, like Lululemon in NYC and TOMS in LA. If you're too remote to meet in person, join online communities like Dreamers & Doers, Quora or even the entrepreneur subgroup on Reddit--or create your own. Whether online or in person, find a community and share stories, battle scars, ideas and resources.
To Stay Sane
Outsourcing is a wonderful thing. It starts by knowing and valuing your time enough to protect it. It's not worth your time learning quickbooks, so outsource your book keeping, it's not worth your time lining up in the post office to mail our press kits, so find a Task Rabbit and it's not worth shuffling design around in powerpoint, find someone a designer. This is not lazy, it's smart. And though there is a cost involved, your time is better spent elsewhere, where you actually bunker down on generating greater profits.