I have been running my business solo for years and, soon, decades. The problem for many of us is that when we stop, the money stops. The more solopreneurs, side hustlers and gig economers (all different, mind you), the more of us are classified as burnt out. It's not a coincidence.
Here's a fact, though: Your solo business probably isn't as precious as you think. You can transfer your skills, create products or services beyond you, and create a real legacy well past your exit - physically or otherwise.
It is possible, even if you are by yourself. Here's where you can start.
Create systems that work while you sleep
You should automate as much as possible so you can dedicate to the stuff that matters. For example, I use Buffer, Meet Edgar and other platforms to share my social media.
There are three advantages:
- I don't have to spend minutes every day crafting the perfect social media message
- I don't have to hop on social media multiple times a day and risk spending hours getting distracted
- I don't have to worry about my message getting out when I'm resting, eating, sleeping, or otherwise living
On the succession front, the social media will continue to go out well after I'm gone. It builds on itself. And my time now is spent doing coaching, keynotes and other one-on-one work where I make the biggest impact.
Build things that last beyond you
As I've said in previous columns, we can be blind to how much of an impact we can make while still preserving our "special sauce":
If your goal is to move the cultural needle, elevate others with your insight and build a lasting legacy, then you have to share what you've got. Gary Vaynerchuk, Elon Musk and other entrepreneurs reveal all their stuff. In fact, they are already legendary because they reveal all their stuff. Their hyper-public personas are controversial, but their cultural mark will remain well after they or their companies come to pass.
You don't have to put your private-company revenue on display or give people the exact formula to your Coke recipe. What you can do, though, is build a dialog that continues after you leave.
For instance, Richard Branson has regular entrepreneur retreats on Necker Island. Is he giving the schematics to his next brand strategy? Probably not. He is sharing the secrets, though, and being gracious with his knowledge. He's also building a legacy, not only of the entrepreneurs that he's impacting, but also in creating a pipeline of people whom he may work with in the future.
Know what is not duplicable
As a solopreneur, you actually have a bigger advantage than the Sir Bransons and the Elon Musks: You have a special experience that turned you into a solopreneur in the first place.
In my case, I know only a few other solopreneurs who successfully built, ran and sold a company while being the primary caretaker of their first baby. I know many of them personally. And I can write 500 books, do 5,000 keynotes and make 50,000 Inc. columns about the experience, but people will still come to me to be coached, to have a personalized keynote or to create a consulting opportunity because my journey cannot be duplicated.
You need not fear giving away the shop, as your most precious knowledge is not duplicable.
So, give away all you can. Best case scenario, you give an insight that goes well beyond your years. Worst case scenario, you will inspire another person to do the same.