How to surround yourself well when you are a solo entrepreneur?
That’s right, because choosing to carry out your entrepreneurial project as a solo entrepreneur does not mean that you are all on your own 100% of the time ;)
Following our comic strip on the topic “With or without a co-founder”, I received a number of messages from entrepreneurs who had chosen to launch their project without a co-founder, and who were reassured by this choice when reading the comic strip.
However, they also informed me that, despite a conscious and assumed choice of independence, they sometimes felt alone:
- With a feeling of having EVERYTHING on their shoulders and that the success of their business depends solely on them,
- They have the impression of not being understood by their loved ones,
- They have the desire and longing to move forward and do great things, have a significant impact, while at times they feel as though they’re “not big enough” in comparison to these ambitions…
I myself have gone through these moments of doubt, these frequent ups and downs in the entrepreneurial adventure. One day we feel as though nothing could stop us as we’re so carried away by our mission and the love of what we do / how we do it / for whom we do it….. yet the next day we question everything, don’t progress and see ourselves as worthless.
Over the years, I have learned how to surround myself to overcome these ups and downs:
Like any living organism, a (solo) business needs a strong and diverse ecosystem in order to thrive.
>> It’s quite possible to succeed as a solo entrepreneur and have a significant impact and revenues that match your ambitions… as soon as you become aware of the importance of the ecosystem in which you live… in other words, the ecosystem you are building for yourself.
In this new article (with the collaboration of the brilliant Caroline Gaujour, who is precisely part of my entourage ^^), you will discover these 3 ways to surround yourself as a solo entrepreneur.
1st way to surround yourself as a solo entrepreneur: Your clients… and Mentors
If you are like me, you may have embarked on an entrepreneurial adventure with a focus on working with people who are similar to you and who happen to share the same values.
When defining your customer base, you therefore imagined that you would have an impact on people in a similar situation to what you previously experienced (a few steps before you), so as to provide them with your service/product empathically and in line with your values.
And rightfully so, as it’s generally said that “we are our ideal customer”. And having customers you love, whom you respect deeply and with whom you like to share time with, is a wonderful way to surround yourself. It creates a very beautiful energy.
However, relying “only” on the presence of our customers to move forward is the wrong approach. In order to give, we have to first know how to receive. And above all, we must continue to move forward and progress to always have new things to offer and see our impact increase and grow.
My advice: Seek the help of a mentor or coach who has already been where you are today (I tell you all about it right here “Why do I hire a mentor (or coach) EVERY year?”, after having long thought that being accompanied “once at the beginning of my journey” was enough ;) )
2nd way to surround yourself as a solo entrepreneur: Teammates
Solo entrepreneurship does not necessarily mean doing everything by yourself!
Surrounding yourself with teammates to whom you can delegate certain key tasks is essential to lighten your mental workload as an entrepreneur, avoid bearing everything on your shoulders, and improve the quality/speed of tasks that do not fall within your field of expertise.
I can already hear you object: “But I don’t (yet) have the budget to set up a team, I would first need to be able to pay my own self!”.
The good news is: building a team does not necessarily mean hiring employees full-time ;)
With the expansion of individual entrepreneurship, more and more professionals are offering their services in a flexible way, adapted to your needs, and are a lot more accessible than a traditional salary (as well as the social security costs that go with it).
The great advantage of this “flat” (i.e., not pyramidal) mode of collaboration is that the teammates in question work for other entrepreneurs and companies the rest of the time. They gain experience, perspective and are able to communicate good practices that may not have previously occurred to you.
My advice: Take it one step at a time, while respecting the development cycle of your business.
> At the start, when you have no (or just a few) customers: delegate what you DO NOT know how to do. Basically tasks that require a degree of some sort and extensive expertise. You are not going to study law to register your company, or spend months learning how to make a website from A to Z even though you will never use these skills again once your one and only website is created ^^
> When you have a few clients and want to achieve financial sustainability: continue to delegate what you DO NOT know how to do, and also start delegating some tasks that are NOT IN YOUR GENIUS ZONE.
Because in order to have more customers & more impact, you need to free up time and focus on what you are best at. By removing “rotation” tasks (posting on social networks, designing the layout of a blog article, sending a customer invoice, etc…) from your to-do list, you will be able to concentrate your time and energy on growing your business, until it eventually becomes profitable.
> Once your business is profitable: in addition to what you already delegate, add EXTRA-ORDINARY skills to upgrade your business and extend your impact even more… without having to “work harder”.
This can be hiring an illustrator for your blog (as I do here ;)), a translator to reach more countries (as I do too!), provide complementary service partners with your products/services, collaborate with colleagues to organize a retreat / annual event / book… in short, extend your impact in a more ambitious way :)
3rd way to surround yourself as a solo entrepreneur: Colleagues
And yes, since starting out as an entrepreneur, goodbye coffee machine breaks or colleague lunches.
Whether you have good or bad memories associated with these moments as a former employee, do know that being able to talk casually about your work with people who understand you / have the same vocabulary is essential! This allows the brain to digest a lot of information, take a step back and maintain a positive state of mind.
Once again, the good news is that you don’t necessarily need to have a team of employees around you to have colleagues! I would even go further by adding that your collaborators (whether freelancers or not) are not exactly in the same boat as you….
My advice: build a small network of ENTREPRENEURS who go through a similar experience and with whom you can exchange on a regular basis.
It can take many forms (a small Facebook group of people you’ve met during a training/ mentoring session – it’s actually one of the bonuses I offer my own clients and which happens to be very popular! – weekly or monthly lunches with a group of entrepreneurial friends, taking part in trips and retreats for entrepreneurs, and so forth).
Whatever option you choose, do not underestimate its impact!
We rarely see successful entrepreneurs that are only surrounded by bitter and septic employees.
After all, “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with” (Jim Rohn), so surround yourself with people who are in the same state of mind as you, and whose project is (roughly) at the same level of development as yours ;)
Ideal clients, mentors to help you move forward, teammates to avoid having to bear everything on your shoulders and “colleagues” with whom to share your journey… That’s quite some precious company to surround yourself with as a solo entrepreneur!
Solène is the Chief Empowerment Officer of Creators for Good.
She developed a methodology that allows Global Citizen to start and grow their own impactful businesses from anywhere in the world – and with no need for investors or government support.