Solopreneur characteristics are essential to notice. These characteristics, which we have mentioned below, can lead you firmly in the direction of success. Research has consistently shown us the qualities that successful solopreneurs have. It makes sense to know what these are so you can tweak your traits to work for you and not against you. You don’t need to have all of these characteristics, and neither do you need to have them in spades. If you can score on at least 70%-80% of these attributes, you have a great chance at satisfying success. To be among the six-figure solopreneurs, see if you have what they do.
- Passion for work and joy in the pursuit of niche leadership
- Persistence and determination despite delays and gestation
- Versatility and continuous upgrade in a range of skills
- Creativity and innovation given importance in all your decisions
- Technological savvy to handle basic back-end issues yourself
- Personal confidence that enables risk-taking with firm courage
- Accountability to all your stakeholders (including yourself)
- Resourcefulness in the face of low resources and tight budgets
- Organized systems to get the most productivity from working
- Extroversion and introversion, both balanced to the right degree
- Equal ease with both business strategy and implementation
- Humility after mistakes with remarkable bounce-back ability
- Financial knowledge with canny ROI-led calculativeness
- Marketing smarts with a strong talent for salesmanship
- Communication skills that power your writings and videos
- Negotation skills usable in handling clients and vendors
- Future-facing personality with an eye on the horizon
- Grand optimism melded with practical immediate realism
VIDEO: Star Khechara’s inimitable video about “The 5 qualities of 6-figure solopreneurs” (Must watch: 7:21 minutes)
Star honestly admits, “I’m no psychologist, but there are certain characteristics or personality traits that seem to be present in every single successful entrepreneur I’ve met.” Among the tips she hands out are these: you’ve got to love what you do; develop an eye for detail and quality; aim for a finish line that never gets crossed; plan to be of service; keep up epic self-motivation.
1. Passion for work and joy in the pursuit of niche leadership
Every solopreneur wanting to start a business must have doubtless read many articles online titled “Make your niche in an area of deep passion”. As a result, many solopreneurs also get stymied at this point. “What is my area of deep passion?” they ask themselves and come up with no answers.
People don’t have deep passions until they get into a subject, learn more about it, and enjoy its nuances. What you may have at the beginning is some interest in the topic, good enough to begin a business. You know something about the subject and can at least start writing about it to get your first few blog posts going.
When you then start tasting small success in your work, your passion for it develops and evolves. You may write a great blog post that gets a lot of traffic. Boom! Your passion foes up several notches. Then you may write an ebook or course and manage to sell it to quite a few people. Boom again! Your passion is now deeply kindled. You know and have faith you can make it in this niche.
Instead of making “deep passion” a criterion for starting a business, it’s better to consider competitive motivation. “I must become a thought-leader in the niche where I now have a small bit of interest to start!” you have to say to yourself. Competitiveness makes you channel your initial enthusiasm till a few small successes can start to build deep passion.
2. Persistence and determination despite delays and gestation
Despite hundreds of wannabe solopreneurs scouring Google every day for the search term “make money fast”, there is no online business that can ever deliver immediately. Not only is this “get rich quick” idea silly to pursue, but it also distracts you from looking at what helps you make a lot of money with an online business.
The only statement that will always be true is this: “Persistence pays”. In fact, “persistence” and its cousin “determination” are the two concepts that help people make millions. To give you a simple analogy, let’s assume you’re riding a bicycle. Now, see how the first few times you pedal, you have to be determined to put a lot of energy into it while seeing little movement. But soon, “traction and momentum” start gaining. At that stage, you can afford to slacken on the force with which you pedal, and with just a mild application of leg pressure, the bicycle cruises on.
Everything in life worth having has a gestation period when some determination and persistence are necessary for traction to happen. After traction sets in, you can afford to slacken. It would help if you slacked because pushing too hard will hamper the natural increase of the traction. Try pedaling hard after a bicycle is already cruising. See how your pushing works against the bicycle’s smooth movement.
Successful solopreneurs learn to use this concept in their businesses. They know how to push hard initially using the natural enthusiasm and energy that a new business brings. They keep up the persistence and determination and then ease off knowing things are moving. Business is tough in the beginning, but it won’t always be so.
3. Versatility and continuous upgrade in a range of skills
Solopreneurs do wear a lot of hats in their business. When you plan to be a solopreneur, you know that you have some decent skills in many business areas, which gives you the confidence to proceed with your startup.
In solopreneurship, being a Jack-Of-All-Trades is much better than being a specialist in just finance or marketing or one of the business functions. The more versatile your skills, the less you have to spend on outsourced help and the more profitable your business.
Whatever starting skills you have, you also have to upgrade these continuously. Every area of online business has nuances that only deep knowledge can satisfy. You have to continue to be versatile while gaining depth in all the functions you handle in business as a single person.
One of the best traits to learn from highly successful solopreneurs is to engage in vast amounts of reading. Subscribe to the newsletters of the best-in-class sites in all the business disciplines you have to handle. Set apart time to catch up with all the latest goings-on in the online business world. It’s called “sharpening the saw”. You create a separate time daily, as a carpenter would, to sharpen the skills which enable you to make a living.
4. Creativity and innovation given importance in all your decisions
Solopreneurs often plan to include a lot of creativity and innovation in their work. But they don’t clearly understand how to make this happen. The successful ones, however, do understand this concept very well.
Creativity and innovation should not be reserved just for the “big ideas” at work. You may think, “How can I innovate and create a product no one has created before? Or “How can I make this article or blog post a tad more creative?” This kind of creativity and innovation does happen occasionally. But you can’t always beckon “great new ideas” at the drop of a hat. Instead, you have to see that every little decision of yours that you make every hour every day has room for creativity and innovation in it.
For example, you may be monitoring your performance metrics and find a few areas where your site isn’t performing well. “Are there any ways to increase the numbers here?” you may ask yourself. Answers – some hackneyed ones and some new ones – will come when you focus on the question. Take the new ideas to see how they can change things for you.
In another example, you may be looking for a way to contact a new client prospect without raising his suspicions. “How do I make a subtle approach?” you may ask yourself. Again a new answer may come to you that you never thought of before. You have to throw open-ended questions at everything you handle and give room for creative and innovative solutions to come to mind. Action them to leapfrog into a new level of business.
5. Technological savvy to handle basic back-end issues yourself
If you work in an online business, you cannot afford to stay “terribly technologically challenged”. You have to learn enough about HTML, CSS, PHP, and some back-end server-and-connectivity-related issues so that your site doesn’t have to wait for a technician for 24 hours to clear site glitches.
The essential thing to do is ensure you always have a backup of your site and all our site-related files. Your web hosting company will always make some daily backups of your site (say, for one prior week). In addition, you have to make a backup of all the files you are working with on your laptop. Use an additional hard drive as a backup reservoir to keep everything you need from your computer.
These days it’s also critical to know how to make your site mobile-responsive. More people now use their mobiles to read blogs and sites than they use laptops. To port your site on mobile, you have to know how to use some plugins and do some CSS tweaks. It costs a bomb to get professional help from technical people – but the good news is that there are so many forums online where excellent coders and programmers offer free advice and even code snippets.
People know that technology is demanding, but they’ll never buy that as an excuse for a sloppy site that breaks all the time.
6. Personal confidence that enables risk-taking with firm courage
One characteristic separates successful solopreneurs from the rest. It’s ‘confidence”. Where does confidence come from? It comes to us in two ways: one, from how much we read and know about our subject; and two, from “trial-and-error experience.
If you are eternally afraid of making mistakes, your confidence will take a beating. You have set goals to climb mountains, and then when you scale them, you add to your faith in yourself. Sure, you can set yourself small goals and try to achieve them, but confidence grows with the size of your successes. So aim high. There is no other shortcut.
At the same time, it’s not just enough to set audacious goals. You have to plan and strategize to scale them. In your systematic planning, experimentation, review of results, and re-setting of objectives, a whole world of confidence grows. You learn that you can not only achieve when the going is good, but you can also achieve in the face of setbacks.
Successful solopreneurs never balk from risk-taking, but they are calculative in assessing their risks and know they have a Plan A and a Plan B to mitigate those risks. Without courage, you cannot take intelligent risks. And without intelligent risks, you can’t put your knowledge into action and gain the confidence you can handle things.
7. Accountability to all your stakeholders (including yourself)
What is “accountability?” It is the characteristic that all successful solopreneurs possess. It is the reliability you display in keeping your word. It may be the word you’ve given to others or the promises you’ve made to yourself. When working without a boss above you, there will be no one who can demand your accountability but yourself.
Accountability helps other people who deal with you stay 100% sure you will come through, come what may. You will not be trundling out excuses for non-achievement.
Accountability to your customers is easier than accountability to yourself. When clients or customers who pay you have the power to punish you for the absence of accountability, fear may make you do things you otherwise may not. But fear doesn’t work on yourself. That’s why when you have to hold yourself accountable, you have to do so because of motivation and determination.
Invariably there is a short-term gain and a long-term loss when you fail to be accountable to yourself. You may say, “I can push this blog post I had to finish today to some later time.” But think of the consequences. Is the short-term gain from that spot of postponement worth the long-term loss of discipline and achievement? Will that one postponement lead you to more and more such laxity, thus changing our trajectory away from success? Accountability is always about sacrificing short-term gain and working for long-term success.
8. Resourcefulness in the face of low resources and tight budgets
If you’ve seen how successful solopreneurs handle money, they usually are meticulous about every cent they spend but not so preoccupied with every dollar they earn. They won’t get fixated on fast income; they’d instead concentrate on being frugal with their expenses.
The exact opposite happens with the less successful solopreneurs. They are so eager to make money quickly that they throw good money at useless apps, tools, and books, hoping that spending more will beget more earnings at speed.
Frugality – or being tight-fisted – is seen in the modern world as an old-fashioned way of thinking. But successful people don’t mind being called old-fashioned if that gets them to the finish line profitably. When your resources are low (for example, when you are starting in business), you have to be more resourceful. You have to think of intelligent ways to get what you want without cost to earn a profit.
Budgeting is another much-bandied word that many entrepreneurs like to use, but you have to understand that a budget on paper always looks good. It’s when you have to act on that budget, taking all its constraints in your stride, that your mettle will get tested. To be successful, watch the cents – and the dollars will take care of themselves.
9. Organized systems to get the most productivity from working
There are two things all solopreneurs aiming at success must do. The first is to learn to form habits out of actions they have to do every day. The second is to string habitual actions into systems whereby all actions flow like clear work chains.
To convert tasks into habits, repetition and very tight discipline will be needed in the beginning. But soon, you will find that if you repeat the same tasks every day over a length of time, you will create a habit that you needn’t work so hard on mentally. You will grow into the routine.
After you have focused on converting tasks into habits, look at your workflows. Workflows are the patterns of work you do and sequences of your actions. See if you can remove unwanted tasks from your workflows to make room for essential steps. Doing the workflows in the same order every time makes it a system.
Let’s take an example. Let’s say you have to spend some time catching up with research and trends in your niche every day. First, decide what resources to read to get the most value from your time. Then focus on a standard procedure of going through these resources one by one in the same order every day. This method is how routines of high value get built.
10. Extroversion and introversion, both balanced to the right degree
If you are the type who makes friends quickly, then solopreneurship will work well for you. You will be able to connect with others, attend networking events, and interact with potential clients or customers. However, you may face challenges due to the loneliness of the solopreneur life. To overcome this, you may be better off working in a coffee shop or co-working space, at least on some days.
If you’re an introvert by nature, that too can still work in your favor. You’ll have no problem spending long hours alone in your home office. But to tackle the challenges of networking, you may have to make an extra effort to at least show up on social media or at events. Showing up will lead to conversations in which you can listen more and talk less if it helps.
Ideally, whatever is your strong suit – extroversion or introversion – you may have to learn how to become a little more of the other type. There has to some balance between being extrovert or introvert if you want to succeed.
It doesn’t have to be a 50-50 balance, though. You can try for a 60-40 balance or even an 80-20 type of balance. A little extra effort will be needed to counterbalance your natural traits with the traits that will help you succeed. Some of these traits may not come naturally, but you still have to cultivate them.
11. Equal ease with both business strategy and implementation
The definition of strategy is “a plan of action towards gaining some specific results”. To be successful in business, you need to set goals and then devise a plan of action to achieve them. But it’s not enough for a solopreneur to merely plan because no one else in the team will implement that plan. So the solopreneur has to be good at both – the planning and the implementation.
The strategy has to be feasible and achievable. Plans have to be realistic, knowing the fact that you are going to implement them single-handedly. When you complete your strategy development process and are ready to implement, there will often be an itch to keep tweaking strategy – because that feels easier than doing the implementation.
These are the kinds of challenges you need to anticipate. Set apart a separate period for planning, get into the details, rehearse all the actions you have to take mentally, and then get your hands off the plan and get into action mode.
Strategies do need review but not too often. You have to give any plan some time to show results. So focus on the implementation and then set periodicities (maybe once a quarter) to revisit your strategies. See if they are the best for you for the future or need some amending.
12. Humility after mistakes with remarkable bounce-back ability
Mistakes and setbacks are par for the course in any business. If they happen in a big company, though, people will always turn around to see who will take the blame. In a solopreneur business, you cannot have that luxury. If you must pin the blame on someone, it will be you.
That’s why it’s counterproductive to look at mistakes and setbacks as negatives. Instead, see if these can become positive experiences you can learn from. You must first have humility in the face of tough times. You have to be able to say, “Okay, so it’s happened this way.
It’s not good, but it’s not bad either. What can I now learn from this that I should not repeat?”
Once you’ve got your learnings from the occurrence, redraft your plans for a better-than-before bounce-back. To be able to recover spectacularly from any setback is called “resilience”.
Like a rubber ball bounced hard off the ground, you have to be able to spring back to rise higher with the momentum. Negatives have a way of propelling you faster towards success. Don’t let them cow you down. Make them work for you.
13. Financial knowledge with canny ROI-led calculativeness
When I started a business, I knew everything – creative, production, marketing – but not finance. I approached some financial advisors to seek more knowledge. But to my utter consternation, no two of them gave the same advice. The world of finance is strange if you’re a newbie solopreneur. I made up my mind to learn enough about business finance not to be so dependent on consultants.
If there was one big lesson I learned after poring over blogs and books on setting up my business finances, it was this. Everything you spend that cannot earn more money for you has to be viewed with a questioning eye. It is a burden on your business. It is an “expense”. Whereas, everything you spend on that can earn you more money than you began with is an “investment”.
This kind of ROI (Return on Investment) method of planning finances will stand you in excellent stead. You will only buy tools or hire help if you can calculate precisely how much and how soon you will make that money back by selling products they help create. You shouldn’t be just getting back what you spent either. Whatever you make over and above that is the real “profit”.
It may seem silly to some solopreneurs that they have to be calculative to such an extent on every stupid little expense. But see what a difference it makes to your business if only you cultivate this method of ROI-driven spending. If spending money returns more than it takes away from you, your money is working for you. If not, you are indulging in a hobby and not a business.
14. Marketing smarts with a strong talent for salesmanship
I know many solopreneurs think that marketing and sales are the most challenging task of all in an online business. They look around them to find successful solopreneurs are the ones that have mastered marketing and sales.
Lose the fear and first get to know what “marketing” really is. It is the method to promote yourself, your brand, or your products by repeatedly disseminating your one simple promotional message in many ways using different formats available to you online. The idea is that your presence must be there wherever people look, but your message has to be one message and a simple one.
What message must that be? It has to be the simple message of “how your product can solve your main customer’s pain-point”. Let’s say you are in the fitness niche teaching yoga for back problems. Your main message must be a positive-outcome message to your customer: “Get rid of that back problem for good and engage in active life in freedom. My yoga can do it for you.” Now send that message out via a spate of blog posts, an email sequence, through social media, through infographics, through YouTube videos, through podcasts, Be relentless.
Marketing must lead to “sales”. If someone shows an interest in your product, you should be able to give them a few more convincing arguments to clinch the deal – or you could offer a price incentive to make them jump off the fence to buy your product.
15. Communication skills that power your writings and videos
Solopreneurs have to write a lot. At the very least, they have to blog every day. They have to write emails. They have to post social updates in long-and-short-form messages. They may also have to author ebooks or create courses to sell via eCommerce. They have to write outreach letters to other bloggers.
Over and above all this, some solopreneurs may also like to venture into YouTube videos and podcasts. Or they may want to take up speaking engagements. All this naturally demands exceptional communication skills. What does the skill of communication entail?
Great communicators can engage their audiences with their words and make people want to pay attention. Attention is a scarce and precious thing online, with people tired from reading and hearing too much. To capture people’s attention and get them engrossed in what you have to say is both a science and an art. It helps to be brief, authentic, natural, and friendly. It helps to show empathy for your audience.
There is a secret to becoming a great communicator. All you need is excellent listening skills. People love to talk about their issues, their preoccupations, and their problems. By listening to them sincerely and a lot, you get into their shoes, feel their pains, and are in a position to give them comfort advice. That’s all people ask when you communicate. They will provide you their attention wholesale if you are sharing your point about their problems.
16. Negotation skills usable in handling clients and vendors
As successful solopreneurs know, you can never come across someone else whose views are identical to your own. Sometimes you have to do business with clients or vendors, where you both have conflicting views; therefore, the stalemate in the relationship. You need excellent negotiating skills so that both of you sacrifice a little from your stated positions and try to get a win-win to make the relationship work.
Some factors help with negotiation. First, build a strong bonding with the other person in areas where you are in unison and have no difference of opinion. Then use pleasant language to go over the point of contention. Make it clear you understand the other person’s point of view, although yours is different. Both of you can then start thinking of ideas to bridge the divide.
Make it an open-ended brainstorming session rather than an opportunity for hardening positions. See what you can sacrifice and what the other person is willing to sacrifice to make a win-win out of the situation. When both of you are comfortable with the small sacrifices you have to make to get the bigger prizes available from a good relationship, you have both succeeded.
Negotiation is just the art of recognizing that small giveaways can produce more significant gifts for both people in the end.
17. Future-facing personality with an eye on the horizon
Have you noticed that successful solopreneurs are always future-facing? They seldom talk about past events unless someone specifically asks them to dig up old memories. They’d much prefer to be speaking of the “potential” in the future.
Most of the successful solopreneurs are also very clued in to the latest in their field. They are just ahead of their competition in what they know about emerging technologies. They are trend-watchers. They study their audiences’ changing tastes, the new ideas emerging in their niches, and the innovations rising on the horizon.
There is a reason why the future must always be kept in mind in business because it is where you will find the opportunities to progress. As the world changes, new opportunities open up for you. So stay with your eyes peeled to what may happen in the future. Don’t expect future trends to be easy to adapt to. They take some work.
One other thing that helps solopreneurs is that they can build many valuable relationships with other entrepreneurs online who are similarly future-oriented. You will be amongst people who always gung-ho, fresh with ideas, and creativity-minded. It is an energizing company. Try to spend time in the company of those who look forward. Stay away from those with a tendency to lament the past or the present.
18. Grand optimism melded with practical immediate realism
We’ve come to a final point of distinction between successful solopreneurs and others. The solopreneurs who succeed faster are dreamers of distant big goals and realists in their short-term thinking. Having great optimism beckoning you towards tremendous success is very uplifting. But being in a fantasyland in short-term goal-setting can soon lead to non-achievement and despair.
Having a glorious vision for the long-term is a beautiful thing. You must have heard of people who have the BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals). Their long-term goals are usually panoramic and wide-spectrum. But then, when they get down to immediate plans to work with, they are very pragmatic and realistic.
But here’s an important point to note. Many of the achievers don’t equate success with the achievement of that distant glorious goal. Great solopreneurs like to have that shimmering unattainable goal that they can never reach. It acts as the magnet pulling them onward but always recedes as they get closer. The chase of that enigmatic distant fantasy, using very realistic immediate steps, is a game these successful solopreneurs love to play. In the process, they achieve success as a by-product.
By all means, you too must aim to have both – the bold, bright, vast vision of the future with no finish line, and the practical, immediate realistic goals to complete with entire focus. Always remember that you have three eyes. Two eyes must be on the present. The third eye – the mind’s eye – must imagine something huge that acts as your enticement to pull you faster, higher, stronger. Success, as we said before, is an inevitable consequence.
So What Are Your Thoughts? Do Share!
This post is incomplete without your input. The community of solopreneurs would feel galvanized to hear from you … so do share your thoughts on this topic with us, in the comments field below this post.
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