Solopreneur mistakes can be small (and repairable) or large (and disastrous). Many solopreneurs mention branding as one of their areas where they have made big mistakes. Some others mention finance-mismanagemet that led them down, or lack of understanding of customers that did. Some reasons why solopreneurs made mistakes can be downright funny too. But we cannot laught at them, for life in business is fraught with ups-and-downs. As Richard Branson says, he looks at business as successes or “learning opportunities(he never calls them setbacks). May be the biggest mistake-prrofing you can do to your business as a solopreneur is to follow Richard Branson’s example and embrace mistakes as inevitable but valuable growing pains.
- Starting business with a shiny new office and gadgets gobbles cash
- Over-selling yourself and under-delivering to customers is disaster
- Not building relationships for referrals is a very big mistake
- Over-emphasizing on Plan B and underdeveloping Plan A is common
- Not knowing where your money is going will take you to the same place
- Not knowing the difference between gross revenue and profit is costly
- Not committing to one thing and trying to do many things makes you spin
- Thinking that rebranding is the cure for your ills is the wrong way
- Taking too much time off and saying Yes to everything – two extremes
- Spreading yourself too thin and over-estimating your ability is a no-no
- Wearing too many hats you’ll find many that don’t fit you well enough
- Not knowing your customers and not creating enough demand are killers
- Coming across as authentic with your own voice is really hard work
- Continuing with a pre-solopreneur lifestyle and not adjusting is nuts
- Being too casual, doing unprofitable, quitting – avoid the evil three
- The compelling desire to leave no stone unturned can make you a freak
- Creating a product thatâs more advanced than your audience is foolish
- Not knowing about self-employment taxes is no excuse for financial mess
VIDEO: M.P.Sudduth offers tips on “5 Common Mistakes Made by Solopreneurs”(Must watch: 3:47 minutes)
M.P.Sudduth is a small business consultant and success coach. In this video, she goes over five mistakes and lessons for solopreneurs. Key points she covers are outsourcing mistakes, goal-setting errors, lack of persistence and commitment, lack of balance between planning and doing, and not letting go of what is not working. Worth a watch!
1. Starting business with a shiny new office and gadgets gobbles cash
Arman Assadi in the article “7 Biggest Mistakes I’ve Made as a Solopreneur”:
“One of the first big decisions I made when I became a solopreneur was to get an office space. Well, actually, a new friend at a conference offered the space to me. He said heâd only charge me $100 a month for the desk. In San Francisco, thatâs quite a steal, so I took it.
Looking back, I think this is a big mistake. An office space is a luxury, and often an unnecessary expense for a new entrepreneur. In the beginning I didnât look at it that way, but now I know better.
$100 can be invested in the business and go toward generating more revenue (e.g., through Facebook ads). Even better, that money could be set aside for investing into new and existing assets, which could then put off more cash flow. Both of these concepts I didnât understand before.
It didnât stop there. I was the new entrepreneur, living the dream. If I wanted it and found a way to sell myself on its utility, I purchased it. Shiny new equipment, fancy software, and cool toolsâall this is unnecessary overhead. Looking back, my profit margins could have been higher from the beginning. A top priority for every new entrepreneur should be to maximize cash flow.â
2. Over-selling yourself and under-delivering to customers is disaster
Erin Urban in the article “Seven Common Mistakes Startup Solopreneurs Make And How To Avoid Them”:
“When it comes to client experience, this is almost one of the worst failures an entrepreneur can have, but unfortunately, it’s also very common. You can do everything else right, but creating client disappointment not only can damage your credibility, but it also can hurt your self esteem.
Overselling usually happens when you, the entrepreneur, suffer from the illusion that you have more time, energy and resources than you actually have. If anything, you’re better off under promising and over delivering.
Disappointed customers aren’t likely to recommend you. If you want to grow and establish a business that lasts, donât oversell yourself.”
3. Not building relationships for referrals is a very big mistake
Christopher Connors in the article “Five Major Mistakes To Avoid When Starting Out As A Solopreneur”:
“AS a solopreneur youâll also want to avoid burning bridges. Some of the people that will make you the most money in your career are fellow entrepreneurs you may already know. Theyâre the freelancers that have your back in the beginning, supporting you through the lean times. Theyâre the first customers that become referrals and share the word of your product. This is about networking with fellow solopreneurs you can learn from and share skills with.
From relationships come opportunities to grow, learn, and even profit. Iâve gained clients that were previously friends who turned to me when they had a leadership need for themselves or their organization. Relationships Iâve built have led to referral business and also awareness, which has been shared with colleagues and friends in other organizations.
You want to be the top-of-mind service provider or product offering when people think of your niche, so maintaining relationships is extremely important.”
4. Over-emphasizing on Plan B and underdeveloping Plan A is common
Damon Brown in the article “The Biggest Mistake Solopreneurs Make (and 3 Ways to Avoid It)”:
“There is one common problem that sinks up-and-coming solopreneurs: An over-emphasis on Plan B and an underdeveloped Plan A. Solopreneurs often do not put systems in place for long-term success and, if they do have a short-term win, they are often ill-equipped to capitalize on it.
My biggest venture into solopreneurship, with two fellow solopreneurs, was launching the 2014 meet-for-hugs app Cuddlr. The app was an immediate hit, going to #1 on app stores around the world and getting more than 100,000 users in the first week.
We did not expect the volume of users nor the amount of press (we would be featured on the major late-night and early-morning talk shows and, later, in the New York Times and the front page of the Wall Street Journal). Fortunately, we did have a strategy – albeit based on much smaller success! – and were able to modify it through our eventual acquisition the following summer.
If we did not have any long-term strategy for success, then our team would have fallen apart at the first sign of incredible growth. In doing talks and in coaching up-and-coming solopreneurs, I find this same contradiction: We say we want remarkable success, but are woefully unprepared to receive it.”
5. Not knowing where your money is going will take you to the same place
Rachel Ritlop in the article “7 Of The Biggest Mistakes I See New Solopreneurs Make”:
“When I ask most new solopreneurs I speak with about their finances, they excitedly respond, âOh! I set up a spread sheet to track my spending!â And do you know what happens to that spread sheet in a few months? Nothing. It becomes something else they’ve done in âpreparationâ of their business, but never actually use.
Instead, adopt a system like Quickbooks right out of the gate. Quickbooks allows you to link your accounts and pulls in all of your transactions. This way it’s a matter of snapping a picture of your receipt and spending a few minutes each week simply categorizing your expenses and verifying them versus trying to pull them from all over the place and saving the copies of your receipts just to figure out your income vs. expenses.
LBH, if it’s not an easy system, you’re going to quickly abandon it and before you know it, you have no idea where money is going in your business.”
6. Not knowing the difference between gross revenue and profit is costly
Tim Beyers in the article “My Biggest Mistake as a Solopreneur – And What I Learned From It”:
“In my enthusiasm to be independent, I got stuck on the number that counts least when you’re a solopreneur: sales.
Gross revenue is a fiction for a business owner. Only after subtracting crucial expenses such as utilities (e.g., telephone, internet, rent) and benefits (e.g., healthcare) and setting aside half for taxes do you get close to your take-home total. And that’s assuming you don’t also set aside some portion of earnings as savings for emergencies or retirement.
As you might guess, I did exactly none of these things in my early days as a business owner.
Instead, thrilled by my earnings, I spent. And spent, and spent and spent, taking on unnecessary levels of debt in the process. The ensuing interest has taken a bite of my earnings every year since.”
7. Not committing to one thing and trying to do many things makes you spin
Sarah Kat in the article “My 6 Worst Mistakes as a Solo Entrepreneur”:
“Iâm a classic scanner personality, as first described by career counselor and author Barbara Sher.
Now that Iâm a bit older and wiser Iâm getting to grips with the battle in my brain between wanting to start all the projects at once, and knowing how fruitless that would be.
But I didnât have as much self control early on. The newfound freedom of going it alone turned me into something of a project wrecking ball, getting all hyped up and flying in, then swinging right through to the other side.
Tip â Commit to one project at a time. This is your best chance of finishing something you started and having success with it. Keep your other 101 ideas on a cork board or calendar for later.”
8. Thinking that rebranding is the cure for your ills is the wrong way
Tonia Kendrick in the article “10 Common Branding Mistakes That Solopreneurs Make”:
“When things arenât going as well as youâd like, itâs easy to feel like rebranding is the answer. However, more often than not, one-man businesses are too quick to rebrand â without thinking about how to bring their current brand up to speed instead.
Rebranding is okay, but be cautious and go slow. Youâll need to have a smooth transition process away from your existing branding strategy. Plan out a new strategy before you execute it, and ask yourself: Will this new look, feel, and voice of your brand help you to obtain new customers, or will only alienate the ones you already have?
As rebranding can take a while for your customers to get used to, make sure the benefits outweigh the costs. Keep customers updated on any changes, and engage with them throughout the process to show them they still matter.”
9. Taking too much time off and saying Yes to everything – two extremes
Jordan Gross in the article “The Top 10 Mistakes Iâve Made in My First Two Years as a Solopreneur”:
“I took too many off days. I remember the 2018 World Cup was being played in my first few months on my own. I figured because I was on my schedule, I could watch a few games, and make up the time another day. But that didnât happen. I kept taking off and then not making up the time. I convinced myself that I was watching for enjoyment, and enjoyment was part of my core values. It was all hogwash.
I am not one to promote no off days. I value sleep, and I value resetting and recharging. But I know that too many of these days piled up on top of one another will lead to inefficiency and a lack of output. That is exactly how I felt.
To counterbalance the time off, I said yes to everything. I promised myself that I was going to be a yes man. There was nothing unrelated to my future pursuits. There was nothing I wouldnât be willing to learn or talk about with others. At first, this was cool. I had conversations and learned about things that I never thought I would. Cryptocurrency, construction businesses, real estate investing. But after a little bit, saying yes to things that didnât relate to my journey started to block time I could be spending doing other things.
Being a yes person is fun and exciting. You certainly do get to learn, and you have many stories to tell. But saying yes to absolutely everything gets exhausting very quickly. When you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one, especially yourself.”
10. Spreading yourself too thin and over-estimating your ability is a no-no
Patricia Frame in the article “Mistakes of a Solopreneur”:
“Like far too many consultants, coaches, and freelancers, I started out ready to do almost anything in HR a client might want. And thought I could run my small business entirely on my own too. But there are aspects of HR which I do not enjoy. And there are needs which clients have but which would require expensive investments in software and survey data for me to do.
Donât ask how long it took me to start referring potential clients to others for affirmative action plans or survey intensive work.
Plus surely I could learn all I needed to run my business with all the modern software, systems, and such â presentation graphics, IT, book-keeping, etc. It was only when I wanted a website that I really hired help. Donât ask me how many virtual assistants I knew/met before I actually hired one myself.
Take a clear look at your value. You and only you can sell yourself and do the actual work you want to build your business on. In the beginning it is hard to convince yourself to spend money on othersâ services. It is easy when you are not busy with clients to think you can fit in all the other aspects of your business that need to be done. Then you get busy and it all stops. Or you hit a problem you cannot fix and it is always at the wrong time. No computer ever fails on a âgood dayâ, they all fail on deadline or at the start of a big engagement when you are already slammed.”
11. Wearing too many hats you’ll find many that don’t fit you well enough
Carol Roth in the article “Entrepreneurs: The Biggest Challenges Facing Solopreneurs”:
“The biggest challenge for me is balancing between focus and doing everything myself. As a “soloprenuer” I tend to do all aspects of my business myself, rather than outsourcing them, however, then I have trouble focusing on projects and completing them because I am doing too many things at once.
I was forced to start using a simple chart & kitchen timer to organize and structure my day better – my next step will be to figure out what to have outsourced. For me, it is an ongoing work-in-progress!
Solopreneurs may find themselves trying to wear all of the company hats: marketing, accounting, web designer and service provider. But creatives aren’t always good at keeping books and financial advisors might not be very good at marketing. Hats can become a major challenge!
Bartering or trades can work, especially for start-ups. Outsourcing should be considered later on. Just don’t let a “hat” hold you back…because it can…and will. Find a way to hand off that hat to someone who wears it well.
12. Not knowing your customers and not creating enough demand are killers
Michelle Baker in the article “Five Painful Solopreneur Business Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them”:
“Many people who try to do it alone are doing so because working with people exhausts them. The sober fact is the market is comprised of people. If you do not get your market interested in what you are selling, they will not buy it.
Spend some time getting to know the people in your market. They will be the ones buying your product or service. Catalin Zorzini identifies long-term relationships as a key factor in the highest grossing companiesâ marketing model.
Apple tries to make its customers have an adoring desire to purchase every new product they produce. Make your market interested in whatever you are offering.
There are many other mistakes that a solopreneur can make. But thankfully, there is a lot of literature out there from people who have come before you.”
13. Coming across as authentic with your own voice is hard work
Dre Beltrami in the article “10 Brand Building Mistakes: You Can Learn From My Fails”:
“Tapping into your voice is a LOT harder said than done! In fact, it took 3 years of mimicking others and seeking the shelter of a âmarketing robotâ mentality until I accepted this approach wasâ¦well, not doing a damn thing for me.
Unfortunately, I did what most solopreneurs do. I found, followed and devoured the voices of those that were successful and figured parroting them would position me on the same tier of success. WRONG!
When it came time to launch my next brand, Chic Geek Academy, this misconception stuck with me in the most stifling ways. I was sure that infusing my straight shooting approach, my love of all things booze and my fluency of sass and sarcasm was a recipe for failure! And fail I did.
I didnât fail because I was too sassy or straight forward. I failed because I believed the tragic and common misconception that being different is a bad thing. When I hear remarks like, âYou canât be conversational or informal, or youâre going to come off unprofessional.â my lip involuntarily curls and my blood starts to boil. True story!”
14. Continuing with a pre-solopreneur lifestyle and not adjusting is nuts
Good Nelly in the article “7 Financial Mistakes You Should Avoid As a Solopreneur”:
“It will take some time to get success in your business. So, donât become overexcited and leave your present job. For some time, you may have to continue with both, until the time comes that you can meet your own and your familyâs needs with a certain percentage of your revenue.
Often, solopreneurs continue with a similar lifestyle even after starting their business venture. Think before making a big-ticket purchases. Because ultimately, youâll have to repay the amount.
It is always better if you can keep your personal expenses in check. Try to cut down your personal expenses as much as you can, during the initial phase.
If you can take big steps, like moving to a smaller apartment, canceling memberships that you can do without, etc., it will help you manage your business expenses as well.”
15. Being too casual, doing unprofitable, quitting – avoid the evil three
Clate Mask in the article “7 Deadly Sins Of Solopreneurs”:
“Is this a hobby, a job, or a business? Solopreneurs are frequently treating the business like a job. That treatment will usually result in you getting fired from your (solopreneur) job.
There are so many administrative tasks, so many indirect, tangential activities that may, hopefully, lead to income at some point, but thereâs not nearly enough time spent selling the product or service.
Running a business is way more work than having a jobâfor at least the first three years of business, usually longer and sometimes forever. Most people donât realize that. They think theyâre going to make more money per hour in their business. When they realize it takes a few years of making peanuts, they quit.
Everyone will tell the solopreneur sheâs crazy. Even well-intentioned family members, who are afraid or your failure (or afraid of your success), will shower seeds of doubt upon you. Most solopreneurs crack under the pressure and fold up shop.”
16. The compelling desire to leave no stone unturned can make you a freak
Brent Jones in the article “4 Key Challenges All Solopreneurs Face And How To Overcome Them”:
“Iâll be the first to admit that I struggled enormously with time management as a new freelancerâ¦ and not for the reasons you might think. See, most solopreneurs work from home. And as a result, the temptation to lose focus or get distracted is tremendous. After all, you are only a few feet from your television, and no one is telling you to stay put at your desk.
For the people who struggle with keeping focused, I canât help you. Perhaps building your own business isnât for youâ¦
But the big reason I struggled with time management â as do many others â is the tendency to work a little too hard in the early days on relatively insignificant tasks. From tweaking the typography on our blogs to adjusting our email signatures to recording the perfect voicemail greetings, some of us are born perfectionists.
And as such, we express our desire to succeed by leaving no stone unturnedâ¦ even though there is $0 waiting for us beneath those stones.”
17. Creating a product thatâs more advanced than your audience is foolish
Shannon Mattern in the article “7 Mistakes Iâve Made on the Road to Solopreneur Success”:
“I started with a free 5 Day Website Challenge that teaches how to build a WordPress site from scratch to grow an email list. Then I built a course called WP*OMG â Operation Marketing Genius which teaches how to build an online course or membership site and how to create all the marketing sequences to automate getting people into the course.
Sounds like a logical next step, right? WRONG. I miscalculated. It launched to crickets.
People need more help after they build their first site. There was too big of a gap between where my people are RIGHT NOW vs. where they will be when they need to create an online course or membership site or sell something. They need to hone their services, develop their brand, grow their list.
They werenât ready for OMG â even though they said they wanted it. I went too far past where they were.”
18. Not knowing about self-employment taxes is no excuse for financial mess
Laura Gayle in the article “6 Solopreneur Challenges â And How To Overcome Them”:
“For the average employee, tax time is relatively straightforward. Taxes are withheld from a paycheck and then W-2s are issued to aid in the preparation of Form 1040 for income taxes. However, the story is different for independent contractors, freelancers, and self-employed individuals.
Without a paycheck that automatically withholds federal and state taxes, as well as Medicare and Social Security, the burden falls on you to address these tax requirements. While itâs still possible to file taxes annually yourself with the right software, handling tax payments is a little less simple.
Most self-employed individuals pay their taxes quarterly throughout the year to avoid penalties, and knowing what to expect isnât easy for non-tax pros. Monitor your liabilities with a self-employment tax calculator and be sure youâre following IRS rules as closely as possible.
There are plenty of benefits you can reap by going into business for yourself, from flexible scheduling to complete independence in operations. However, not everything about working solo is sunshine and roses; downsides to solo entrepreneurship are unavoidable. A big part of succeeding involves knowing your pain points and making a plan to overcome them.”
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.
- Solopreneur Risk Management Tips: Solohacks RoundUp
- Solopreneur Overwhelm Streamlining: Solohacks RoundUp
- Solopreneur Business Model Nuances: Solohacks Roundup
- Solopreneur Productivity Strategems: Solohacks RoundUp
- Solopreneur Money Management Tips: Solohacks RoundUp
- Solopreneur Time Management Tricks: Solohacks RoundUp
- Solopreneur Tips: Many Angles, Many Ideas, Many Voices
- Solopreneur Branding And Its Nuances: Solohacks RoundUp
- Solopreneur Motivation Sustaining Tips: Solohacks RoundUp
- Solopreneur Choices Over 9-5 Jobs: Solohacks RoundUp