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Wellbeing / Working alone

Small business versus solo business

Recently I went from solo business to small business and back again to solo life. It's been an interesting experience and one that's reacquainted me with my inner solopreneur – thank goodness!

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Before going from solo business to small business, I had done my homework. I’d checked my business plan’s objectives and areas for growth. Talked to friends. Consulted my Inner Me. I was ready to leave the front room at home. I needed company and a fresh direction for my energy. So joining a new team as a partner in a company that seemed to have everything going for it looked to me like a fantastic opportunity.

There was only one nagging doubt –  I wondered whether the finances were going to be strong enough. Were the spreadsheets realistic? I knew we were undercapitalised, but I thought we would get through it with some elbow grease and inspiration. Surely that was what entrepreneurism is about, taking risks? Sacrificing now for the big payoff later? Was I being a scaredy cat?

Within a matter of a few months, it was clear that the financial arrangements weren’t in place to ensure the company’s success, and cash flow was crippling. I ended up spending all my time on financial worries and negotiating accounts, and less and less on the clients that had been the backbone of my solo business for so many years.

My offering and reputation was getting diluted and overshadowed by the business of running a business.

After a lot of soul-searching, I determined that even if you’re having fun and driven to do what you are doing in small business, you don’t necessarily have all the skills you need to pull it off. You have to be open to the suggestion that you need help – and find it before it’s too late.

Six months down the track and $40K poorer, I’ve just this minute sat down at my new desk, back on my own, but in an office away from home at a fantastic price, with people who can share my talents and I theirs.

"After a lot of soul-searching, I determined that even if you're having fun and driven to do what you are doing in small business, you don't necessarily have all the skills you need to pull it off."

Back on my own, and don’t it feel GOOD!

What I needed was a new office. What I got was sidetracked into a new small business, in which I personally and financially invested heavily. What I have learned is that it’s sometimes tempting to over-grandise where we are and what the next step is. I took a very big step rather than a baby step, and I wasn’t ready for it.

It was traumatic but so very worth it for the things I have learned about the realities of business ‘out there’, away from my front room.

Want more articles like this? Check out the working alone section.

Sharing business direction was fun but sharing in not being paid when things crunched wasn’t. Sharing visions was fun, but expectations not being met, wasn’t. Allowing each other room to explore passions was fun but not meeting deadlines wasn’t.

Ultimately, the nagging doubt turned out to be the biggest limiting factor between that business today and its potential to stay afloat and I couldn’t financially or emotionally stay any longer. My money and emotions had run out.

In the end, I discovered some crucial things about myself. I’m demanding, I like control, and I like to do things myself. I guess this is why a soloism has appealed – and worked – for me for so long. This is why I’ve built a solo business with a strong reputation and which has stayed focussed on the bull’s eye for so many years.

I’ve also learned that soloism is honourable. There were times when I would read the business profiles on successful entrepreneurs and envy their partners and their conviviality, the joining of many minds towards one great goal.

But my one mind IS enough to reach my goals. My clients bring me the sharing and conviviality I seek without the attachment.

I guess you don’t have to get into bed with the first business opportunity you see – you might not get enough sleep! It’s the same with the clients we take on and the work we choose to do. It is as they say: follow your bliss. Thank goodness I’ve had this chance to clarify what bliss is for me.

It’s taken a little while to reconnect with where I was as a solo business when I left off – winning awards and making some serious headway around town. Further down the track, it hasn’t taken long to find the ol’ groove and I can happily say ‘I’m back’ and know that this is where I truly want to be.

Jess Tyler

is passionate about helping innovators find their voice and about helping clever organisations to create their own marketing rules.

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