The solopreneur life calls for some specific and ingrained action-and-behavior traits. Some traits may be already innate within you to help you succeed. Some other traits can be learnt and converted into habits. First of all, you need to get to know what these traits are that not only can make you a mere solopreneur, but a highly successful one at that. The right traits must then be deployed at work every day for the long haul, till they produce the big results.
Of all the traits of successful solopreneurs that I have seen – especially the 6-figure solopreneurs – I would identify these four traits below as the ones most contributory to big success. See if you have these already in you that you can grow – or if you don’t have these traits, you’ll have to acquire them and cultivate them consciously till they turn into spontaneous habits.
Are you able to steadily work a set number of hours per day 5 days a week?
When people read the book by Tim Ferriss titled “The 4-Hour Workweek”, they often don’t realize the hidden aspect of it. This is what is implied: if you set 4 hours per day as your goal, then you have to put those 4 hours of work in. Just because you are cutting down on the 8 hours per day conventional workstyle, and bringing it down to just 4 hours a day, doesn’t mean you can be casual or flaky about those four hours of commitment you make.
You sure can have an easier life as a solopreneur than in a regular 9-to-5 job, but since success is all up to you and your determination, you absolutely have to stick by what you set for your own schedule. And what’s more, you have to do this day after day, year after year, and thus reap the big results. There is really no program that says you can work “at least 4 hours on most days” to get where you want to be – a 6-figure solopreneur with a great solopreneur life.
As Travis Bradberry mentions in his article “14 Things Ridiculously Successful People Do Every Day”:
“Highly successful people know that there are 1,440 minutes in every day and that there is nothing more valuable than time. Money can be lost and made again, but time spent can never be reclaimed. As legendary Olympic gymnast Shannon Miller told Kevin, “To this day, I keep a schedule that is almost minute by minute.” You must master your minutes to master your life.
Also, throw away your to-do list; instead schedule everything on your calendar. It turns out that only 41 percent of items on to-do lists ever get done. All those undone items lead to stress and insomnia because of the Zeigarnik effect, which, in essence, means that uncompleted tasks will stay on your mind until you finish them. Highly productive people put everything on their calendar and then work and live by that calendar.”
Are you unafraid to make mistakes and can you bounce back from them fast?
If you truly are the right person to get and live that 6-figure solopreneur life, you cannot be afraid of making mistakes – and neither can you afford to be wallowing in mistakes made. Mistakes are blessings in disguise, because they arise out of applying something learnt practically, and then testing if the experiment works on the ground or not. An ounce of experience is worth a ton of theory. So if you have learnt a lot, and then made mistakes in the implementation of it. you are forced to question the assumption behind your actions. Redraft your strategy and then plunge right back in.
The well-known author Kathryn Schulz, who has written the ultimate book called “Being Wrong” says in one of her TED Talks:
“This attachment to our own rightness keeps us from preventing mistakes when we absolutely need to, and causes us to treat each other terribly. But to me, what’s most baffling, and most tragic, about this is that it misses the whole point of being human. It’s like we want to imagine that our minds are just these perfectly translucent windows and we just gaze out of them and describe the world as it unfolds. And we want everybody else to gaze out of the same window and see the exact same thing. That is not true, and if it were, life would be incredibly boring.
The miracle of your mind isn’t that you can see the world as it is. It’s that you can see the world as it isn’t. We can remember the past, and we can think about the future, and we can imagine what it’s like to be some other person in some other place. And we all do this a little differently, which is why we can all look up at the same night sky and see this and also this and also this. And yeah, it is also why we get things wrong.”
The truly inspiring solopreneurs are the ones who not only have made many mistakes, but they have also shared their mistakes transparently with others to help them. You too must never cringe from mistakes, or try to brush mistakes under a carpet, or pretend to be a paragon of perfection. Failure gives you the room and space to get it right next time – and who knows, the failure may help you get it so right at the next try, that you may thank the Universe for the opportunity to have failed. The critical thing about failure is that you cannot give in to self-pity, and you have to bounce back with alacrity. You can’t take too long to “lick your wounds” (which is rather well-known way of masking procrastination).
Are you able to turn away from all distractions during working hours?
The solopreneur life demands a great deal of willpower and determination. Contrary to common belief, some of us are not born with determination – in fact, most of those who succeed will tell you they have worked rather hard to acquire their persistence, stick-to-itiveness, focus and determination. They not only taught themselves to get fully absorbed in their tasks, but also to stay blinded to distractions.
Distractions, unfortunately, are inevitable in life. They may come in the shape of people demanding your attention and time, or as events that are urgent or important, or as things that you remember suddenly and thereby put into the forefront of your mind. Sometimes the external emergencies are real or even critical, and you will have to deal with them. But the majority of distracting situations that occur usually can’t be classified as “emergencies” and will not require you to respond right away. Many of these distractions will also resolve themselves on their own with time, without your intervention.
Distractions coming from your own memory, or as external emergencies, are easier to handle than distractions that come as other people. Responding immediately to other people’s time and mind-share requests sometimes sets you up to keep on receiving more such requests. By being firm and not responding, however, you will clearly signal that you are a strong-willed, focused person, who is very busy and possessive over your time and mental attention. Over time you will be bothered less and less by trivial time-wasters who begin to get your message that pester-power won’t work.
Phyllis Mufson, a career coach, has offered piece of advice in the article titled “How To Ignore Distractions In The Workplace”:
“Happiness largely comes from feeling that you are doing a good job at work that has meaning to you, and seeing positive results from your efforts. It takes skill and focus to produce high-quality work at the top of your game. Distractions can decrease focus, which increases stress, which can intensify any poor work habit you may have. Distractions can acerbate all of the issues that lead to poor performance, creating a negative spiral where poor performance leads to more stress which leads to more poor performance, and so on.”
Andy Teach, a corporate veteran and author, has a slightly different take on distractions – he believes they are sometimes bad and sometimes good for you.
“All workers have trouble with distractions in the workplace to some degree. The key is to limit those distractions as much as possible. However, occasional workplace distractions can actually be a good thing. We’d all get burnt out pretty quickly if we didn’t get distracted from time to time and take our minds off of work. The danger, however, is when distractions take up too much of our time and prevent us from getting our work done.”
Are you able to enjoy knotty problem-solving almost as a daily work exercise?
Inherent in the very word “entrepreneur” is the origin of the word – it means “adventurer”. The same applies to any “preneur” – a solopreneur, an ecopreneur, an authorpreneur. All “preneurs” need to be adventurers, and as we know from childhood, adventurers are those who don’t wait for adventures. They seek them out voluntarily, because overcoming tough situations adds to the thrill of life. If you don’t like problem-solving, and don’t see it as part of life’s adventure, then the solopreneur life is definitely not for you. Because I can guarantee one thing: every day of your solopreneur life is going to bring loads of problems to solve.
In addition to your own business problems, since you aim to build a strong target audience base, you’ll also have to dedicate yourself to helping your audiences solve their problems. That’s how you become a brand with trust and authority, the natural go-to person in your industry.
You may often have heard the terms “pain-ponts” whenever you have come across articles on Digital Marketing. Pain-points are nothing but the knotty, challenging problems people face that really cause them pain. Those are the problems they want solved first. They are urgent or important problems to solve. Their solutions often call for creativity or resourceful thinking or an innovative approach. You need to evolve your own systematic and remarkable way of problem-solving. In fact, the relish with which you solve other people’s problems, and the ingenious process you have created by which you solve such problems, then becomes your distinguishing edge in the competitive market.
Eric Sherman in his article “How the Most Successful People Solve Problems” advocates taking a systematic approach to problem solving that makes problem-solving as easy as 1-2-3.
“Many people hide from problems or panic when facing them. It could be that they don’t have a method for working through challenges. The great advantage of a methodology is the way it takes you out of a situation and lets you apply a series of steps that can lead to the result you need. The following steps can help you work through virtually any problem. They’re general, of course –
otherwise the problems you could address would be too limited. Instead of specifics, they rely on principles of addressing the dynamics of an issue so you can find the best resolution. Depending on the situation, you might even be able to skip some steps, but always see if they might apply. The more aspects you can address, the more tools you have to construct a solution.
- Identify the actual problem
- Break it down into parts
- Examine the history
- Determine the people involved
- Know who benefits
- Find the possible solutions
- Note the pros and cons and pick your solution
Every solution will have its price. Know what you can live with and what you’ll have to do to make the solution work.”
So what are your thoughts on this topic? Do share!
This post is incomplete without your input. The community of aspiring digital 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.
This is Article 1 in our “Contented Solopreneur Guide 1: Are you ready to be a solopreneur?”