If you’ve been following the Successful Solopreneur column for any length of time, you already know I’m a full-time freelance writer who transitioned from a career in law enforcement approximately eight years ago. But what you may not know is I am a big do-it-yourselfer. If I can take care of something that needs to be done myself with a little learning and time, I’ll do it.
For example, when my husband and I had to clean up our home after renters did a number on it, I learned—and performed—tasks I never knew how to do before. Removing scuff marks on kitchen and bathroom trim? I watched a few videos, bought the recommended product, and now they look almost like new. Chips in the tub? Took care of those too.
Business-wise, I’ve applied similar techniques. I’ve learned how to create my own website, discovered how to develop my business’s social media pages, and have formulated my own system for keeping track of all of my important records (income, expenses, etc.).
I even took the DIY route for learning how to write as a profession. Sure, I could’ve enrolled in a college or university and taken classes in journalism or writing, but I didn’t. Instead, I read numerous books from Joe Vitale, Sally Hogshead, and other persuasive writers. I put in hundreds of hours learning the craft without ever stepping foot in a classroom.
Then I took what I learned and practiced writing for 12, 14, or 16 hours a day. That’s actually how I became a writer for Chiropractic Economics magazine. I spent so much time hunched over in front of my little netbook that I wound up with major headaches and dizziness. Chiropractic helped resolve that issue, so I reached out to the magazine and asked if I could write for them, mainly because I saw the value and wanted to help promote the profession. They gave me a chance and, seven years later, I’m still assigned a handful of pieces every month.
Why Being a DIYer Makes me a Better Solopreneur
Solopreneurs Wear Many Hats
When you’re a solo business owner, you don’t have staff that you can delegate all of your tasks to. This means that if you want to survive, you need to learn how to do a number of things you don’t already know how to do.
Having a DIY mentality makes it more instinctive to want to learn these tasks. It’s something that just comes naturally, so you roll up your sleeves and set out to learn everything you need to know about running a successful business.
Solopreneurs Generally Have Small Budgets
Being a DIYer is also beneficial to solopreneurs because we typically have smaller budgets with which to get things done. We’re not some huge company with a lot of resources to hire out specific tasks, which puts us in a position where we either have to learn what we need to know or risk failing. And DIYers don’t like to fail. We’re resourceful; that’s what we do.
To not be able to figure something out feels like we’ve let ourselves (and others) down, so we’ll typically put in the work necessary to pick up the required skill. Even if it means putting in long hours to do it.
Being a Solopreneur Is a Lot of Work
Speaking of putting in the necessary work, owing a one-person business is a big commitment. When you don’t have anyone helping you build and grow your company, your success lies solely on you. This often means working extra hours to get everything done.
If you’re a DIY person, this type of workload doesn’t feel as scary because you don’t mind showing up early, staying late, and putting in time when most others have already called it a day. You understand that to get the outcome you want, you have to give it your all. The two kind of go hand in hand.
While this is all beneficial, being a DIYer isn’t always an advantage to solopreneurs. Like most anything in life, there are two sides to the same coin.
How Does Being a DIYer Work Against Solopreneurs?
It’s Easy to Get Overwhelmed
When you have a growing to-do list and you have to learn how to do it all yourself, it can feel incredibly overwhelming. Many times to the point where you want to give up.
There have been numerous points in my journey when I’ve told myself that I’d be better off throwing in the towel on my freelance writing business and getting a “real job.” I sit and convince myself that it would take a lot of stress off just being able to go to work and come home. No more of this thinking about my business 24/7.
Fortunately, I’ve stayed the course and, though I have some down times every now and again, these are becoming fewer and further in between. I still sometimes feel overwhelmed, but when I do, I remind myself that I’ve been here before and made it through. I’ll make it through again.
Failure is Easier
The reason I say that failure is easier as a DIY solopreneur is because, when you do everything yourself, there’s no one there to pick up the slack if you start to fall behind. There’s also no one there to bounce ideas off of to potentially keep you from making a bad business decision.
That’s why it’s helpful to have other solopreneurs in your network. If you feel like your business is slipping or you’re not reaching the growth-related goals you want to reach, you can talk to them and ask for their advice or input. Chances are good they’ve faced similar situations themselves.
Even if they haven’t, they’ll likely recommend someone else you can talk to or some particular tool that can potentially help you in your business. Other solopreneurs are great resources and sometimes great mentors, giving you people to turn to when you’re unsure what to do.
Or maybe you only need a bit of encouragement, a gentle reminder of why you chose to become (and want to remain) a solopreneur. Having someone who understands the challenges you face can talk you off the ledge when you feel like throwing it all away. At a minimum, they can make you feel less alone.
You Feel Like You Can’t Delegate
Since the idea of being a solopreneur is premised on the fact that you’re a one-person show, you likely feel that there’s no option of having someone else help you. That’s simply not the case. Just because you’re a solopreneur doesn’t mean that you can’t outsource certain tasks to take some of the load off your shoulders.
For instance, I have solopreneur clients who pay me to write or edit their marketing content (web pages, blogs, case studies, and more). They are still solopreneurs, but they hire me to take care of these types of tasks, enabling them to focus on other areas of their business.
Other tasks you can hire someone else to handle for you include scheduling, bookkeeping, social media engagement, website development, and marketing. Just because we can learn these things doesn’t mean that we have to. Sometimes it’s best to leave these to the pros.
Being a DIYer can work for or against you as a solopreneur. By recognizing this, you’re better able to harness the strengths and minimize the weaknesses that come with being both. Just like any respectable DIYer would do.