The most wonderful and equally the hardest part of working for yourself, or being a solopreneur, is that the outcome of your business is solely your responsibility. If you are having a difficult day, so is your business—but if you are having an enjoyable day, your business is as well.
For those of you who have ventured into self-employment, there are days this roller coaster of emotions can be overwhelming, and at times you would like to get off that solopreneur carnival ride. Take comfort in knowing the challenges you are feeling are normal and it is just part of the process of learning how to be an entrepreneur.
Being a solopreneur takes self-employment one step further in the business realm. What it means is you choose to be the owner and manage all aspects of running the business, all by yourself. Solo. Your success is 100% all up to you, and that can feel like an enormous responsibility if you allow it to.
I understand well that two of the biggest challenges solopreneurs constantly face are learning how to master the ability to manage all the tasks that need to be completed, while at the same time not letting your business control you or your personal life because of the volume of those tasks.
In this article, I will share some of the solopreneur success strategies I have learned to cultivate to have the mindset needed to have a successful business and personal life.
Overwhelm vs Freedom
Being a solopreneur means you are responsible for all the jobs and tasks required to run your business. This position in your business can feel like an overwhelming, and often unending, obligation. You probably feel like you are attempting to complete everything all at the same time with never enough time to do so.
These responsibilities became easier for me in my business when I realized that while I was responsible for multiple areas of my business, I could complete them in a way that worked for me. I could also be as creative as I wanted to be with how I ran my practice and where I spent my time. This realization is when my business became fun for me.
I learned the importance of designing a schedule around my personal life first, and my business life second. Once I had an outline for my week, it gave structure to my world. I was then able to see where I had time to complete business tasks and could allocate time to those needs.
I then challenged myself to practice how to think through my day from beginning to end before diving into my task lists. This allowed me the ability to prioritize the order of task completion and become more efficient at batching tasks together to save more time.
I found while I could get things checked off my to-do list, when I acted without thinking about how each piece fits into my business and life, it wasted the most precious resource for my business, which is my time.
When I started controlling my time this way, I experienced freedom inside my business and the overwhelm began to disappear.
While the lure of self-employment is the dream of being able to increase how much you earn or can earn, the real gift of self-employment is to be able to manage your time the way you want to around your work.
As a solopreneur you have high control over your business and time. With that ability comes responsibility and you cannot abuse that right or failure can follow.
This concept of being able to manage your time and push more tasks into less time is a concept I call maximizing your business. Since massage businesses are appointment-based, time success begins with designing an appointment-based schedule alongside a life schedule that works uniquely for you.
This is the heart of all the coaching I do because when solopreneur massage therapists understand they can control their schedule and can set up their work schedule to support their personal life and vice versa, they feel relief and the freedom they were seeking when they started out in business for themselves.
Healthy Time Boundaries are the Key to Success
Once you have defined your perfect personal schedule, set up a work schedule around your life. Doing so will automatically create your time boundaries.
It is your responsibility to maintain this schedule and protect your time. I think solopreneurs do best when they learn to respect themselves, accept their limitations as a positive tool for their business, and adhere to their healthy time boundaries.
Healthy time boundaries and limitations look something like this:
• Set scheduled hours and make your business fit into those hours. Do not ask yourself to work “overtime” or give up your days off. As a massage therapist, not maintaining this boundary can backfire quickly because of the physical cost to our bodies. Longevity in this career is linked to this essential boundary.
• Maintaining your work and personal boundaries will require that you always return to your schedule when you deviate. It is normal to have times you need to put in a few more hours to catch up at work or a client needing accommodation. It is essential you always come back to your healthy boundaries as best as possible.
Getting off-track in your schedule is easy to do when you accommodate a one-time request for a client outside of your normal appointment times and then the client expects you to continue to accommodate. You must make the decision of how to accommodate clients while maintaining your boundaries, reset those boundaries when needed, and keep them to protect your time.
The same goes for when you accommodate events in your personal life. It becomes essential you limit how often your personal life causes changes to your business schedule as it will impact your income. It is easy to become frustrated with a business that does not support you financially, not realizing it was, again, a lack of time boundaries that created this outcome.
• Be open to changing your schedule as needed. Your life is going to change. Be flexible and kind to yourself and change your business schedule as needed to accommodate your personal life. The key is to be proactive in these changes instead of reactive.
For a solopreneur, controlling your time is and always will be a balancing act. If you know what your ideal schedule is, and consistently work toward maintaining it, you will find you are your biggest supporter and the freedom in both time and money you seek is attainable.
About the Author
Amy Bradley Radford, LMT, BCTMB, has been a massage therapist and educator for more than 30 years. She is the owner of Massage Business Methods and the developer of PPS (Pain Patterns and Solutions) Seminars CE courses and an NCBTMB Approved CE Provider. Read more of her Advanced Business Strategies columns on massagemag.com.