A Self-Management Guide For Solopreneurs6 tips for staying motivated when you work for yourself.
As a solopreneur, you may not have to deal with managing a team of employees, but everything depends on your ability to get the job done. And while there’s a lot of freedom and flexibility to be had as a microbusiness owner, holding yourself accountable and managing time wisely are not easy tasks.
“Solopreneurship will mature you, and you will come to realize that you can handle more than you think,” said Trevor O’Bier, a solopreneur and Florida-based franchisee of mobile dental equipment repair brand Dental Fix Rx. “Without productivity, the quality of work being produced will deteriorate. With customers being the highest priority, self-management skills are a prerequisite to delivering consistent work.”
In order to stay on track, you have to set your own boundaries and strategically plan how to tackle each task on your plate. O’Bier shared six lessons he’s learned about self-management as a solopreneur to help you stay motivated and productive while on the job.
Find a mentor
According to MicroMentor, a social network that connects entrepreneurs and volunteer advisors, mentored businesses have higher survival rates and see five times more revenue than those without a mentor. O’Bier said this is because the support system created by a mentoring relationship grows your professional network and helps you grow in a number of ways beyond self-management.
“All business owners need to find a space where collaborative, critical thinking and open dialogue is encouraged,” he said. “I frequently turn to my mentors when I’m facing an unfamiliar situation or difficult repair.”
Building relationships with people who have more experience, as well as peers, is very helpful because they can relate to your situation, serve as encouragement, challenge you to do better and point out possible growth areas, he said.
Seek outside counsel
When you’re on your own, it’s easy to get into a rut. O’Bier said it’s important to solicit advice from outside business-minded people who can weigh in on your current flow of operations.
“As a business owner, you can be too close to your own business and stuck in your own ways of thinking,” he explained. “An outsider looking in may offer a different and brand-new perspective on how you’re self-managing and more.”
Have a day of rest
Work-life balance is important for anyone, but especially for small business owners who do everything on their own. Unfortunately, drawing the line between work and rest can be a struggle for solopreneurs, said O’Bier.
“Entrepreneurs are constantly working, even when we aren’t in ‘the office’ — we’re researching, finding answers to our customers questions, paying bills, etc. I believe it is important to make sure we have a day when our focus is not on work, but more so on the reason why we work.”
Pick at least one day of the week to spend time doing things you enjoy that aren’t related to your business, he advised.
“It’s important to recharge, and for me it’s playing card games, sipping coffee and enjoying our friends without deadlines and emails hanging over my head.” -Trevor O’Bier
“It’s important to recharge, and for me it’s playing card games, sipping coffee and enjoying our friends without deadlines and emails hanging over my head.”
Master your response time
The next key to self-management is learning how to handle your calls, return voicemails, emails and texts in a timely manner.
“One thing I’m always working to improve is my response time on all lines of communication,” said O’Bier. “By being conscious of others’ time and delivering answers in a timely manner, it shows that you care and increases customer loyalty. Even if you do not have an answer for them right away, customers appreciate your quick response and desire to help them get what they need.”
Set constant reminders
“All entrepreneurs must have an inner voice that helps guide them through their everyday agendas. There’s no one telling you to be at work at a certain time or how something should be done,” O’Bier explained. “Self-management is about being resourceful and using tools available to you with calendar reminders, phone reminders, helpful scheduling apps, etc.”
For example, keeping up with your brand’s social media profiles may seem an overwhelming task with everything on your plate each day, but creating two or three 15-minute appointments on your calendar each week to dedicate to your online presence will help ensure this important task doesn’t get forgotten.
No matter how long you’ve been running your own business, it’s important to remember that nobody has everything figured out, said O’Bier. Be sure to step back and take an honest look at your strengths and weaknesses, and identify areas where you can use improvement.
“I’m constantly looking inward and evaluating my performance,” he said. “As a solopreneur you have to be the one to call yourself out and give yourself that raw self-evaluation.”