Welcome to Shop Talk! While we love providing you with jam-packed, actionable posts, we also wanted to share quick, thought-provoking snippets here and there — from our brains to yours.
We once had a coaching client blurt out “I want to run away” mid-session. We could have laughed and kept pressing her about her to-do list, but we paused and asked her…“Do you need to run away?”
If you find yourself thinking or saying “I need a break,” consider it. Maybe it’s an hour-long nap, maybe it’s a day of playing hooky and laying in bed with mint chocolate chip ice cream and How I Met Your Mother, or maybe it’s a week-long beach vacation with no wifi.
Here’s what our client’s — and so many others’ — first reaction was when we brought up the idea of actually stepping away: “But I don’t deserve it!”
We know that feeling, because we feel it often. You just got back from vacation, so you don’t deserve a day off. You didn’t work enough yesterday, so you don’t deserve to take a few hours off today. Heck, you don’t even deserve a 10-minute break to go on a walk or meditate, let alone a 20-minute break to take a power nap.
But can we tell you a little secret? It really doesn’t matter if you “deserve” it or not. We won’t get too philosophical, but what does “deserving” mean anyway? Who determines what you and we deserve?
When you find yourself with that thought, ask yourself this instead: “Will taking a break allow me to do better work in a more joyful way?” If the answer is yes, to hell with what you deserve or don’t — time to plan a break, either immediately or in the near future, and remember this: Rest does not equal rust.
P.S. We know running away isn’t always the answer, and what works today might not work tomorrow. That’s why we wrote The Solopreneur Sanity Handbook, with 27 tried-and-true solutions to the inevitable sanity-threatening scenarios we find ourselves in as solopreneurs. You can get a taste of the Handbook with instant access to our free email course, 5 Days to Reclaiming Your Time, below.
The comparison trap is a universal one. You’ll be hard pressed to find anyone who hasn’t fallen down the slippery slope and had a moment (or two) of jealousy from coveting someone else’s career success.
And let’s face it — no matter what career stage you’re in, there will come a time where comparison will creep in. We are living in a hyper-connected time, and consequently, a comparison-soaked culture.
It’s far too easy to check your social feeds and see the latest and greatest accomplishment from your dearest competitor. One could argue that a simple solution to the comparison trap is to stop following the feeds. But social media isn’t the problem — it’s our own internal mindset that constantly makes us feel like we’re not stacking up.
Time for a mindset makeover.
Instead of counselling on how to avoid the comparison trap, why not flip the script and use the trap to your benefit?
For someone who’s in the beginning stages of their freelance career, comparison is a constant. I spend way more time than I’d like to admit creeping the success of others. At first, it was competitive research — after all, isn’t getting a pulse of the industry good business practice?
But when you’re so wrapped up in someone else’s accomplishments, fear eventually steps in and paralyzes. Instead of asking myself: “What do I need to do to get where they are?” I would simply sit and think: “There’s no way I’ll get to that level.”
Talk about deflating.
In the beginning, you often don’t know just who you are in relation to your business. Figuring that part out can be your hardest challenge. So, in comes the silver lining of the comparison trap…
The best part of the comparison trap
Avoiding it is not the answer. You’re already hard enough on yourself and this shouldn’t be another source of stress.
I’ve recently become a fangirl of Tara Gentile — she’s the founder of Quiet Power Strategy®, which offers hands-on training and support for idea-driven entrepreneurs. In this recent interview she did on the ConvertKit podcast, she shares the secret to flipping the comparison trap into something good for your solo biz.
Jealousy and envy are considered “ugly” feelings — if we’re feeling them, it’s usually in secret and we often beat ourselves up for feeling that way. But all emotions, even envy, have a purpose. If you’re feeling jealous about someone else’s success, the emotion may simply be pointing you towards what you value most.
And what you value most is an integral element to defining your business brand.
Like it or not, there are many female solopreneurs or side hustlers out there who do what you do.
At the end of the day, we all help other businesses, in one form or another:
Grow their bottom line,
Build their brand,
Craft compelling content, or
Connect with their communities
But it’s what makes you different as a business person that will get you noticed, and ultimately, sway those other businesses to choose working with you.
By looking at others — your role models, your competitors, even your industry friends — you can consciously define your brand against the rest, helping you hone in on a more concrete brand identity.
Turn the comparison trap into your truth
The journey of growing a business and brand is often full of self discovery, which is why the conversation of entrepreneurship easily intertwines with personal growth. When you start to figure out who you are and what you represent in relation to your business, it can be the very thing that helps you gain the traction you were missing before.
The comparison trap doesn’t have to get you down. Comparing yourself to others opens yourself up to discovering what fits you, and what doesn’t. Choose to use it to gain perspective, and you might just come to appreciate the trap you previously loathed.
How can you turn the envy from comparing yourself to others into enlightenment about your brand? Leave a comment below to let us know!
There are a lot of things you could be doing when it comes to your email marketing.
You could be setting up multiple lists for each and every product or service you offer.
You could be manually moving your customers from one list to another after they buy.
You could be spending hours each week combining lists, setting up segments, and testing to make sure you’re getting the right messages to the right people at the right time.
But then, that would leave less time for wine, popcorn, and Gilmore Girls…and that’s just not cool. (Feel free to fill in your own guilty pleasures there.)
We want you to have all the time in the world for your guilty pleasures.
That’s why we’re especially excited for our workshop happening today, 11/17 at 3pm EST with Darrell from ConvertKit, where we’re going to be jamming on connecting with your audience — and saving time and money while doing so. (Heck yes!)
Here’s what he’ll be sharing in today’s (free!) webinar:
How to use simple automation tools and strategies that’ll save you multiple hours each week
One simple trick to segment, teach and pitch your customers automatically (and without coming across like a weird used car salesman)
Exclusive behind-the-scenes access to learn how to automate your sales funnels like Pat Flynn (in fact, Darrell is going to show you Pat’s exact funnel)
Can’t make it live? No worries — there will be a replay!
No matter how much our digitally-savvy hearts love online organizational tools like Google Calendar, Evernote, Asana, and more, there’s one thing a lot of one woman shops can agree going analog on: planners.
There’s something so incredibly satisfying about setting your planner up for the week, the month, and the year. Something to be said for seeing everything you want to see in one place. Something to be said for being able to physically cross something off a list.
So when it comes to tracking time, to-dos, ta-das, and much more, we love getting a glimpse at the best planners for solopreneurs.
Without further ado — and in no particular order — we give you the best planners for solopreneurs!
”Grace, not perfection” is Emily Ley’s motto, and The Simplified Planner is a fantastic example of how she helps women live that motto out. Coming in both daily and weekly editions, the minimalistic design is perfect for starting every day on a fresh note. We especially love the ample margin space and luxurious paper.
Pros: The Simplified Planner is minimalistic, leaving room for you to make it entirely your own. Daily and weekly editions let you choose how you want to plan.
Cons: Weekend days share one page — not ideal for the freelancer who likes equal opportunity planning for Saturdays and Sundays.
Focus on what makes you happy. That’s what The Happiness Planner is all about — breaking us from the autopilot of constant productivity and turning our minds toward reflection and self-care. Start by creating your “Happiness Roadmap,” then head into each day with the spotlight on positive thinking and affirmations, mindfulness, gratitude, and self-development.
Pros: With an initial monthly page that gives you room for personal and work goals and daily pages that still leave plenty of space for to-dos, list-loving solopreneurs will still have plenty of room to plan out their days.
Cons: The planner focuses on a daily view, so for those who prefer to see their week at-a-glance, this might not be the planner for you.
Created for solopreneurs, by a solopreneur. Freelance designer Christie Montague knows a few things about juggling a million things on the to do list. She created Plans & Things as a way for her to keep track of everything in her work + life, and you might quickly realize that it’s great for you, too.
Pros: So. much. room! The monthly spread gives you each month at-a-glance, while the weekly layouts include room for writing out weekly goals, scheduling your days, building multiple to-do lists under different categories, and jotting down “notes + brilliant ideas.” Add interchangeable covers, and the versatility of this planner becomes tough to beat.
Cons: The flexible cover, though protected, might be prone to wear.
What doesn’t Erin Condren do right? Created by a woman, for women is what we like to see — and she does it right with her signature LifePlanner™, which seems to somehow keep getting better, year after year.
Pros: Three choices of layouts (horizontal, vertical, or hourly) allow you to see your week how you want. Sturdy binding and laminate (interchangeable) covers make this a durable companion throughout the year, and inspirational covers with quotes like “She designed a life she loved” will remind you how lucky you are to be a solopreneur.
Cons: Bright colors and a 7.25” x 9.25” size make this planner hard to conceal when you’re out and about.
Elise says Get to Work; we say get shit done. With this planner, they’re one and the same. The Get to Work Book is a daily planner + goal setting workbook designed to help you break those big goals down and take things one day at a time. In Elise’s words: “While (sadly) it can’t do your work for you, every inch of it was thoughtfully designed to help you get to work.”
Pros: The minimalistic design lets you focus on the important additions you’ll make, and the 12 motivational text prints throughout will give you the push you need to make each month your own. The addition of 14 “project breakdown” pages and 13 “reflect and goal-set” pages make this a true goal-getting planner.
Cons: For those who like color, you’ll have to add it on your own. And at 246 pages, expect some weight for your work.
Poppin’s out to help us all ”Work happy.” This incredibly colorful planner packs a lot of punch in a little space, and is made with a sturdy spiral and protective cover, keeping it travel friendly.
Pros: Easy-to-find, color-coded months as well as weekly spreads leave room for lined notes and white space every day. The addition of a sheet of icon stickers makes our sticker book-loving hearts oh so happy.
Cons: Coming in at just 8.25” x 6”, the planner might be too small for those who like to write a lot…or write big.
Hardcover. Gold foil. Daily and weekly editions. ”What I will do to feel the way I want to feel” adorning the covers. Yep, Danielle LaPorte’s planners are about as enticing as everything else she creates. (#truthbomb) Naturally, it incorporates “your soul and your to-do list; your gratitude and your goals; your deepest desires with your day-to-day.” Love.
Pros: The daily layouts leave room for your Core Desired Feelings, Soul Prompts, your schedule (with a focus on reframing obligations into choices) and more. If you identify as a heart-centered solopreneur, this is more than just a get-shit-done planner.
Cons: Lots to distract from your daily to-do list (but yep, that’s kinda the point).
All.of.the.lists. That’s what this planner is about. Each page features one long to-do list, with each day making room for your top five priorities. Weekly goal + gratitude prompts add a layer of reflection, and sections dedicated to goal tracking and note-taking leave room for making it your own. For the Type A’s out there, your heart will never have been happier.
Pros: Despite weighing a hefty 2 lbs, this planner’s 7” wide x 8.5” tall, making it easy to tuck away. A hardcover and strong binding make it portable no matter the conditions.
Cons: If you’re looking for a simple to-do list planner, this one might have more bells + whistles than you need.
With seven different interior agenda choices and non-dated alternatives that offer up more space, May Designs is the ultimate in offering options that let you build planners to fit your style. Choose a cover style and your own personal monogram, and you’ll never mistake this planner for anyone else’s.
Pros: Choose from three sizes: the Mini May Book (aw!), the Classic, or the Large. Totally customizable interior pages let you choose how you want to build your planner, so you can make it work how you want to. Flexible covers make them super easy to stow on the go.
Cons: Extra space isn’t at a luxury here. For people with lots to write and keep track of, this probably isn’t the best option.
Simple, yet definitely still fun: This medium-size planner includes a pocket for extra papers, colorful monthly tabs, and a convenient elastic closure to keep everything in place. Our favorite part: the colorful, inspirational, coated tabs that mark the start of each month.
Pros: Simple yet durable. Includes a past and future month reference on each monthly spread (something that comes in handy more often that we think it might).
Cons: The layout of the Raise the Barre planner doesn’t leave a ton of room for customization.
The Commit30 Day Planner is the first product in what its creators are calling the Commit30 movement: a movement to help you accomplish your goals + dreams by taking small steps that lead to big changes, 30 days at a time. The path of least resistance is one we can get behind, which is why we loved the theme of this planner.
Pros: 240 pages of goal-based planning keeps you hyper-focused on breaking big dreams down into small actions, and staying consistent. Also: Despite not being spiral-bound, this planner lays flat when opened. (Thumbs way up.)
Cons: With black, brown, and gold as your cover options, this isn’t the prettiest (read: girliest) of planners.
Plum Paper is more than just a delightful name — these planners offer endless options to not only make them pretty, but to make them super functional in helping you manage your life and business.
Pros: Customizable calendar views let you organize your days however you want — the super organized can view their days in hourly increments while the more spontaneous solopreneur can plan by morning, afternoon, and evening. Additional add-ons include extra note pages, stickers, and more.
Cons: Honestly? It’s easy to be overwhelmed with the choices! From five vertical/horizontal options and countless cover designs, it’s hard to choose just one.
The Passion Planner has a bit of a cult following for a reason: It is truly a one-stop shop for managing your life. It has everything from an appointment book and to-do lists to a journal and gratitude log.
Pros: The flexible cover makes this planner fun to stow anywhere, and the ample space for note-taking makes it easy to transform into a planner, notebook, and journal.
Cons: Black and white is the name of the game here. If you’re searching for a planner that reflects your personality and matches your office, the straightforward design may not be for you.
The Dailygreatness journal combines a yearly diary, goal and appointment planner, and daily tools for self-mastery. This is more than just your average get-shit-done planner; the Dailygreatness planner is for anyone looking to truly integrate self-care into their ongoing routine.
Pros: Daily, weekly, quarterly, and yearly check-ins help keep you accountable in creating great habits, from meditation to dream journaling, exercise to even self-awareness question sessions, and more. Full-color pages make it a book you’ll never want to put away.
Whitney English struck a chord with busy moms, bloggers, and entrepreneurs when she created the Day Designer in 2010 — and it’s remained a favorite amongst these groups ever since. Beautifully-laid out daily pages help women to specifically to focus on the important pieces of each and every day.
Pros: Each day includes a Today, To-Do, Dinner, Gratitude, Top 3 To-Do Prompts, and space for notes. For solopreneurs fitting a lot into their day (maybe you know someone like that?), this planner has the space you need.
Cons: All that space comes at a premium! Adding up to over 2 lbs, the Day Designer isn’t great for stowing and going.
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Welcome to Shop Talk! While we love providing you with jam-packed, actionable posts, we also wanted to share quick, thought-provoking snippets here and there — from our brains to yours.
So, here’s a fun fact: The Google Doc for this Shop Talk idea was started in February — and all it had in it was the main idea (focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses), and the words “yogi tea” — Sara’s grocery list?
That’s fun, but here’s the ironic part: This idea was already in place before we read StrengthsFinder 2.0 (affiliate link) as part of #OWSBookClub. Clear proof that sometimes we subconsciously know things before we ever have a chance to put them in context.
Fun facts and ironies aside, one thing is very true of solopreneurs, and society in general, really: We focus on our weaknesses way more often than our strengths.
We buy courses to improve areas of our life/business that need honing. We join masterminds filled with people who know things we don’t. We read books on topics we think we should know more about.
Now, learning is all well and good (okay — it’s more than that — we love learning), but it’s the attitude we take toward learning that is a bit of a concern.
Tom Rath, author of StrengthsFinder 2.0, would argue that instead of attempting to better our weaknesses, we should capitalize on our strengths.
Said another way: Instead of targeting our learning toward the things we feel we should be better at, why not target our learning at the skills we already have?
For me, Sara, that might mean setting aside more time to focus on really diving into what I’m reading. (First strength from the StrengthsFinder 2.0 assessment: Achiever, with a description that includes really taking time to absorb and process what’s being read.)
For Cristina, that might mean finding resources that help her hone her analytical thinking. (Her first strength: Strategic.)
The point is this: We all have innate strengths that stand out. How would this world be different if we all focused on improving our strengths, and spent our time learning things we were genuinely interested in?
If it sounds like capitalizing on those strengths is really just taking the easy way out, it usually isn’t — because sometimes, despite being our strengths, they still might not necessarily be in our comfort zone.
There’s always room for improvement when it comes to our strengths. Start there. Your “weaknesses” can wait for another day.
PS: We had a lot of fun sharing our results on The Hot Seat. An interesting revelation: We could each have the same strength (i.e. Learner), but it manifests in very different ways from person-to-person.
Let’s not beat around the bush: There seems to be a myth amongst One Woman Shops that it’s shameful to take on part-time or full-time work for someone else when they’re working to build their solo business.
The feelings that come up: shame; embarrassment; failure. After all, how can you call yourself a business owner if your business isn’t fully supporting you?
Excuse us while we clear our throats — as it turns out, we happen to have a lot to say about that.
Issue #1: That’s a whole lot of all-or-nothing thinking going on.
It’s not black or white. It’s not stop or go. And it’s certainly not all or nothing.
The author Barbara Kingsolver writes acclaimed novels, grows her own vegetables, runs a local co-op, and holds classes on farming out of her backyard. Do those “extracurriculars” make her any less of an author? No.
Just like babysitting, tutoring, tending bar, or any number of bridge jobs you might take on will not make you any less of a business owner, so long as you keep putting time into building your brand.
And the “gurus” who tell you that you have to be 110% committed or you’re not a “real” business owner? We happen to like Coach Jennie’s response to that one, after falling for that advice: “these all-or-nothing thinking gurus weren’t responsible for my rent.”
Issue #2: Working from a place of financial stress simply isn’t effective.
While we can come up with several reasons for a bridge job (and we share them, below), the biggest reason is because a solo business owner may find herself financially stressed.
And here’s what we see in our coaching clients, members, and community when they’re coming from a place of financial burden: desperation (that their audience can “smell”). Hasty decisions. Getting away from their values or what they’re truly aiming for.
What ends up happening is that they build a business for short-term gains instead of long-term appeal. This is through no fault of their own — when there are bills to pay, mouths to feed, and responsibilities, those short-term gains are necessary.
But they aren’t ideal for building a business that will fuel you for a long time to come — especially one where you’d like some semblance of solopreneur sanity.
Here’s what we mean when we’re talking about bridge jobs: a job that gives you financial stability while you build your solo business.
A bridge job is literally anything that brings that financial stability — from pouring wine tastings (Sara) to catering for a pizza restaurant (Cristina) to babysitting (both) and everything in between. There’s no shortage of bridge jobs out there.
What a bridge job allows for
Financial stability: We like to think of it as a comfy cushion. When you’re working from a place of financial comfort, you’re empowered with the confidence to take risks, fail faster, and reiterate. You have room to experiment. To work with people how you want to, not just in the way that will make you the most money. Maybe you just want money to put into your business? A bridge job can provide the money to invest in that new website.
Structure: Have you ever heard the adage, “If you want something done, ask a busy person?” As it turns out, most of us work better with structure. I (Sara) can speak from experience on this one: When building my business as a side hustle in addition to my full-time job, I was amazingly productive in the ~10 hours/week I devoted to it. Once I had my days wide open after quitting that full-time gig? Productivity became a tug of war. So if you’re worried about a bridge job taking away precious time, remember this: You can do big things with just 5, 10, or 15 hours a week.
Community: Depending on the role, a bridge job will introduce you to people who might end up as readers, followers, customers, clients, or collaborators in your solo business. And if the people themselves aren’t ideal partners in any way, shape, or form, let them serve as inspiration. (I’ve often considered becoming a bartender just for the appreciation of the stories I’d be sure to hear.)
Learning: Getting paid to learn might be one of the best feelings, ever. And if you go into your bridge job with this attitude, there’s no shortage of things you can learn. Learn from your boss; learn from your fellow employees; learn from the situation. I learned to upsell while pouring wine samples; Cristina learned the importance of connecting with potential clients and customers on shared interests. Keep an open mind.
Bridge jobs for building businesses
Whether you’re just starting out, or you’ve been in business for a while but just aren’t there yet, there is absolutely no shame in taking on a bridge job that helps you reach your long-term goals and build the business you want to run.
Businesses take time. “Overnight successes” more often take 10 years than they do one day.
We don’t share any of this to discourage — we certainly are not saying that you can’t take the leap from your full-time job tomorrow or stay away from “the man” forevermore. We share this because we’ve seen all sorts of business situations amongst our community and members, and, it takes most (us included!) a long time to become both profitable and sustainable. In fact, had we been in this solely for the money, One Woman Shop likely would’ve folded by now. (#truth) We’re fueled by our passion, our belief in what we’re doing, and the progress we’ve seen so far in helping other One Woman Shops.
You are in this for the long haul, right?
Tell us: What fears creep up for you when it comes to the idea of a bridge job to ease your financial situation? Remember: There’s no shame here!
You’re working your solopreneur socks off, getting stuff done, but in a big empty cave of introverted aloneness? Your mental space is big, echoing, empty, and you’re used to the silence of solitude.
It’s not really fair — you became a solopreneur to get out of the hubbub and love your life. But now you’ve overshot and fallen out of the social sphere completely. Your dedication has made you into the figurative gooseberry.
You might feel guilty for admitting loneliness, but there’s nothing to feel bad about. It doesn’t matter if you’re the most dedicated, introverted solopreneur imaginable — we all crave connection on varying levels. Reaching out might feel like weakness, like admitting you can’t handle being a solopreneur.
It’s not weakness. It’s a million miles away from weakness. It’s called being human. But if the only conversations you’re having are in comment sections and emails, you’re going to burn out. That’s going to impact your business, closing the vicious circle and leaving you feeling helpless.
Simply put, being alone 24/7 isn’t good for you, no matter your personality type.
There’s no need to go cold turkey, switch off your computer and head out to find the nearest rave. You can flex your social muscles and find fulfilment in a group without betraying yourself and forcing yourself into situations you hate.
Being social, even if only for a few hours a week, is good for your health, good for your business, and good for your sanity. The best way to get started? Start small. Here are four safe ways for even the most introverted solopreneurs to step outside…
1. Go to the library
If the idea of walking into a bar frightens the keyboard-worshipping life out of you, then try somewhere famous for being quiet.
The little old ladies who run libraries are always up for a little chinwag, and they’re the least threatening people on the planet. They’ll even do all the talking if you let them, so no need to worry about solitude-generated mumbling.
2. Go get the groceries the old-fashioned way
InstaCart and AmazonFresh are amazing, yes, but kick the online shop and go to the store in person. Get a trolley/cart. Make a list. Impulse buy some wine or iced pastries. All that human stuff.
The ladies and gentlemen manning the checkouts are always good conversation. Most of them will be elated someone’s bothered to ask how their day’s been and will be happy to chat. Or you could head to your shopping center and splash out on a little non-edible gift, like makeup or a new gadget.
3. Hit the gym
Yes, the gym! The gym’s a little louder and more labor-intensive than the library, but everyone there will respect you for just turning up.
If you don’t fancy pitching into the open workout area, get into your social groove by joining a class: spinning, yoga, circuits, or get your moves on with Zumba and Bokwa. The pounding music will drown out your work-related thoughts, and you’ll be too busy figuring out how to do the shoulder wiggle to worry about what everyone thinks of you.
It’s a great way of bolstering confidence and realizing that everyone’s okay with you being you, in all your shoulder-wiggling glory.
Maybe if you’re lucky enough to live near some great trails and sweating it out in an enclosed space isn’t your jam, join a running or walking club for the same social blast while soaking up birdsong and clean air.
Take a friend or two and work your way through your Bramble, or Singapore Sling, or sparkling water — whatever floats your boat. Let the company flow through you and unwind.
Turn your phone off, shove it in your handbag and ignore it. Your phone won’t combust if you don’t check it every five seconds and your client won’t evaporate if you’re not there immediately over email. Just soak up the camaraderie, the ambience, the nibbles, and smile.
You never know — you might meet a future client at a jazz bar or a cozy pub totally by accident. Wouldn’t that be something?
The world is full of opportunity
Try the library and maybe join a reading club. Level up your grocery shopping and volunteer to do weekly shops for neighborhood seniors and make a lifelong friend. Try a wine-tasting evening to chat with your grape-minded compatriots.
Face-to-face conversations; dinners; the odd day out. These things are fun. You get to smile, laugh, unwind and take your mind off your Basecamp for a moment.
It gets you out of the house and talking to strangers in a safe place. It’s also a habit that’ll stand you in good stead for building working relationships. Networking doesn’t have to be a dirty word.
Businesspeople are human too, and you’ll come across as a robot if you immediately launch into a sales pitch at your first meeting. Remember, people don’t do business with robots. People do business with people.
Moreover, getting out more often will make you better at building relationships, which is the basis of being a solopreneur.
You’ll also be happier, which will make the whole running a business thing much more fulfilling.
If you’re so inclined, you could incorporate your few hours of sociability into work. Co-working spaces are all the rage now, and you can be sure you’ll be surrounded by like-minded people…maybe a fellow One Woman Shop!
The more your personal life improves, the happier you will be, and the better your business relationships will be. So, my fellow introverted solopreneur — human connection doesn’t have to mean hitting up the latest, snazzy networking event in town. Getting human interaction on a personal level provides benefits to you and your treasured work — it’s a win win.
I recently took a well-deserved vacation up and down the West Coast. I scheduled my blog posts, doubled-checked my invoices, and gave my clients the scoop, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was going to miss out on something.
It was my first time away from my business for more than 72 hours, and as I packed and prepped, I started to feel some serious separation anxiety coming on. The night before I was set to leave, I opened an email from someone I had wanted to coach for a while. She was finally ready to sign on, and I was ecstatic.
“This is so great!,” I emailed back. “I’m totally thrilled to be working with you, and I’ll send you everything as soon as I get back in town next week.”
Her reply was immediate.
“I really want to get started right away. Can we have our first session while you’re on your trip?”
My stomach sank. She needed my help, and I needed the money. This would mean changing my plans or at least building in time on my vacation for a few hours of work.
“Seriously?” I thought. “I’ve been working on this relationship for months, and now she’s ready? I’m supposed to trudge my laptop to the beach with me, or worse, stay home? I’m a life coach, for pete’s sake! I’m supposed to be good at this stuff! I need to get a handle on what I will and won’t allow in my biz. And fast.”
After pacing my office, my head swimming with confusion and guilt, I realized:
“What I really need is my solopreneur bill of rights…a personal set of rules or guidelines I can go to when things get crazy or tough decisions have to be made. I need a compass, and I need it to be tailored to me.”
Here’s what I created, and here’s I what learned from the process.
Game-changer #1: Challenge the solopreneur trap
“If I don’t do it, it doesn’t get done.” – My mom, circa 1990 and every day after.
I usually (lovingly) roll my eyes when a client spouts this particular piece of martyrdom because it’s rarely true…except when my client is a solopreneur or freelancer. As one women shops, it is literally true that if we don’t write the blog post, that blog post isn’t going to exist. But just because you are the one responsible for making sure everything gets done, that doesn’t mean that you have to be the do-er.
Most of us get into business because we care. We genuinely want to help our clients, and we long to create, express, and change the world. Naturally, when we want to say “no,” guilt arrives. After all, much of the business blogosphere teaches us that we have to take every opportunity and constantly hustle in order to “make it.”
Between people-pleasing tendencies and striking while the iron is hot, no wonder we end up in burnout.
When approached with an ask (like scheduling sessions on vacation), my new “no” strategy is simple:
Speak up and think: I usually say, “Thank you! I am determined to finish a few current projects before taking on new ones. Let me check my calendar and give you an answer next week.” Then I truly consider: How much time is this actually going to take? How much of my energy will it pull? Is it a good fit for my brand? Do I actually want to do it? If I say “no,” what will I be able to say “yes” to instead?
Follow through: Give a definitive answer. It might feel better to avoid a “no” you don’t want to give, but stringing someone along won’t assuage your guilt, and no one benefits from a half-hearted “yes” or your half-assed participation. Say no with a smile and nothing but positive intention in your heart, but don’t leave the door open for negotiation if you aren’t willing to negotiate.
Comfort any lingering guilt: Saying “no” doesn’t mean you aren’t a helpful, flexible person, it just means that you chose another value that’s more important in this specific decision, and that’s okay.
Game-changer #3: Create your own Solopreneur Bill of Rights
Create a short list of rights you need to remember when things are tough, scary, or overwhelming, and post it in a place you see often.
I had a simple intention for my Solopreneur Bill of Rights: I want to be more like honey than water in my business. Water compromises its shape to fill the container it’s in, while honey flexibly glides about, capable of filling the container it’s in, but ultimately retaining much of its original shape (and sweetness).
My Solopreneur Bill of Rights reads:
I have the right to say “no” to projects and clients that aren’t a good fit for my business.
I have the right to keep office hours and turn my laptop off when office hours are over.
I have the right to catch up on email every few days instead of the second it comes in.
I have the right to charge what I am worth. Period.
I have the right to raise my prices as I gain experience and expertise.
I have the right to take a lunch break.
I have the right to ask for help from my community.
I have the right to avoid putting undue pressure on my business by taking a bridge job when things are slow.
I have the right to be honest about my expectations.
I have the right to love my business and change things about it that aren’t serving me.
Fellow solopreneur: You started this business for a reason. You have a right to enjoy running it.
Now it’s your turn. Create your Solopreneur Bill of Rights and post it in the comments or on Instagram. Tag us @onewomanshop and @amyecoaching so we can cheer you on!
As a solopreneur, stress is just a natural part of our day-to-day. That’s what makes this topic — solopreneur sanity — so very important. Because we all need a little help managing that stress and getting closer to more and more days filled with moments of solopreneur sanity.
Especially when the coming weeks often bring the highest stress in both your work and personal lives (which, we know, are pretty much one and the same).
So, starting on Tuesday, November 1st, we’re going to be challenging you to seven days of #SolopreneurSanity prompts on Instagram: from sharing wise words to showing us how you move your body, and giving your brain a break to being picky about the food on your plate. As you take an inward look and experiment with new things, snap a pic and share with us during the challenge!
Here’s what’s included over the next seven days:
Tuesday, November 1st – Words of wisdom: Share your favorite sanity-focused quote, advice, or book — something that changed your perspective or has stuck with you over time. Wednesday, November 2nd – Get shit done: Show us your favorite procrastination-busting, get-shit-done strategy. Thursday, November 3rd – Brain breaks: Choose the best way for you to unplug and enjoy some time digitally detoxing. Friday, November 4th – Your body is a wonderland: Focus on your body by exercising, eating something that makes you feel great, or committing to adding some extra zzz’s to your schedule. Saturday, November 5th – Let it go: Tell us one thing you’re going to stop doing or let go of in order to introduce more sanity into your days. Sunday, November 6th – Pay it forward: Give in some way — your time, money, services, or gratitude. Monday, November 7th – Happy endings (+ beginnings): Set your priorities and schedule for tomorrow.
Here’s how to participate:
1. Upload a photo to your Instagram account that corresponds to the day’s theme. So, on Tuesday, November 1st, post a photo of your favorite self-care quote, on Thursday, November 3rd, snap a pic of what you did during your time disconnected (oh, the irony — we know), on Monday, November 7th, share a photo of how you’re paying it forward, and so on! Miss a day? Jump right back in when you can!
2. Include the hashtag #SolopreneurSanity when you upload your photo for the day. It’s the only way we’ll be able to follow along — and we’ll be re-gramming a few each day from the @OneWomanShop account! (Bonus points for fun captions!)
3. Remember, Instagram is a social network. Be sure to explore the #SolopreneurSanity hashtag and interact with others participating in the challenge. (You might even grow your following in the process!)
Let’s have fun interacting on Instagram while working to improve our #SolopreneurSanity (something we most likely all need).
As we enter the last weeks of the year (eeeks!), we want to band together to stress less and appreciate our #SolopreneurSanity more. Who’s with us?
In this episode of One Woman Shop’s The Hot Seat, Cristina Roman + Sara Frandina talk about their experiences with meditation, the common hesitations they hear from people who want to try it, the benefits, and the best ways to get started — because meditation isn’t one-size-fits-all.