The Ultimate Guide to Surviving Entrepreneurial Meltdowns

entrepreneurial meltdown

entrepreneurial meltdown

You know that feeling: Your thoughts are flying at 90 miles per hour. It’s new business ideas, it’s deliverables, it’s remember-to-text-your-friend-tomorrow-it’s-her-birthday. It’s mental hyperventilation.

The thoughts are going so fast you can barely complete one before the next comes zooming along.

When you’re an entrepreneur, the professional is very personal. You’re pouring everything you have into your business. Work-life balance? Please. It’s not as though your life is here, and your business is over there. When you’re a one-woman shop, you wear all the hats. And with those hats come many responsibilities.

You knew it would be hard, but…

When you started your business, did everyone and their uncle tell you it was going to be hard? That advice can be frustrating because it’s not actionable.

No one told me what exactly to do when the going got tough. I don’t mean to imply that we have the corner on tough professions: a lot of jobs are challenging. But there is something unique about being solely responsible for all the moving parts. And since it is impossible to be good at everything, it’s inevitable that some of our responsibilities are hard for us.

That can feel pretty devastating when you are all you’ve got.

This professional stress is often compounded by a lack of structure that traditional jobs can provide. There is no boss holding you accountable, no annual review, no regular paycheck. You have to make those things happen. When I started my business, I became a lot more anxious about money, my value, being respected, imposter syndrome, spending “enough” time with friends and family, having non-work-related hobbies, and taking care of myself. These worries add a mother load of pressure to our work responsibilities.

Sometimes our thoughts are so relentless it feels like we’re trapped. Get me out of my head! you want to scream. It’s a like a tea kettle: After enough heat, the whistle starts shrieking, signaling that something’s got to give. So what happens? An epic meltdown. Tears, screaming, wanting to punch things, panic attacks, and more.

It might take a while, but afterwards, we feel better! The release brings clarity and can prompt good change.

Cycles of pressure and release are inevitable, and help us learn and grow. The problem occurs when we avoid these releases until they are explosions. Periodic meltdowns are natural, but epic meltdowns are painful, and they needn’t be so debilitating. What can we do to mitigate these epic meltdowns? Embrace -- and complete -- the cycle.

Let yourself complete the cycle

Let’s talk evolutionary biology: When we feel threatened, our mind wants to fight, flee, or freeze, accompanied by a huge dose of adrenaline. And if we freeze, that adrenaline has nowhere to go. Like a tea kettle, it eventually explodes out of us in tears, screaming, or punching.

When the “threat” we perceive comes from frequent, low-to-medium level anxiety (as opposed to, say, being attacked by a lion), fight and flight don’t make sense. So we freeze, but the pressure is still there. We go along, ignoring the anxiety or staving it off with coffee, wine, and sweets. Unless we create a “valve” to release the pressure and complete the cycle, it builds until we melt down.*

So how do we release the pressure before it explodes out of us? What follows are a list of “valves” you can build into your days to complete the cycle regularly and prevent epic meltdowns. Your task? Figure out which are the best ways for you to release the pressure you feel.

The entrepreneurial meltdown toolkit:

1. Exercise: Go for a run, pick up boxing, chop wood, get your sweat on with YouTube videos in your living room. Hard physical work lets your body process the pressure “naturally,” the way it would if it were to fight or flee.

2. Hug: Oxytocin, a hormone that promotes social bonding and tempers anxiety, is released with physical contact. A long hug or cuddle will boost your oxytocin levels and make you feel more connected and confident, thus releasing pressure.

3. Meditate: Regular meditation helps relieve anxious thoughts and reminds you of other parts of your life besides the whirring of your mind: physical sensations, sounds, breathing. I found meditation difficult (for many of these reasons!) until I discovered guided meditations through the app Insight Timer. Now, regular meditation helps me release the pressure that builds up while I’m entrepreneuring. A favorite meditation is Mindfulness for Releasing Anxiety, by Glenn Harrold and Russ Davey.

4. Practice self care: Taking care of ourselves focuses our attention on our bodies and, unlike much of what we do in business, isn’t for anybody else: It’s just for us. Regular self care is in healthy contrast to the pressure we feel when running businesses. As my entrepreneur friend Lauren explained in an email, “Here's what I do when I want to relax -- I take care of myself. I put on a face mask and have some wine, or a bath, or I paint my nails, or I do a hair treatment. It's completely removed from work and my computer, and yet I still feel a sense of accomplishment because afterward my skin is nicer.”

5. Talk: When pressure is rising in your mind, tell someone about it. Saying your thoughts out loud changes them; they sound different than they feel in our minds. It may help to have designated people to talk to about this, such as a best friend, partner, or fellow entrepreneur. You can help each other release pressure by questioning whether you agree with your thoughts or brainstorming solutions for whatever brings you anxiety.

6. Write: If confiding in another person isn’t your thing, try writing. Get the thoughts out of your head and onto something physical. If you keep track of thoughts on paper, your brain doesn’t have to try so hard to remember them and hold you accountable. When I’m feeling particularly fearful, I write down what I’m afraid of, and then brainstorm actions I could take that would mitigate my fear. I don’t have to act, but it gives me confidence to know there are steps to take that will improve the situation.

7. Tears: Sometimes all there is to do is cry. The physical release (tears) lets us process and symbolically release thoughts and feelings we keep inside. Recently I felt anxious and vulnerable about the future of my business. Instead of ignoring it, I went for a walk, sat by a creek, and cried. It wasn’t fun, but I felt much better after I let myself cry, rather than trying to pretend it wasn’t happening.

We solopreneurs are self-reliant, brave, and driven people. We want to do all.the.things, and with ambition comes pressure. As the pressure accumulates, it has to come out. We can ignore what we feel, but it will release -- epically. We do ourselves and our businesses the best service by letting the cycle complete. I urge us all to release the pressure regularly, and avoid the shrieking of that tea kettle.

What do you do to release pressure? How do you manage and/or avoid meltdowns? Please share in the comments!

P.S. Trying out a few of the options above to avoid explosions will help you in identifying your “non-negotiables” -- what One Woman Shop calls the essentials of Solopreneur Sanity. Find more about it in their free, 5-day email course below.

*Author’s note: The concept of completing the cycle was introduced to me in chapter four of Emily Nagoski’s Come As You Are, an excellent book on women’s sexuality. Many of my suggestions for completing the cycle are adapted from that book.

Shop Talk: It Doesn’t Matter if You Don’t Deserve It

solopreneur sanity

solopreneur sanity

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.

Use the Comparison Trap to Help You Build a Better Biz. Here’s How.

comparison trap

comparison trap

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.

The secret benefit? You can use it to build your brand identity.

To have solid brand definition means knowing what’s out there in the market, and thus comparing yourself to others has the potential to actually bring value to your business.

How?

The comparison trap can help you discover your uniqueness.

What normally happens when we’re constantly looking up to someone and propping them on a pedestal?

Besides starting to feel ultra inferior, we tend to emulate them, to blend into the mix. We think if we can just be like them, we can have success like they have.

But, what if we turned the trap into truthfulness? Instead of trying to blend in, why not use the comparison to unearth what makes your brand distinct?

To compare is not to despair

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!

Why There’s No Shame in a Bridge Job

bridge job

bridge job

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.

The beauty of a bridge job

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!

This post originally appeared on The Huffington Post.

4 Ways For Introverted Solopreneurs To Safely Reconnect With Humanity

introverted solopreneur

introverted solopreneur

Do you feel a little like you live in a vacuum?

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.

Reconnect with the physical world by getting a book -- a real one with paper and printed words -- and chilling out. You get to eyeball real humans and might even strike up a whispered conversation with a fellow bookworm. Being offline can catapult creativity. Your future self just might thank you.

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.

4. Or even hit the bar

An oldie but a goodie.

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.

Why You Need a Solopreneur Bill of Rights, and How To Get Started

solopreneur bill of rights

solopreneur bill of rights

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.

Identify specific tasks that really don’t require you. For example, your savvy VA can probably handle scheduling meetings once in awhile, or if you truly hate balancing your books, hire a freelance bookkeeper or service. Challenge the notion that because you are flying solo, you have to suffer through tasks that aren’t serving you.

Game-changer #2: Say no with grace, not guilt

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:

  1. I have the right to say “no” to projects and clients that aren’t a good fit for my business.
  2. I have the right to keep office hours and turn my laptop off when office hours are over.
  3. I have the right to catch up on email every few days instead of the second it comes in.
  4. I have the right to charge what I am worth. Period.
  5. I have the right to raise my prices as I gain experience and expertise.
  6. I have the right to take a lunch break.
  7. I have the right to ask for help from my community.
  8. I have the right to avoid putting undue pressure on my business by taking a bridge job when things are slow.
  9. I have the right to be honest about my expectations.
  10. 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!

The Second Annual #SolopreneurSanity Instagram Challenge is Here!

Sanity.

What do you think, when you think of that word?

"I wish."

"If only."

"Yeah, right."

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:

One Woman Shop's Solopreneur Sanity Instagram Challenge

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?

Starting Today: The Solopreneur Sanity Giveaway!

The Solopreneur Sanity Giveaway is here from August 1-12th. Enter to win a Solopreneur Sanity care package!

The Solopreneur Sanity Giveaway is here from August 1-12th! Win your Solopreneur Sanity care package today.

Want a little more sanity in your solopreneur life?

We want that for you, too. That's why we've curated a mini-solopreneur sanity care package for you -- because no matter the time of year or season of business, we could all use a few reminders that self-care and sanity come first.

From today until Friday, August 12th, here's what you can win in the Solopreneur Sanity Giveaway:

This care package is a little too good to miss out on, if we do say so ourselves. The good news is this: The more you share, the more chances you have to win!

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Enter your email address below to get notified about our next giveaway!

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PS: What's this solopreneur sanity we speak of? It's a focus on the non-negotiables that keep you sane. It's building a toolkit of strategies for when things spiral out of control. It's intentionally designing your business so that you can reclaim your freedom, take control of your days, and get your #1 asset (you) back.

PPS: Rafflecopter does not automatically complete the actions above; you have to do them yourself. Help our sanity by following through on each action to earn your entries! Thank you 🙂

Recognizing + Accepting the Different Modes of Your Solopreneur Business

recognizing and accepting the different modes of solo business

Recognizing + Accepting the Different Modes of Your Solopreneur Business

In business, as with life, you might notice that there are different periods that you find yourself in -- often without much choice on your part. Or, in the words of The Byrds, “To everything - turn, turn, turn // There is a season - turn, turn, turn” (apologies for getting that stuck in your head!).

For example, during the launch of the Solopreneur Success Bundle, we both worked day and night -- the Bundle sale closed at 11:59pm EST on a Friday, which means we were cheersing via video with our white wine when most people were out at the bars or cuddled in bed. And we loved it.

But immediately after we wrapped up the lingering details of our launch, we both fell impressively fast into low-motivation periods (despite our thought that we’d be riding high post-Bundle). Naps were abundant and productivity was a bit stunted. That period? It lasted about two and a half weeks.

We love noticing patterns, so naturally, we started talking about the different phases of business -- in our case, we realized that we have maintenance mode, growth mode, and launch mode.

Here’s what they look like for us:

  • Maintenance mode: In this mode, we’re basically doing the bare minimum to 1) keep our members happy and 2) keep our wider community (email list, social media channels, and more) happy. That means remaining active in our Facebook Group, holding our regular events (like our weekly Hot Seats on Blab), and responding to emails.
  • Growth mode: In this mode, we’re working to grow all elements of the business -- membership, products, affiliate marketing, and more. For us, content creation is one of the most effective ways to reach more people -- some examples of this are freebies (like wallpapers and ebooks), and interview roundup posts (like our So You Wanna Be a... column). We also spend a lot of time pitching ourselves and forming collaborations (both of which we talk about at length in our Building Your Online Community e-course).
  • Launch mode: In this mode, we’re almost single-mindedly focused on getting our new product or service into the hands of solopreneurs around the world. Launch mode is characterized by pajamas, quick workouts, hair in a messy updo, and white wine.

Why does this all matter? We’re big advocates of recognizing and getting comfortable in each period so that you can truly enjoy them instead of fighting against them. Need a few strategies for making that a bit easier? Here’s what’s worked for us:

1. Cultivating acceptance through writing

The single most important step, in our humble opinions, is cultivating acceptance. We recommend writing down your feelings as you’re in each mode of business so that you can refer back to it when you lose perspective and stray away from acceptance. It might look like this:

I’m in launch mode and pulling my hair out. Forcing myself to work out but I feel guilty because it’s only 15-minute HIIT workouts. Trying to eat healthy food but I just don’t have the time to cook fancy meals. Seriously wish I could just curl up in a ball and take a nap but I’m so freaking close to launch and want it to go as well as possible since I know there’s a limited window I need to take advantage of.

I’m in maintenance mode and feel super unmotivated to work. I’m spending a ton of time doing other productive things in life: working out, making meals to freeze, working on languages on Duolingo, and seeing all my friends a lot (we’ve been taking Wisdom Walks together... haha). I feel guilty that I’m not pushing forward on the biz though, ahhhh...

Relate to any of the above? Putting your feelings (irrational or contradictory as they may seem) in writing can help you process them more effectively and, dare we say, even allow you a bit of space to laugh at yourself when you swing from one end of the pendulum (overwhelmed, uber-excited, and borderline freaking out) to the other (bored, unmotivated, and obviously totally out of great ideas for the rest of your life).

2. Maintaining your routine

Another beneficial practice is incorporating rituals and routine into your everyday solo biz life -- and sticking to them, no matter what mode you’re in. Notice how we mentioned healthy eating and working out in both launch and maintenance modes? Sticking to your non-negotiables (which we talk about in The Solopreneur Sanity Handbook) can be an effective means of maintaining your sanity -- even if the quantity and quality vary based on your available time and energy.

3. Getting systems in place

In maintenance mode, you might feel like watching back-to-back episodes of Friends or Parenthood on the couch with a mocha in hand. (Dream life.) In launch mode, you’ll be almost singularly focused on, well, launching. We advocate proactively putting systems and automation in place so that you can handle the ups and downs of each mode with minimal disruption and stress. Evergreen social media posts going out regularly without day-to-day effort from you? Check.

A few places to start:

Note: We talk about these resources and many more in The Solopreneur Sanity Handbook.

Identify and embrace your modes of business

Your modes of business might look slightly different than ours. Today, we encourage you to do some thinking about the different business phrases that you find yourself in. We find that by identifying and articulating them (and what they look like for you), you have a better awareness and can embrace the uniqueness of each one more fully. Time to love both those crazy late nights of working to finish up your sales page and those lazy days at the coffee shop reading for (gasp) pleasure!

PS: Want to hear us talk about the modes of business? We riff on it in this episode of The Hot Seat.

Your days, back in your hands.

Get instant access to 5 Days to Reclaiming Your Time, a free email course with the mindset shifts + action steps you need to get started in reframing your relationship with time. Sign up below!

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Get Your Sweat On: At-Home Workout Resources for the Solopreneur

at-home workout resources

We have a confession to make: We (Sara and Cristina) love working out. An important addition to that confession is this: We never thought we’d say that.

It goes without saying that getting our sweat on at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end of the day almost always means a better day overall, and, as solopreneurs who could easily work for 12 hours without coming up for air, we know how important it is to get our asses butts moving. (For the good of our own sanity, as well as our relationships with others.)

Getting to the gym isn’t always easy, though. There are the days where the weather isn’t conducive to going outside, let alone driving anywhere. There are the days when the gym’s hours don’t match your ideal schedule, or you only have 15 minutes and it’ll be entirely sucked up by the commute there. Then, there are the days where you and your yoga pants simply don’t feel like leaving the house. But that doesn’t mean a workout is completely out of reach.

After being asked for recommendations by a coaching client (and looking to add some flavor into our own at-home workout routines), we turned to our trusted OWS members for their favorite YouTube channels and resources -- and boy, did they ever respond. Check out the list of (mostly free) resources below, and get inspired to get your sweat on. Let’s get to it, shall we?

For those seeking inner peace

Practicing yoga throughout the day can bring a new level of calm to your chaos. Oh -- and it’s a reason to lay flat on the ground for a solid ten minutes in the middle of the day. (Thank you, savasana.) Namaste.

  • Yoga with Adriene: Adriene’s YouTube Channel includes a 30-day Yoga Camp, as well as video sequences for beginners, for weight loss, and more. Oh -- and she’s pretty entertaining, too (goofy with a side of snark!). Price: free
  • Tara Stiles: Equally as popular is Tara Stiles, whose playlists range from “Beginners” to “Bed Time” to “Hotel Yoga,” with lots in between. Price: free
  • YogaGlo: YogaGlo includes a variety of classes -- many from well-known instructors -- and takes into account all levels of yogis. Price: $18/month

For those who want to get their dance on

Many (okay, maybe all) of our midday breaks include some sort of dancing -- and no, we’re not very coordinated.

  • Zumba Fitness: The channel that invites you to “turn up the bass.” For those of us who don’t necessarily want to shake our hips in a class full of strangers, we can do so in the comfort of our own home. We’d like to add this: It’s an excuse to listen to Latin remixes of Bieber. Yep, we said it. Price: free
  • Kathryn Morgan: You don’t necessarily need pointe shoes to get your ballet going at home. Kathryn’s a former soloist in the New York City Ballet, and her barre workouts range from “easy” (it’s all relative, of course) to challenging. Price: free
  • Jasmine Meakin: Flash back to your middle school days, when you’d set up the camcorder and record your own rendition of *N Sync’s Bye Bye Bye music video. (Wait, was that just Sara?) To rekindle that fun, check out Jasmine’s channel, full of choreographed dances from celebs. Price: free

For those looking to carry some weight

Dwight might call out “weak arms” as a “defect” amongst women on The Office, but we’d beg to differ. Sun’s out, guns out, are we right?

  • Fitness Blender: There’s no shortage of bodyweight videos at the Fitness Blender -- and you can search workouts by type, length, difficulty, muscles used, and calorie burn. Don’t miss the playlist with 124 workouts that can be done in 10 minutes or less. Quickie? Yes, please. Price: free
  • MyoMy.tv: Marianne’s all about the weights, so her channels are best if you’re sporting a set of kettlebells, handweights, or other strength trainers at home. Price: free

For those who are all about that core

Six-pack abs might not be everyone’s dream, but we’re not sure who would complain about them, either.

  • Blogilates/POP Pilates: “Train like a beast. Look like a beauty.” Well, okay. Cassey Ho brings no shortage of workout videos (usually short!) to get your core, legs, and arms burning (and really makes you redefine plain ol’ pilates). Price: free
  • Pilates Anytime: The name isn’t joking -- with over 2,000 videos, this YouTube channel helps you do a variety of different pilates workouts anytime, anywhere. Price: free

For those who want to walk it out

We are all about the Wisdom Walks -- getting outside to walk it out, but there’s nothing wrong with bringing that right into your living room.

  • Leslie Sansone Walk at Home: Walk a 15 minute mile, rotating between four movements: forward kick, back kick, walk up, walk back. Longer videos have you walking up to five miles, and get a bit more intense (think: lunges). Be warned: Leslie can be a bit corny, but we have fun with it. Price: $4.99/month

For those who want it all

There’s nothing that keeps us from getting our sweat on like a stale workout routine. Who says we can’t have it all?

  • POPSUGAR Fitness: Awesome variety, from weights to yoga to kickboxing, and more. Check out the playlist “Class FitSugar” (over 200 videos) or scan a plethora of other playlists. Price: free
  • Tone It Up: Karena and Katrina are well known for a reason -- just watching the intro video on their YouTube home page will have you jonesing for a workout (and the beach). Price: free
  • Be FiT: The variety here isn’t just in the types of workouts -- it’s in the trainers, too. Jillian Michaels is one of many -- and that lady will kick your butt. Price: free
  • The Daily Burn: This is for the person who seriously wants it all -- The Daily Burn customizes your workout plan and features workout series from names like Bob Harper, Anja Garcia, and Ben Booker. Price: $12/month

Sweat it out

You don’t have to leave the house to get your heart pumpin’. Throw on that sports bra (or don’t -- it’s up to you) and get your sweat on right at home, you ass-kicking solopreneur, you.

How do you incorporate exercise into your day when you can’t (or don’t want to) leave the house? Tell us in the comments below!

PS -- A huge thank you to OWSer Monica Froese for asking the question and fellow members Abigail Murrish, Heather Witkop, Mallie Hart, Brittany Berger, Jill Dretzka, Shay Orlena Brown, Sara Lloyd, and Julienne DesJardins for sharing how they get their moves on at home!

PPS -- Want to follow all of these channels in one place? Check out our YouTube subscriptions list!

at-home workout resources