Congratulations! You’ve made the leap to full-time solopreneurship.
The first few days out on your own are exciting, scary, freeing and anxiety-inducing all at the same time.
I would know. I’m currently in the midst of week three of running my own solo business after six years in a stable 9-5 corporate job. Over the last few years, I was building my business as a side hustle around those corporate hours.
During my first week of full-time solopreneurship, I experienced a million different types of emotions, ranging from “This is the BEST! Why did I wait so long to quit my job?” to “Oh My God, WHAT am I doing with my life?!”
Feeling that way, too? Take a deep breath and relax. What you’re experiencing is completely normal.
Plan ahead for those jitters with these five must-dos for your first week of solopreneurship.
1. Stick to your “normal” routine. While one of the major perks of solopreneurship is the ability to create your own flexible schedule, for the purposes of an easier transition, stick to your normal routine as closely as possible in your first week. For me, that meant continuing to set my alarm for 5 a.m. and starting my day with a workout even though I didn’t necessarily have somewhere to be at a certain time. Similarly, don’t forget to eat and hydrate! On my first day of solopreneurship, all of a sudden it was 2 p.m. and I hadn’t eaten lunch and was wondering why I was starting to feel so cranky and anxious. It’s the simple things that can fall by the wayside when you run your own business. Over time, begin to experiment with your schedule, but to keep yourself sane (at least in week one), stick to a schedule that creates a little bit of normalcy in your life.
2. Stay organized. Your first week as a solopreneur is your chance to start strong. As a business owner, there’s A LOT to keep track of. Put processes in place now to track your income, expenses, emails, client list, etc. One thing that has really helped me is creating a “master networking spreadsheet.” This is a list of every single person I reached out to (or who reached out to me) upon announcing my new business venture. In the spreadsheet, I track who the person is, the date we chatted, what we talked about and I tag the person as either a client, potential client or simply a good person to network with. This spreadsheet makes me feel in control of my relationships, connections and conversations, and will serve as a useful tool to remind me to stay in touch and follow up with my network. As business owners, we don’t always feel in control of what’s going on around us, but putting processes and organizational tools into place can help us gain back a little bit of control.
3. Leave yourself blocks of time to get work done. When you announce to your community that you’re starting your own business, naturally, your network will be excited for you. Many will want to set up coffee dates, breakfasts, lunches or Skype calls. I recommend you take the time to network and chat with these connections, but be sure to leave yourself significant blocks of time to actually get work done. In my first week of self-employment, I participated in 18 different meetings, many of them back-to-back, leaving me no chunks of time to write and complete proposals. By the end of the week, I felt completely panicked and realized I had committed the #1 major mistake of self employment: I seriously overbooked myself. Consider blocking your time in a way that works for you -- moving forward, I plan to leave my mornings open for writing/work and keep my afternoons clear for meetings/calls.
4. Do something that makes you feel like a solopreneur. In my first week of self-employment, I did two things that truly made me feel like a solopreneur. The first was meeting a friend for lunch and coworking at our favorite cafe in the middle of the day on a Tuesday. The second was teaching a 9:30 a.m. yoga class on a Friday morning. Both of these activities made me feel like I was “playing hooky” from work until I realized, “This IS my job now.” While simple and not so out of the ordinary, these two events allowed me the opportunity to really feel like a business owner calling the shots and running my own business. What type of activity makes YOU feel like a solopreneur? Allow yourself to indulge and take advantage of your new schedule and life by doing something that makes you feel good and excited about the future ahead.
5. Start and end your week with inspiring conversations. My first day of self-employment kicked off with a phone call with my mentor/biggest cheerleader, Jason Mollica. The week ended with a Friday afternoon call with a super inspiring fellow business owner, Ben Butler. I couldn’t have imagined a better way to kickstart and bookend my first week of solopreneurship. Think of two of the most inspiring and encouraging people in your life and ask them to be part of your all-important first week of self-employment! These two conversations gave me the motivation I needed to start my week right and ease into the weekend, mentally prepared to take on my second week of solopreneurship.