8 Things I’ve Learned in My First 8 Weeks as a Solopreneur

Photo by Jon Kline

Photo Credit: Jon Kline

After a brief hiatus to “survive” my transition to solopreneurial life … I’m pleased to announce the blog is BACK. And I can’t wait to share what’s coming up!

It’s official. Eight weeks ago, I said “goodbye” to my cubicle and “hello” to who-knows-what. I had some plans in place when I departed my day job, but I had no idea if they would prove feasible. 

As it turns out, they have. Just not in the ways I expected. (And if you’re curious about that, check out my interim business site.)

Along the way,  many people have asked me if I like this “self-employment,” which I prefer to call “entrepreneurship.” The answer is, “YES.” A thousand times, “YES.” A million copper-plated, wind-up steam-bots all thundering in unison, “YES!”

While I could go on about the wonderful, baffling, and inspiring things that have happened these fifty-six days . . . maybe I’ll save us both some screen fatigue (and an onslaught of steam-bots) by just giving the highlights. Eight of them, to be precise.

8) Fear sits one desk over. 

Just because you’ve given up office politics doesn’t mean you’ve given up officemates. Your newest companion might be that coworker no one likes to see coming: Anxiety. If you’re depending on your own wits to find employment, chances are you’re bunking up with this office buddy whether you like it or not. But like all coworkers, this one doesn’t have to run your life. Say “hi.” Pour him some coffee. And get back to work. Because Anxiety is really quite lazy. When you get into your zone, he gets out of Dodge.

7) Working with clients can be fun.

True confessions here: I’ve never liked client work. For most of my working life, clients have baffled me, frustrated me, even brought me to tears. And expectations differed wildly with little willingness (on either side) to meet in the middle. Not so now. Thus far, each of the clients I’ve worked with has been a warm, funny, sincere and genuine human being seeking to do their best for their clients. How could I not love helping them be their best?

6) Cats are amazing office mates.

Friends have asked me if I get lonely working from my home all day. But how could I, when I share my office with two fabulous felines who sleep through important meetings, demand lunch breaks even when I can’t take them and always want cuddles at 2 PM—right when I’m frantically writing notes from a meeting? My cats are happier with more human contact, and I’m definitely happier when covered in fur. No lint rollers required at this gig!

5) This is your chance to try something new.

One of the main reasons I went solo was to regain the flexible lifestyle I prize above (almost) all else. And with that flexibility comes an openness to opportunity—even ones I would never have taken before. Like taking yoga, which I started taking last month with the awesome Charity Harvey at Aerial Art MKE. Or Ayurvedic eating habits, which I’m also experimenting with. Neither were on my radar when I handed in my resignation. Now, I can’t get enough.

4) Never say never.

When I quit my job, I had defined expectations of the kind of clients I’d work with and the kind of work I’d do. To my (pleasant) surprise, I found myself getting requests for work—just not exactly what I had planned on. At least not quite. But why rock the boat? If the opportunities are interesting, stimulating, and right in my zone of ability to help, why should I not pursue them.?Because now I can. Now I have the freedom not to say “never.”

3) Weekends are for recharging. No, really!

I used to spend Saturday and Sunday frantically doing all the work I couldn’t do during the week. The kind of work I really wanted to do freelance but didn’t have the freedom to. Now that I’m putting in long hours during the week on that work, I’ve started taking a full day off on the weekends just to recharge and spend time with my husband. Come Monday I can be smarter, sharper, and more calm for my clients, which is a win-win for everyone.

2) You are not alone on this journey.

When you’re alone most of the day, it’s easy to think you’re alone, period. But you’re not. There are dozens, hundreds, even thousands of other women rocking the solo journey—and each feels and perceives the same challenges and joys as I do, at different times. So why not lean on them and share my strength? The more amazing women entrepreneurs I meet, the more excited I become follow my own journey. Truly there is strength in numbers.

1) When you step out, things happen.

If there were one thing I could say to anyone considering this lifestyle leap, it would be this: “The things you dream of can’t happen—and won’t—until you make the first move.” For so long I treaded water, hoping that the sea would part, when I really just need to suck up some air, plunge beneath the surface, and trust that my foot would touch a dry bed. Things don’t happen to us. They happen through us. And it all starts with a step.

What about you? What did learn in your early days as an entrepreneur? Or, what fears do you have that might be holding you back from taking a more DIY approach to life? 

19 thoughts on “8 Things I’ve Learned in My First 8 Weeks as a Solopreneur

  1. Thank you for writing this! I find myself in a similar position (lost my full-time job last summer, trying to muster up the gumption to actually start freelancing), and your post has appeared at exactly the right time! It’s very encouraging 🙂

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    • Thank you, Bethany! It’s challenging and rewarding each and every day. I’m thankful for the opportunity to take every step on this journey. What are you writing these days?

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  2. I started my journey into soloprenuer when I became a mom. It’s a little scary at first, but as you transition it’s fantastic. I always love that I can now work around my kids schedule and still be there when they need me, and if your cats are as attention seeking as my kids, I’m sure you’ll be able to relate. 🙂

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    • Oh my, Susan! I can so relate! And thanks for recognizing the parallels between cats and kids. I’m always hesitant to make the analogy for fear of offending parents … but I’ve cared for enough children in my time to notice there are definitely some similarities. 🙂

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  3. Great article! My dog is the best office mate ever and weekends no longer exist, but I think it is all worth it. I just can not see myself ever going back to a 9 to 5 cubicle life. Plus, I don’t think my kids would like it at all.

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  4. This is such a great article, especially for the newbie solopreneur. I find my dog to be the best officemate ever! And I can never see myself return to the 9 to 5 cubicle world. Plus, I don’t think my kids would ever want that either.

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    • Daphne, that’s a great point! Think how much more time we get to be around our families than we did before? My husband was working from home this morning, too, and I paused to think how thankful I am that I’m at home with him today–even if we’re working in separate areas of the house on separate businesses–instead of being lonely in a cubicle!!!!

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  5. Great post, Lisa! (I found your blog through Linked In, btw). I actually followed in your footsteps and am now doing freelance graphic/multimedia design. I’m only about a month in and can totally relate to everything you talk about here. Cheers to success on our terms, reclaiming our weekends and 4-legged office mates!

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    • Jennie, thanks for stopping by! Did you used to work at Derse, by chance? I knew a Jennie Denton there … And yes, cheers to our mutual success building a life we (actually) love!

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