(and one surprising thing you don’t)
29th April 2016
At the time of writing, I’ve been a solopreneur for seven, thrilling months, but I’d been seriously thinking about quitting my job and flying solo for three years before I actually handed in my notice. In that time, I did lots of research about what was needed to be successful when working for myself. Here I share my take on the essentials.
First, you need a freedom fund. I knew that when I left my job, I would also be leaving my regular pay cheque and my income was going to fall, at least in the short term. I thought it would be a tragedy to make the break only to be forced back into employment because my money ran out faster than business took off. So I built up a freedom fund with enough money to cover my living expenses for several months as well as the money I would need to set up on my own. I took a two-pronged approach – saving for my freedom fund whilst at the same time, minimising my expenses.
Second, you need unshakeable self-belief. I knew that sooner or later, I would hit a problem. With sufficient self-belief, a problem is just a challenge that can be overcome – an opportunity to learn something new. Without self-belief, a problem becomes a brick wall and evidence that you are not cut out to be your own boss! Even though I’ve known since primary school that I wanted to work for myself “someday”, it took me a long time to develop the self-belief that enabled me to leave my job and go for it.
One thing you don’t need
So what about that surprising thing you don’t need? Conventional wisdom says if you’re going to quit your job and follow your dreams, you have to have “a plan”.
I disagree and here’s why.
I spent three years trying to come up with “a plan” but couldn’t find one that I thought would work. I eventually handed in my notice knowing that I had a three month notice period and hoping that I would come up with a plan during those three months. On the day that I left, I had some rough ideas, and I knew the immediate next steps I needed to take, but that was all. Had I waited until I had a plan, I would have probably spent all my time planning and never got started.
The no-plan-plan turned out to be a pretty good strategy. Within a few weeks, it became apparent that my original ideas weren’t going to work and I needed to change tack. I discovered this a lot sooner by taking action than I ever would have done had I kept on planning. Instead, I was able to learn what didn’t work and move swiftly on.
So my advice to potential solopreneurs would be don’t waste time planning. Instead know the next step you need to take and do that. Then decide on the next step after that and do that. Taking action (even small action) means you are moving forwards, even if it’s just learning what doesn’t work. Planning is often just an excuse for procrastination. Take action instead!