In my line of work, I’ve met hundreds, if not thousands of solopreneurs—business owners who work for themselves. Alone. Solo.
Many people today say they want to work for themselves.
“I wanna be my own boss!”
It’s not all fun and games.
When you are the one in charge, the buck stops on your desk. Every time.
As a glorified freelancer, every mistake is your fault even when it’s not. Every problem is your job to fix even if you didn’t cause it.
This story might change the way you look at a “bossless” life.
I once worked with a vibrant, committed social worker who had a thriving practice. From afar, it appeared that she had it all. A career she loved, a full book of patients, a nice office in a cool part of town. Yep, she was livin’ the dream.
But she was broke, rarely took vacations, and struggled to pay rent.
How is that possible?
When she started out, she did everything by herself. Paying bills, submitting invoices, even cleaning her small office. As she grew, she hired down on their luck relatives to help her out.
She had no systems or standard policies and trusted her employees/family members to do the necessary work. Soon, she became “too busy” to inspect their job performance. Things went well for a while, until they didn’t.
Why? Her blind spot.
She had a trusting nature and an open heart, which were perfectly suited for her chosen profession. Her compassion was legendary. And so was her soft touch. She couldn’t say no to anyone. Her friends, children, and relatives all came to her with their problems, which were frequently monetary. She said “yes” to everyone, and never held them accountable to pay her back.
Not surprisingly, her staff/family began to cut corners. They took advantage of her kind nature, and soon her books were a mess. Multiple insurance companies had not been paying her in a timely manner, past due invoices were not being submitted properly, and expense tracking was nonexistent.
It was easy to see that her team was sabotaging the business. Easy, that is, for everyone but her. She was unwilling to acknowledge the truth surrounding her.
Her blind spot.
She worked for years to put herself through college and graduate school as a single mother. Now, she finally had the practice she’d dreamed of, and was thisclose to losing it all.
Initially, I couldn’t get her to see the problem. Before I could illuminate her blind spot, I had to bring order to chaos. The situation was crying out for systems, so I brought in a new employee who created and automated processes to track income, expenses, and insurance reimbursements.
Within 2 weeks, we uncovered a few“leaks”. Some were clearly unethical. Still, she wasn’t willing to see the truth. Her employees were stealing from her.
Light bulb moment.
When her rent check bounced a few weeks later, she could no longer deny it. She had enabled this behavior, and it was up to her to clean up the mess.
It wasn’t easy, and we certainly had our share of difficult conversations around it, but she is nowfree from incompetent and dishonest employees, and enjoys an easily monitorable dashboard she can access at any time to “checkup” on her practice’s financial health.
I also worked to free her from the common belief held by so many newly minted solopreneurs that she HAD to be available to her patients 24/7 or they would go elsewhere.
Less than 3 years after we began working together, she was able to purchase the office building where she works, and will have it paid off in 5 years. She now has additional practitioners working for her, providing enough passive income so she can take regular vacations and earn money while she travels!
My client started her career as a Solopreneur. But she didn’t find the freedom she initially sought, until she became a Business Owner.That gave her freedom from her business and enabled her to build her business.
And now she can truly say that she works for herself.