In front of my desk, I have a corkboard.
On this corkboard, I hung a vision board titled “Welcome to your best self,” which I created over a year ago to stay inspired and motivated. Some affirmations and statements include:
“Live your happier life, with love, be kind to yourself; clarity; commitment, connect with your purpose, create a life you love, and TAKE ACTION.”
Among these, you can also find some great quotes from the articles I cut these pieces from:
“I’ve gone back to doing something in line with my values, which is really motivating.”
“Giving up was not an option, so I gave myself the sort of patience I would have towards a loved one embarking on a major life change.”
“I’m interested in exploring how to navigate the mess that is life; how to love imperfections.”
Every single word and every single quote still resonate with me to this day, and it represents my values and beliefs.
But here’s the thing.
Creating a vision board and putting it in front of my eyes, so I can look at it every single day, is not enough to generate results and grow a fulfilling business that will help me achieve financial freedom. Taking action is.
Today I want to explore 6 common mistakes most solopreneurs make. I am guilty of them all, and so are my clients who come to me for help. Let’s take a closer look.
6 Common Solopreneur Mistakes
When I moved from a full-time employed marketing manager to a full-time self-employed solopreneur, I had to learn how to do marketing in a new way. Doing it for a company is a different game than promoting yourself and building a personal brand. I had to learn digital marketing strategies that work for a solo business owner. I read books, attended seminars, workshops, and masterclasses. I watched YouTube videos and also learned things by doing them, slowly but surely. Then I also honed my website design skills, knowing it would benefit me and my clients, as having a well-designed website is part of an effective marketing strategy. But at some point, I hit a wall. I started to feel that the more I knew, the more I didn’t know. So, instead of applying what I knew and learning along the way, I decided I needed to take more courses, read more books, and watch more tutorials. I started procrasti-learning. There was no actual action I was taking to get clients and grow my business.
From the conversations I have with other solopreneurs, I see it’s a common thread. We feel we need to know everything to show up and serve our ideal clients. But what we’re actually doing is avoiding the work.
“The magic you are looking for is in the work you are avoiding.”
I wouldn’t necessarily say that self-doubt is a mistake, but it’s definitely holding us back and falls into the subject of this article. Self-doubt can be a real dream killer. And you know what’s upsetting? That it gets worse when we scroll through social media in search of ‘inspiration’ or for more ‘knowledge’ when we procrasti-learn.
It’s the lack of action that generates more self-doubt because each day we spend doing something other than the things that will take us closer to the envisioned picture of our life and business.
“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage.” – Dale Carnegie
When self-doubt kicks in, I like to remind myself that I know something other people don’t, and that with my content and services, I want to help and inspire others. If I have something amazing to share, be it knowledge or life-changing services, why keep it to myself because of self-doubt?
The other thing I like to remind myself of is that I am among the bravest already. Those who had the courage to leave their ‘comfortable’ 9-5 job and step into the unknown but freedom-generating lifestyle, in the long run.
However, sometimes we do need someone from the outside to remind us of our greatness. I think I was stuck in ‘I can do it alone’ or ‘I don’t have money for this’ for way too long. Having a coach you can work with 1-1 brings wonders and can snap you out of your self-doubt quicker than your daily affirmations and inspiring quotes from your gurus.
3) Searching for Quick Wins
It’s pretty obvious that we want our businesses to provide us with a substantial income so we can have the freedom we have always craved. However, many solopreneurs want quick fixes and instant results without putting in work. And I’m sure it’s due to ads we see across social media telling us how to get rich in 30 days, how to grow your email list in 1 week, or how to find 10 clients in 24 hours. Not only is it exhausting, but it can also push you into self-doubt mode if you don’t achieve what they promise in the time frame they claim.
If you think that posting on social media is the way for a quick and easy win, you’re wrong.
First of all, you need to keep up with the social media pace and never-ending algorithm rule changes. If you post consistently for a week or two and then take a break, you will be pushed down to the bottom, and when you’re back, you will need to start over again. You need to remember that these people who post on social media all the time most likely have someone helping them with creating, planning, and posting these posts. It’s unsustainable in the long run if you are solo.
But a content marketing strategy, on the other hand, is something worth investing your time in. It will not provide you with immediate results, but with consistency and dedication, you will reach the point where your content will start working for you. You might say you can do the same with social media too. Sure, but let me remind you that a social media profile, page, or group is not yours. They can ban you anytime with no option to recover. So, don’t expect that posting on social media will bring you instant results. Don’t expect paid marketing to get you clients immediately if you don’t have foundations in place first. Do the work. Stay consistent and patient. And before you know it, your work will pay off.
4) Lack of Clarity
Can you imagine going shopping not knowing what you need to buy? First of all, you wouldn’t know which store to go to (grocery store, clothing, furniture?). Second, you wouldn’t know what items to look for in the store, so you would wander around like a lost child in a cornfield. And if the store assistant asked you, “How can I help you?” your response would be, “I’m looking for something.” This person would have to work really hard to figure out how to actually help you.
If you do the same in your business, that you help someone with something or you help everyone with everything, then that’s a first step for overwhelm, frustration, and eventually failure.
I cannot stress this enough how important it is to know WHO your clients are, WHAT their struggles are, and HOW you can help them overcome challenges with your OFFER.
I write more on how to identify your ideal client in THIS blog article.
Here are a few strategies that help with gaining clarity:
- Writing: As you write, you get a clear idea of what is your area of expertise and what content will help your ideal clients to find you.
- Take action: You will not find clarity just by sitting and thinking about it. Schedule a brainstorming session with yourself where you will brain dump all your ideas and make connections between them to create a map of what your business is about.
- Work with a coach: 1-1 session with a coach who will help you establish who your ideal client is and then create an irresistible offer is a game changer and will get you out of the darkness and a rabbit hole of not knowing what to do next.
5) Fear of Success
When things start turning in our favour, it’s not uncommon to experience a sense of unease. I’ve personally gone through this journey, so let me share my story with you.
A while ago, I used to write a blog in Polish, where I openly shared how my relationship with my mom had shaped my adult life. I bared my soul, being vulnerable and brutally honest. Surprisingly, my blog began gaining traction, and readers resonated with my stories, finding solace in the understanding it provided. One of my articles even won a prize in an online contest, and I received an invitation for a TV interview! (Unfortunately, I didn’t fit the age group they were looking for…)
For two years, my blog thrived, allowing me to unload my frustrations about life and relationships while helping others in the process. It was an incredible experience, but as success found its way into my life, my ego—the one tied to the old story of staying small and average—started to sabotage my newfound “fame.” It constantly questioned me, asking, “Who do you think you are, Magda?”
And what happened next?
I gradually wrote less, stopped interacting with my Facebook followers, and neglected my readers. If someone were to ask me today about my regrets in life, quitting my blog would be one of those things I’d definitely mention.
But why did I do that when things were going so well?
Well, success caught me off guard. I had become accustomed to dealing with challenges, but success was uncharted territory. I wasn’t prepared for it. Surprisingly, more often than not, success can be scarier than the possibility of failure. It’s just the peculiar way our brains are wired—always ready for the worst but not trained to celebrate and enjoy our wins and accomplishments.
I believe it is crucial to prioritise working on your mindset and staying committed to your entrepreneurial journey, even when your inner critic attempts to convince you otherwise. This aspect is just as vital for growing your business as finding your first paying clients and implementing effective marketing strategies to maintain a consistent flow of inquiries.
You can have the best strategy in the world but if your mindset isn’t up to it then you will continually sabotage yourself and hold yourself back! ~ Lema Wiffen
As a recovering perfectionist, I know how difficult it is to stick to a plan and finish what we have started. We get buried under our own ideas, covered with self-doubt, and sprinkled with overwhelming possibilities the internet can offer. We easily fall through when things get too complicated or are not bringing instant results.
Bombarded with advice from everywhere on how to run our businesses, we feel the anxiety of choice and action and start procrastinating or go back to self-destructive habits.
It almost summarises all the above points I explored earlier.
Perfectionism will keep you stuck.
Obsessing over small details in your Canva design or website page will not push you further towards your goals. Overthinking a typo in your email will only waste your precious time and will make no difference to your client anyway. Recording a 1-minute video for 60 minutes will also get you nowhere but to the abyss of self-doubt and further procrastination.
There’s no such thing as perfect. It’s only your self-imposed unattainable standards that convinced you that to show up you need to be perfect. Social media scrolling will not help you get out of the loop. Looking at other people’s ‘perfect’ posts will leave you questioning your own abilities.
Taking action is again one of the best remedies for all the challenges you are facing in your business. Enjoy the process of learning and just follow through with your goals.
DONE is better than PERFECT.
Here’s how I deal with my perfectionism:
- When I work on a client’s project, I treat my perfectionism, my high standards, as my USP. I always aim to deliver the best work, but at the same time, I leave room for improvements. Clients’ feedback always teaches me that there’s no such thing as perfect, because so often when I thought something was perfect, they wanted to make changes.
- Writing: Through my writing, I learn and enjoy the process. Some days I struggle to form a 500-word article, while other times I am in the flow to produce a 2k-word article with no problem. But my main focus is to just write. Not perfectly. Just write.
- I remind myself that perfectionism is a form of fear and also a self-sabotaging habit I created to protect myself from criticism. The roots are in my childhood. And for most of us perfectionists, we were most likely criticised a lot as kids. But we are adults now, and we are here to serve others with our amazing businesses, not to stay in hiding and be the best-kept secrets.
“Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine…” ~ Marianne Williamson.
Over the years, I noticed that it’s not just about dreaming of things. Wishful thinking will get you nowhere. I can surround myself with vision boards and inspirational quotes, attend a seminar every week, and meet successful people who would inspire me to do great things. But without action, there will be no results, and the quote I found through Chris Williamson’s profile says it best, and I will leave you with it.
“Preparing to do the thing isn’t doing the thing.
Scheduling time to do the thing isn’t doing the thing.
Making a to-do list for the thing isn’t doing the thing.
Telling people you’re going to do the thing isn’t doing the thing.
Messaging friends who may or may not be doing the thing isn’t doing the thing.
Writing a banger tweet about how you’re going to do the thing isn’t doing the thing.
Hating on yourself for not doing the thing isn’t doing the thing.
Hating on other people who have done the thing isn’t doing the thing.
Hating on the obstacles in the way of doing the thing isn’t doing the thing.
Fantasising about all of the adoration you’ll receive once you do the thing isn’t doing the thing.
Reading about how to do the thing isn’t doing the thing.
Reading about how other people did the thing isn’t doing the thing.
Reading this essay isn’t doing the thing.
The only thing that is doing the thing is doing the thing.”
So the remedy to fix all your challenges: Go and do the thing. Don’t wait. You already know what you need to know. Trust yourself. Trust the process and get out there.
You’ve got this!
You can stand out in a noisy and crowded online world and thrive as an introvert. All you need is a strategy aligned with your unique personality.
I work with Ambitious Introverted Solopreneurs who value genuine connections and want to make a heartfelt impact without feeling overwhelmed. If you’re seeking assistance in crafting compelling messaging, developing a simple yet effective marketing strategy, and want someone who will help you stay accountable for your goals, let’s meet for a Clarity Session.