Survival as a Solopreneur: 7 Toughest Things About Working Alone — and How to Conquer Them

By: Laura Gayle

No more strict hours or stuffy business attire: You are your own boss and can adhere to any schedule and dress code you want. Creating your own company and working alone certainly has some enticing perks, but there are also some risks. Pay can fluctuate, and taxes become more complex. Often even the lack of company-backed benefits can seem too daunting for many women to strike out on their own. With careful planning and strict budgeting, though, many women are able to take on the solopreneur life and happily live out their dreams.

I Think I’m Alone Now…

It can be fun working alone for the first week, maybe even the first month, but eventually the loneliness may start to set in. Not having a co-worker to break up the monotony of the day can be difficult. It helps to have friends at work to discuss ideas, share successes, or even just commiserate about life. 

Working alone can be lonely at times, but there are ways to help keep you connected. Keep your existing friendships strong and rely on them to help keep your day moving. Branch out and meet new people, maybe even other women who work alone and understand what you’re going through. If it’s possible in your home, having a pet can help keep the loneliness at bay; a furry friend is still someone to pass the time with.

Fluctuating Income

When you first start out, it might seem that all of your money is going out, with very little return. But if you believe you have a good service or product and believe in what you are doing, this will eventually change.

When money does come in, though, it may not be steady, and your financial picture might look like feast or famine. Expect large sums to come all at once for a big order, and then a meager trickling of income at other times. It can be hard to maintain your normal lifestyle with an unpredictable paycheck. 

This is when your saving and budgeting savvy needs to go into overdrive. Always stick to a budget and make sure you have enough in savings to get you through the slower times. Early on in your company’s life, try to avoid large personal purchases, if possible, to maintain your savings safety net.

Missing Those Big Corporate Benefits

One of the perks of working for a big corporation is that the company helps to fund employee benefits. Whether it’s healthcare coverage, a short-term disability program, or company-funded retirement plan, benefits offered by big corporations can really add up. When you’re working as a solopreneur, suddenly you’re responsible for footing the bill — and costs can stack up quickly. 

Shop around for the best health insurance package that suits your needs. Healthcare companies are incredibly competitive and want to work with you in finding the right coverage. Start your own IRA or 401K to help set aside retirement funds on your own. You may not get the benefit of a company match, but at least you’ll have the beginnings of a nest egg for retirement.

Keeper of Secrets

Your entire business plan is at your own fingertips, which is both exciting and terrifying. Be sure to keep your company's secrets, documentation, and precious client information both safe and accessible. Utilizing cloud storage is the perfect way to have documents available at a moment's notice, but also keep them safe from prying eyes. Cloud storage can be accessed from almost anywhere in the world with just a simple internet connection.

Relocating Your Office

Working for yourself, you have the luxury of setting up your new office anywhere in the world. You are no longer tied to a corporate office that must stay within your 30-minute commute time. Select your new city carefully, as it could offer some major benefits to your company and your bottom line. Some up-and-coming cities, like Kansas City, for example, boast short commute times coupled with low monthly rent. This combination represents a desirable climate for many first-time business owners.

High Startup Costs

You've laid the groundwork and have a solid plan for executing your own startup. You know how much initial costs will be, down to the penny. Good for you! Unfortunately, starting and owning your company can come with some hidden expenses that can drive the cost of starting your own company even higher. 

Simple things like having a desk big enough to spread out your work or finding tech help when your computer crashes can cost you a hefty and surprising chunk. Be sure to maintain a cushion to pay for such unexpected expenses, and remember to keep all your receipts for possible tax deductions at the end of the year.

Self-Employment Taxes

Yes, starting a business is expensive, with hefty overhead costs. Luckily, a good portion of what you spend on your business may be tax-deductible. The federal tax code allows numerous deductions that people starting their own business or working from home are entitled to take. Furniture, office supplies, computers, or communication services, like the monthly costs of phone and internet, can ultimately be deducted. Calculating tax deductions for your end-of-year return can be complicated, though, so it’s best to use an online service to keep you organized. Tax calculators can help give you an idea of what is and isn’t deductible, and can help you predict what your year-end payment (or refund) might be.


Laura+Gayle+circle+headshot.jpg

Laura Gayle is a full-time blogger who has ghostwritten more than 350 articles for major software companies, tech startups, and online retailers. Founder of the Business Woman Guide, she created her site to be a trusted resource for women trying to start or grow businesses on their own terms. She has written about everything from crowdfunding and inventory management to product launches, cybersecurity trends, web analytics, and innovations in digital marketing.

My Self-Employment Success Story: How I Quit Corporate To Work for Myself

By: Jill Beirne Davi

Since paying off $30,000 six years ago, I still use credit sparingly, and I didn’t take out any loans to fund the start-up of my business. Instead, I created a separate savings account called “Investments” to use as working capital for the business. I used that money to educate myself on the basics of starting a consulting business, as well as for things like my website and programs that taught me how to launch and run a business. Overall, my strategy was to pay for a lot of the major upfront costs in cash from my day job.

So I doubled down and focused on attracting more clients, to reach my tipping point faster. But once I stopped treating my consulting like a hobby, I got nervous. I had trouble promoting my services beyond word-of-mouth referrals, and I was afraid to follow up with people, breaking into a sweat when discussing my fees. But I knew I had to conquer those fears if I wanted to work for myself, so I hired a coach of my own to help me build those skills.

To attract clients, I worked around the clock. I hustled, but it was exciting! I woke up about an hour earlier than I had to every morning, and by 7 a.m. I was at my computer with my green tea, either writing posts on my blog or content for my workshops, emailing clients, asking for speaking engagements or studying up on how to run a business. I even took 8 a.m. client calls before showering, and put in a full day of work at my corporate job! I’d teach workshops, and speak or meet with clients on nights and weekends.

After eight months of really focusing on building my practice, though, it became clear that I had to choose. I essentially had two full-time, demanding jobs, and I was burning out. Clients were reaching out, but I didn't have the time to take them on. I simply didn’t have enough energy to ride two bikes any longer. It was decision time.

My Last Day at My "Real" Job

I crunched the numbers to see if I was ready. Overall, I was running a pretty lean machine. Most of my work was done remotely out of our home office, so I didn’t have to worry about permanent office space. As for health insurance, my husband and I talked about private insurance, but it made the most sense for me to be covered under his plan. I agreed to pay the difference coming out every month. I also applied for professional liability insurance, which can be paid in a lump sum annually. And I calculated how much I would need to put aside every month for retirement. Since I was cutting back, the contribution would be smaller than I contributed in the past at first but would grow over time.

The day I left corporate, I was definitely excited but sad. It was hard to leave a job that I’d called home for six years. When my coworkers asked if I was taking time off, I laughed. “Time off?” I said. “No way. I have a full schedule next week!”

It was definitely a rush to open my laptop that first self-employed Monday morning to a full schedule and no boss. I wrote my next blog posts, prepared for a radio interview later in the week, and had three client calls and a consultation with someone who wanted to hire me.

Financially, self-employment isn’t as drastic of a change as I once thought it might be. The hardest part is creating a system to manage my cash flow so that I can forecast what I’m making every month. I use Excel to plan out incoming client payments and outgoing expenses every month (including what I pay myself). That way I can see all in one place what I need to earn each month. Once I reach that number for one month, any extra carries into the next month. I still pay the same bills I was paying when I was working full time, including the phone, cable, utilities, groceries, parking and part of the mortgage.

What has changed quite a bit is my "fun money" fund, meaning my allowance for personal expenses, like getting a haircut or buying clothes. For now, it's half of what it used to be, which means I really have to watch what I’m spending more closely than before I left. But I’m at peace with making sacrifices until my income is more consistent. As long as I can get my nails done every now and again, I’m good for now while my practice grows. I expect to be profitable by April of next year.

The biggest challenge for me now that I’m self-employed is keeping my confidence up during the natural business ebbs and flows, like during the summer months when people are away on vacation and the phone never seems to ring. I’ve found that when self-doubt creeps in, it helps to reach out to other self-employed friends, or my amazing husband, and ask for a kind ear to listen.

So far, it’s been a joy, and I don’t see myself going back to corporate any time soon. The flexibility to create my day and really make a difference make the financial ups and downs completely worth it.

This article originally appeared on https://www.forbes.com/sites/learnvest/2013/10/07/my-self-employment-success-story-how-i-quit-corporate-to-work-for-myself/#43caa0b63bee


jill beirne davis.jpg

Jill Beirne Davi is the founder of Abundant Finances, a service that helps you get yourself out of debt and start amassing abundant savings in record time (without deprivation or eating cat food for dinner). For more helpful money strategies to turn your finances around, visit abundantfinances.com.