Several months ago, I left a secure “nine to five” job in professional services to strike out on my own as a business development writer and make more time for my creative work. I was told that I was “living the dream” by quitting my job, but the initial weeks felt more like a nightmare. I started from scratch, relying on a paid consultant to advise me on first steps and joining a networking group so I could learn from others and at least pretend that I knew what I was doing, i.e., “fake it until you make it.” But I didn’t really understand what I would need to succeed as a “solopreneur,” until three words popped up while I was reading a short blurb on self-employment: drive, discipline, and desire — alliterative and also easy to remember as the 3-Ds.
The 3-Ds are the basic ingredients that support me in my new endeavor.
My drive has come from setting small goals that add up. Write articles every week that I post on Medium.com or LinkedIn to attract attention and develop a “portfolio” of my writing. Call, email, or have coffee with contacts in my personal network to spread the word about my new business. Talk to other entrepreneurs, ask questions, and get feedback on my ideas. My ultimate goal is to create a pipeline of prospects that will eventually lead to paying clients.
In the past, discipline had been provided by the requirements of my job, including office hours, deadlines, and the projects I was assigned to work on. As a solopreneur, discipline had to come from within. I realized I needed to create a routine that worked for me, one that currently involves: writing in the morning; scheduling meetings and calls as early as possible to get active; and avoiding the temptation to spend all day in my pajamas. I also reward myself when I accomplish a goal by reading or writing something unrelated to work or getting out of my home office.
Desire gets me through the day when I’m tempted to surf the internet or watch TV. I remind myself that this is the path I have chosen: to be able to pick and choose the work I want to take on and still have time for my creative writing. On days when I feel sorry for myself or am tempted to quit, I return to that initial passion that made solopreneurship such an exciting proposition. I also remind myself that I will not end up living in a refrigerator box on the street. If I do, at least I will have gotten there on my own terms.
The 3-Ds bring my vision to life, but if I feel like I’m flagging in any of the above, I ask for help. “Solo” does not mean alone and, if you’re like me, you’ll be surprised to discover how many people are willing to support you and your dream.