This post was originally published in January of 2015. People seem to like it, so I share it from time to time.
A different kind of annual report
Hark! The New Year is upon us, and all the businesses that are still in business can take a deep breath as they analyze the ebbing and flowing they’ve endured in 2014. For your sake, I hope there’s been much more flowing than ebbing.
Of course, your company’s progress will be reported in a flow chart, which will put you way ahead of the game. If your comptroller ever produces an ebb chart, run for the hills!
Since I don’t have a comptroller, to help me with 2014 annual report for 1SmartPuppy, I called the vet. She was of no help whatsoever.
After giving the matter much careful consideration I decided that instead of a traditional annual report, I would come clean and make a few business confessions.
Confession #1 – I stole the title of this blog post
Yes, I admit it, I stole the title from Groucho Marx’s “Memoirs of a Mangy Lover,” published in 1962.
I had remembered the book title as “Confessions of a Mangy Lover,” but my memory was incorrect. Still, I didn’t think anyone would be interested in my memoirs (I certainly wouldn’t), so I stuck with “Confessions. “
In retrospect, I guess I only stole 1/3 of the title. Maybe the judge will only throw 1/3 of the book at me.
Confession #2 – I’m not really an entrepreneur
My business is incorporated and I own 100% of it, so I must be an entrepreneur, right?
Entrepreneurs start a business to make it grow, with the idea that someday it will be worth a lot as an entity or even an investment; something they can sell that will continue beyond them.
Many people who start their own business are simply self-employed. They have found something they enjoy doing and that they are good at, and they prefer to work for themselves rather than someone else.
After decades of thinking I was an entrepreneur, in 2014 it struck me that I actually am just self-employed. My business is me, and I don’t expect it to endure beyond me.
Understanding this very basic fact was very liberating, because it allowed me to enjoy what I was doing without setting unreasonable goals or demanding of myself that I behave like an entrepreneur. Honestly, I don’t want to be a key person of influence or live the 4-hour work week. I just want to be the best copywriter and content strategist I can be.
Today, there are so many people who are self-employed there is even a new term for it: solopreneur.
Confession #3 – I like being a solopreneur, because there is less laundry
One of the great things about being a solopreneur is that there are plenty of trainers, mentors, and coaches out there to show you how to build a successful business as a solopreneur.
These kinds of online resources didn’t exist when I first became self-employed. Honestly, the mentoring that’s available makes this a great time to “do your own thing” (stay tuned, “groovy” will be coming right up) especially if you find someone who really can help you.
As for there being less laundry, yes, it’s nice (for me) to start writing at 6:30 a.m., before I get dressed for the day. And if I’m not going out to meet a client or prospect, every day is casual dress day.
Hey, this solopreneur thing is pretty good!
Confession #4 – On the other hand, being a solopreneur is a bit like walking a tightrope
As a solopreneur, you’re the boss. You’re also the marketing department, the sales department, customer service, and accounting. And in what sometimes seems like it must be your spare time, you do the work people pay you to do.
There’s also a bit of a conundrum to it. You do a bunch of marketing to fill the pipeline. You close some deals. You do some work. And while you’re busy doing the work, your pipeline is emptying because you don’t have the time to market your business.
Finding the balance that keeps work flowing in may be instinctive to some, but it’s not for me. After many years at this, I’m still trying to perfect it.
Without that balance you’re walking a tightrope between feast and famine, heaven and hell, Hollywood and Vine! Well, you get the idea. You may find yourself finishing a good stretch of work only to realize there’s nothing coming in. The safety net is how much is in your bank account today.
Confession #5 – This may not be for everyone, but…
The life of a solopreneur may not be for everyone, but it is the life for me. The prospect of a full-time job seems too confining to me. And though I won’t make the millions I might have made as a successful entrepreneur, I get along very well and take pride in the work I do for my clients.
Thanks for reading my 2014 annual report. I thoroughly expect 2015 will be another good year, and I wish you all the best.