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Thriving Solopreneurs Reveal the Best Decisions They Made When Launching Their Businesses

Topic: Solopreneur | Comments (1)

Posted on June 15, 2010 by Kelli Wall

By Larry Keltto

On my Web site I have a feature called “Featured Soloist.” Its purpose is to get a glimpse of how other solopreneurs operate their small businesses and to learn from their experiences.

One of the questions I ask of the soloists each week is: “What’s the best thing you did when starting your business?” Below is how some of the “Featured Soloists” answered the question. The responses are representative of the business owners I have worked with over the past 17 years, and as you read, try to identify if the solopreneurs occupy any common ground.

Barbara Milgram, owner of Pomegranate Planning, Los Angeles: Despite the conventional wisdom and advice of many people, I actually did not have a master plan. This turned out to be more helpful than I would have thought. Without something etched in stone, I was able to remain flexible so I could evolve and adjust to new realities, aligning my talent and interests with the marketplace as it did its own zigs and zags.

Linda Lopeke, owner of Lexicorp Services Inc., Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Every contract was set up in a way that gave me absolute creative control and ownership of the intellectual property created. And, after one of the early clients defaulted on a critical deal leaving me financially stranded, I amended our standard contract so that I was always paid in advance. That ended all worrying about cash flow. Our corporate lawyer thought I was insane. But it’s really all in how you position these things with clients.

Bill Dwight of Palo Alto, Calif., owner of FamZoo.com, an online family banking application: I opened up the initial unpolished application to a group of “charter” families very early on, while simultaneously resisting the prevailing “common wisdom” of throwing it out there too early to the general public.

Laura Petrolino, owner of Flying Pig Communications in Tampa, Fla.: I reached out to those around me and offered to help them with their businesses in any way I could. I worked to form coalitions with fellow business owners, create a referral train and donate my services in little ways.

Heather Claus, owner of 365 Days of Everything in Wilmington, North Carolina, who started out by offering sewing classes: I did what felt right to me. In 1996 NO ONE thought online sewing classes would work. I proved them very wrong.

Laurie Gay, owner of BluePrint Balance in Atlanta: I hired several different people to help me get clear on exactly how I was going to make this thing work, and exactly what I wanted it to look like. You need support, and if your resources are limited, there are a lot of very good, free options, too.

Shayna Walker, owner of Williamsburg Wedding Design in Williamsburg, Va.: I immediately launched my own small bridal shows. As events they were well-received but not spectacular in terms of attendance. But the vendor relationships I made during the production and publicity of those shows were invaluable.

Did you find anything in common among the soloists’ answers?

What I take away is that there is no 10-step process, no foolproof system, no conventional wisdom or common path that works for everyone. Sometimes I wish there was! It would make solopreneurship a lot easier!

Ultimately, you have to make decisions that fit your personality and the unique characteristics of your small business and its market. I recommend that you swiftly run away from anyone who tells you there’s only one way to launch your solopreneur enterprise.

Larry Keltto owns TheSolopreneurLife.com, which provides resources for aspiring, new and established solopreneurs. Since 1993 he has been providing marketing, communications and coaching services to solopreneurs.