3 Questions Every “Solopreneur” Should Be Asking Themselves

For the first two and a half years of running this business, I had a “solopreneur” mindset.

The reason our work was so good was because I was doing it. Only I can get things done the way they should be done. Our clients love my sense of humor. And so on.

I think it’s safe to say there was a lot of ego involved there. And ultimately, I was actually hurting my business.

It’s easy to fall into that trap, since it doesn’t look like a trap at all – it looks like a shiny trophy that says “You’re The Best!”

And maybe you are the best. But only at a couple things, just like all of us.

Now, with six months as a manager under my belt, I’ve learned a few things that I believe are important for every “solopreneur” to learn at some point in their journey. I’m not done learning yet – not even close – but maybe I’m a few places ahead on the board from where I was six months ago.

This post will go through three pivotal questions you should be asking, as well as actionable steps for answering each one.

1. What am I actually good at?

Now on the third year of Pink Robot Studios, I’ve come to realize that I had it all totally wrong. The reason our work was so good wasn’t because I was doing all of it – it’s because I’m really good at a couple things, and I was doing those things.

But there’s gaps there.

I recently hired two amazing team members here at Pink Robot Studios, and as it turns out, they’re better at filling in those aforementioned gaps. Ashley is an outstanding artist and has a natural eye for design, and Lugo has the marketing know-how and data skills to really take us to the next level.

These are skills that, truthfully, I just don’t have. I struggle to draw a convincing smiley face, and my eyes glaze over when I look at a spreadsheet.

When we spend our valuable time every week doing things we’re not absolute rockstars at, we’re robbing the absolute rockstars of the opportunity to do it. How rude of us!

And beyond that – we’re objectively giving our clients/customers a worse service.

Let’s say you own a marketing agency. You’re a killer strategist, and you’re a PR mastermind. You also learned copywriting when you started your business, because any good marketing agency needs to write good copy. But you’re not the best copywriter in the world – you’re pretty good, but not amazing – and it’s not why you got into this business.

You want everything you deliver to be outstanding. But it won’t be if there are gaps in your outstanding-ness.

How can we fix this?

Actionable Step

For one week, document exactly what you’re doing every fifteen minutes of the workday. I know this sounds like a lot, but trust me – it only takes 10 seconds each time.

At the end of the week, do an audit of your time. What did you do this week that you’re not an absolute rockstar at? Jot those items down, along with how much time you spent on it this week.

And be harsh on yourself. If it’s not something you specifically love to do and kick total ass at, put it on the paper.

Once you’ve got your list, assess this question: how can I stop doing these items? Maybe it’s hiring somebody, maybe it’s finding an automated solution, or maybe it’s restructuring your services entirely.

Whatever it is, do what needs to be done, and your business will thank you.

2. Do I have a good routine?

Time is money, folks! It’s also the world’s only truly nonrenewable resource (fossil fuels are pretty close, though).

Our brains are hardwired to recognize patterns, and associate times and locations with certain tasks. It’s a way of moving items from our conscious mind to our unconscious mind. We can harness this wiring to optimize our time, untangle the wires and get us on the fast-track to mastering our daily lives.

True story: I’ve got a killer morning routine. My Google Home alarm goes off at 8:30, then starts playing KEXP to keep me awake. Then my phone (which is across the room) alarm goes off at 8:45, and that’s my cue to get up.

Yesterday, I accidentally left my phone on my nightstand instead of across the room, and when I woke up, I fell into the trap of doomscrolling for nearly an hour.

Routines. That’s the real takeaway here. It’s important to build routines that work for you.

Let’s break down why this morning routine works for me:

  • I fall back asleep easily after waking up. To solve this, I have my Google Home narrate my calendar for the day and play some music on the radio. I also have the second alarm on my phone in case I still fall asleep.
  • I doomscroll too often when I wake up, To solve this, I put my phone across the room. That way, by the time I pick it up for the first time, I’m already up and at ’em.
  • I’m sometimes sluggish in the morning if I wake up on the wrong side of REM sleep. To solve this, I do morning stretches and push-ups as soon as I get out of bed.

You have different needs than I do, so your routine will likely be different. Assess what difficulties you face in your daily life, and create routines that specifically target those difficulties.

Actionable Step

This one is great because you can answer it at the same time you answer the first question. After you audit your time, look for patterns. Am I answering emails at particular times? Do I generally take a break at a specific time?

If you’re not seeing many patterns, or you’re seeing some wild variations in how much time you spend on each task, that may be a sign that your routine needs to change.

We should be doing our tasks in blocks.

And trust me, as someone with ADHD, that’s tough for me. But I know I gotta do it anyway. I’m not perfect at it yet, but I’m getting there, and that’s what matters.

Once you’ve audited your time and identified how to trim the fat and focus in on what you’re best at, try and create a specific routine. For example: try only answering emails every three hours. Resist the urge to click on that notification! In fact, turn them off.

While you’re at it, set up something else to do before you check your emails. You’ll be itching to see who has sent you a message, so by forcing yourself to do something before it, you can ensure it gets done.

Make it something you don’t love doing, but you have to do every day. Maybe it’s taking a quick walk at 2:45, or cleaning up your space at 4:45.

Focus in like this on every task you’ve got.

Maybe you buckle down on larger projects in the mornings, limit your meeting availability to 12-3 PM every day, and focus on smaller admin tasks from 3 to 5.

If you can stick to this routine you create, even for a week, you’ll be set. Your brain will uncross those wires and learn to expect a certain task at a certain time. It’s tough to get started, so maybe start off with only a few tasks in your routine, then expand over time.

And a bonus tip: assess your routines once a month. What’s working? What’s still an issue? Optimization is the key!

3. Am I documenting properly?

This may seem like a significantly more specific question than the other two, but it’s also significantly more important than many realize.

And unless you’ve actively sat down and planned this out in the last few months, the answer to this is probably “no.”

Why do we need to document our processes and business info? There are several answers to this, and I could go on about it for another three posts, but I’ll keep it short for now:

  • Proper documentation allows us to find gaps and wasted time in our processes.
  • If and when we hire somebody, this documentation will be crucial to their onboarding.
  • Documenting our processes ensures we never miss a step, even on our off days.
  • Documentation allows us to analyze what we really spend our time on at a deeper level.

This is crucial for any business.

Processes run everything, and they’re the number one thing our customers and clients experience when working with us.

If we can articulate our process to our clients with one hundred percent accuracy, we’ve got their attention. If we fumble over our words, or don’t go into enough detail, we’ve lost a valuable prospect.

Actionable Step

The next time you do anything for your business, write it down as you do it. Don’t do this from memory! We need to be in the moment, really taking stock of what it is we’re doing.

Remember when I mentioned the unconscious mind earlier? Turns out, that can get pretty nefarious if we don’t keep it in check.

Over the course of a few weeks, write down what it is you’re doing at any given moment – cleaning your office, setting up a new client in your system, handling turnover, etc.

I recommend using an organization tool like Notion to keep track of all these. They need to be easily accessible and editable, as well as organized in a logical way.

To make it easier in the moment, you can start these off at a high level and go into more detail the next time you do the process.

Once you’re confident you’ve gotten most of your processes written down, take an afternoon to go through them in detail. Are there areas that could be improved? Are there steps we’re missing, or steps that are unneeded?

And most importantly, are these understandable by anyone other than you? The answer to this should be yes. We need to write these down in such a way that a potential future employee can understand.

Their input is invaluable in determining areas of improvement. Not to mention, they need to know how to do this stuff too.

Some concluding thoughts

As entrepreneurs, we’ve given ourselves a golden opportunity. We get the unique privilege of building our own workplace.

We have total control over what we do every day, so when we fail to pay attention to what we’re really doing, we’re wasting this opportunity we’ve given ourselves.

Go build your perfect work day! Go take back control of your time! Go optimize your business! It’s what we do best, so let’s do it.

And don’t forget to take a break, too.

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