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Think It's Better To Go Solo? Here's The Ugly Underbelly Of Being An Entrepreneur

And what people need to really know about going solo.

By Ellen "Jelly" McRaePublished 11 days ago 8 min read
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I'm not here to hate successful freelancers.

You know the ones? The people who keep telling you great it is on the other side. How wonderful, freeing, and lucrative the freelancing life is. And what about how you be a fool not to buy into the freelancing life?

It's so easy to become one. You don't need any money, just some mere basic skills and a passion for pushing up your sleeves.

The ones who make it look so insanely easy as they describe the decade they spent getting to this moment where they can make money whilst they sleep.

Yeah, those people.

Whilst I know it sounds like I hate those people, I don't. But I don't always believe what they're saying though. I'm always skeptical of anything that sounds too good to be true because it normally is. And I've bought into their way of life too many times to know it's not true.

As a business owner and a self-proclaimed solopreneur, I'm not going to pretend this life choice is better.

After doing this for eight years, I'm not going to pretend it doesn't have ugly parts to it. And I'm not going to stand by letting everyone think this life trumps all other forms of making money.

Because it doesn't. Here's the ugly solopreneur underbelly, and the part that aren't always perfect as people claim.

More freedom equals more money

I'm going to start with you what you came here for. Making money.

Here's a truth when it comes to making money as a business owner, or solopreneur; it's endless. You don't have a glass ceiling. You can charge what you want. There's no boss to cap your earning potential.

But this is a lie by half-truths.

Whilst it's possible to earn endless amounts of money, the key is that it's not guaranteed. Or even slightly, remotely assured the moment you turn entrepreneur.

It's the opposite.

The moment you quit your job and go all in, your start losing money. You've lost all your guaranteed earnings for the potential to earn more.

Going solo isn't often no better than gambling. Both have equal risks with zero guarantees of reward.

Freedom and money aren't aligned for solopreneurs, either. There are no rules, and no guarantees to say this freedom comes with more financial benefits.

Sure, it happens for some, but like how everyone has differing salaries, solopreneurs earn different amounts too.

Don't buy into an average freelancer salary, either.

Yes, as a solopreneur, you possess the freedom to charge whatever price you want for your producers and services.

You have the freedom to pick and choose whatever jobs and customers suit you. With such freedom, it means you can have unlimited earning potential. And that makes the average salary for a freelancer pretty damn high.

But not every business owner charges an endless amount. Nor do they have customers who buy into it. Spend five minutes on job sites like Upwork and you realise that freelancers value their work differently.

Some will charge very little, others charge half their mortgage payment.

It's on platforms like this that trick us into thinking there is demand for what we're offering. If the website has a section for what you're offering, you believe there is a market.

This, however, is an example of the potential.

What I advise getting confused about are the potential and the possibility. They're too very different things.

Potential, in the solopreneur life, is that you can earn endless amounts of money. Yet, the possibility isn't as high as people have you think.

And if it was that high, wouldn't everyone be a solopreneur?

What about the people who've done it?

I know you can name the high-flyers who defy my reality check. I can name them too.

But we have to remember the bell curve of life. Not everyone can be at the far-right end. Not everyone can make millions of dollars on an idea. You know it doesn't work like that for other professions, so why does it work here?

If you build it, the customers will come

There are fundamentally two sides to running and building any business. Create the product and market the product. Creating the product means a lot of things. It could be:

  • Literally building the product for sale
  • Securing and ordering the products for sale
  • Creating service packages
  • Creating outlines of what a service entails
  • Building the tools to deliver the products and services - the storefront, the online storefront, etc

This list could go on and on. And it could take you years and years to complete this stage of the process. Though there is a lot to the creating product side of things, it's only half of what you need to do.

You have to tell your customer your product exists and is available to them. That's what marketing is.

Some people will tell you that building is enough. Or they will focus their life on just the building side of things. Their incentive to only focus on this side of the business is because they're trying to sell you the process. Buy their eBook and find out how you can "replicate" their success.

But these people aren't showing you the full picture.

This is a classic example of how successful entrepreneurs will trap you into believing how easy it is to start a business.

The reality is that if you miss a step, or if you don't do a step properly, there's no point in having a business. You might as well not have bothered.

Welcome to the land of the liberated

Sure, there is some complete and uninterrupted freedom that comes with the solopreneur's life.

What is undeniable is that you can decide every single thing about what you do;

  • how much you work
  • how often you work
  • what you do
  • how you do it
  • what you don't do

You also create the boundaries, and the lines you're willing to cross, and you define what the peaks are in your success.

Yes, it's pretty damn fun when you first choose to take an early lunch break, because it's 11 in the morning and you're staring. Or the moment when you skip work for a movie in the middle of the week.

It's pretty awesome.

But so what? Really?

Unless you've worked for a boss who doesn't let you take a poo without consulting them first, the novelty of this liberation wears off pretty quickly.

When you have that much freedom, it becomes your new norm. And after a while, you forget what the other life was like and the upside of this seems irrelevant.

Liberation isn't much fun if you're not making money, by the way.

It's not that much fun taking time off when you don't have enough money to enjoy your time away. You can't take a day off to go to the movies when you haven't earned enough to pay for the movie tickets.

It's an example of how far you can take liberation. It helps you realise there's something to accountability, rules, and structure of the traditional workplace.

When you have these in your working life, it means you can keep being a solopreneur forever.

You'll never work for the man again

I've said this a few times in my tenure as a solopreneur; I'm never going back to traditional work. You couldn't pay me to work for someone else again.

And that people who for a boss are chumps.

Yeah, I've regretted saying that by the way. I did end up working for someone else over five years ago. Boy, I ate my words the day I started that job.

Yet, at the time, I found an opportunity I couldn't resist. And, as I was transitioning from website designer to writer, I realised you don't always succeed at everything you try.

I'm sorry to say, but the solopreneur life may not work out for you. You may find you can't sustain the insane working hours that come with success hunting.

Or you may find that you're not good enough to compete with your competition.

Or you might discover how hard it is to do one small part of the process you have to master. This is an endless list.

But it's very real that your solopreneur career may come crashing down around you at any time. And the reasons might be both in and out of your control.

And if this happens to you, working for someone else may be what you need to do pay the bills. You know, so you can live?

If you've already taken the hard stance of never returning to employed word, welcome to a confronting reality. My guess is you'll find the transition back to normal employment incredibly tough.

Going solo is easier than working for the man

And to sum up, the biggest lie of all is the falsity that solo life is actually easier than working for someone else.

We all know the positives of going solo, which is what most people like to focus on.

These include working in your pajamas whenever you like. Setting your own working hours, crazy or sane.

Playing music as loudly as you like as you dance around your office.

Accepting jobs or declining as the business whims allow you.

And the glorious lack of an overbearing boss, micromanaging your time and spirit.

Though these are fabulous upsides, it doesn't undo the fact the hardest job you will ever have is working for yourself.

I've tried to think of all the reasons why it's harder. Sometimes the work itself, the day-to-day tasks, aren't that much different. Sometimes the pressure is less, and sometimes it's more than when working for someone else. Somedays, you could fool yourself into thinking it's just the same.

But when I try to describe what's hard about it, I always come back to loneliness.

You rarely have anyone to lean on when the times are tough. You have no one to work through problems with.

You can't divide the workload unless you hire or pay someone else to do it.

And if you take a day off, it's just you to pick up the slack. No one else is going to cover you.

Working for yourself, working for the man, it's all work. And don't let anyone fool you into thinking differently.

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About the Creator

Ellen "Jelly" McRae

Writes about romanceships (romance + relationships) | Loves to talk about behind the scenes of being a solopreneur on The Frolics | Writes 1 Lovelock Drive | Discover everything I do and share here: www.ellenjellymcrae.com

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