Being a solopreneur or entrepreneur working alone is a roller coaster by itself. Add to this the introversion-related struggles, and you can easily understand how challenging it can become.
I am sure you would write down a long list of challenges you face. My clients and I have talked about them extensively during our sessions over the years.
I have come to identify a few patterns in most of them. So, I will now share the 7 most common challenges introverted solopreneurs and entrepreneurs working alone have to deal with.
Some of them are personal challenges and others are purely business ones. However, they are interconnected, meaning a personal struggle as an introverted person may create a challenge in your personal business.
- Multitasking & lack of focus.
- Lack of business niche & the right business model.
- Slow, not steady or even no business growth.
- Focus on delivery & lack of any business development / marketing
- Isolation & disconnection.
- Work-life balance.
- Fear of inadequacy or failure.
Let me elaborate on each one of them.
#1 Multitasking & lack of focus
As a solopreneur or entrepreneur working alone, you know what it’s like to multitask. Since you most probably don’t have any team behind you or someone else to rely on or delegate tasks, you often find yourself doing all sorts of things for your business: from sales and marketing to accounting and managing your finances.
And these tasks come on top of delivering your service to your clients. Your day probably seems a little chaotic no matter how hard you try to stay focused on what matters most (um, your core work) and schedule things. Multitasking and lack of focus bring time management issues and loss of all control and prioritization.
At the end of the day (literally), you look at your to-do list and you see you haven’t accomplished much. Even worse, you haven’t accomplished the most important tasks, most of the time. The ones that can help you grow your business. Then you become demotivated and lose your confidence. You feel you don’t have what it takes to reach your goals.
However, living a life that is chaotic because of multitasking (not to add your personal and social life, too) can make you feel tired and unsatisfied. Your energy is drained (more so an introvert) and feel miserable.
It’s true, been there, done that! You can’t go on like this day after day after day. At the end of the day, you will compromise your health. Poor health is the root of many problems. It’s like a rabbit hole. Once you get in (um, multitasking puts you deep inside, to be honest), you can’t get out. Instead, you go deeper and deeper only to reach the bottom soon. I have some good news, though!
Based on my own experience, multitasking does not exist. OK, you may try to work on 5 different tasks at the same time, believing you multitask. But it doesn’t work that way. You don’t actually perform at your best, jumping from making payments to creating content and from talking to clients and delivering your services to interact on your business’s social media profiles. Your productivity is very low and you don’t work effectively nor efficiently.
Although I will talk about fixing your mindset (and restoring your sanity) further below, let me hint at something. Because your work independently and got no one to rely on for help, there is no other way around it than to ask for extra help. That is to outsource some of your non-essential tasks (like your accounting or marketing) to a pro who can help deliver on them. Nowadays, there are all sorts of solutions, some of which are affordable even for a solopreneur.
Let me give you a personal example: until a few years ago, every June I started putting “declare my income tax” on my to-do lists. Days and weeks went by and I couldn’t cross it off. I knew I had to do it but lack of time (so, I thought) and procrastination (I have other things to do!) kept holding me back. Knowing I had to do this kept putting pressure on me. I dreaded the moment I would be forced to do it (because of the deadlines).
That extra anxiety, for something that was not essential to my work, made my energy levels drop very fast every day. Until I decided to take meaningful action! I outsourced all my financing and taxation tasks to a proper accounting firm, via their mobile app, without too much interaction.
Now when the time comes, I buy the package, send the details and let them deal with my income statements. To be honest, I would pay more if I knew what a burden I let go of my shoulders. One task and a lot of anxiety less.
#2 Lack of business niche & the right business model
Way too often solopreneurs and entrepreneurs working alone face growth issues with their businesses (I will elaborate on that further down). You may not have sales or news clients coming in. Or you have only a few that can’t help you make ends meet. You often wonder if there is something wrong with your or your business. Unfortunately, I’ve seen many professionals quit after a while. They believe they are not cut for business or they don’t have what it takes to reach their goals. Sometimes, they feel their business idea or the way they have built their business is wrong.
Well, the latter is true. I wouldn’t say wrong per se. It is just the way you executed your idea that is not the appropriate one. In most of these cases, I find that there are two things to blame: no business niche and no business model (or the least appropriate one). Let me explain!
The lack of a business niche means you haven’t worked on your targeting thoroughly. And it’s OK. It happens to most professionals, even big businesses that fail notoriously. If you target everyone because (I know) you are just starting out and need revenues, chances are the clients won’t come. Going general or even worse generic will hardly get you far. The more targeted your business, operations and marketing are, the higher the chances to reach your business goals. You need a methodology to work on your targeting the proper way and make sure you are not just hoping for revenues out of thin air. I will introduce you to my (easy and simple) way of fixing your targeting in the next section.
So, targeting is one essential thing for business growth as a solopreneur or entrepreneur working alone. The other crucial thing is having the right business model. By that, I mean to structure your business from start to finish (sales) the right way: have the right targeting, crafting a USP (Unique Selling Proposition = what differentiates you) that is solid and speaks directly to the minds AND hearts of your audience, calibrate and align your services based on the above and delivering your service in an impeccable way. Easier said than done, right?
Well, if you were Unilever, you would hire KPMG to do that for you. Most solo/entrepreneurs can’t afford that. But you can afford a pro who has done this before for their own business. It’s mostly common sense and sensing the market (what people need and how you can help solve their problems). One common pattern with introverted solopreneurs is that because they work independently (usually at home), they don’t have someone to talk to, share their views and work on the right business model constructively. In most cases, they stick to a rather generic targeting and USP and a dysfunctional business model.
Here is my take on that issue: when I started out, I also had the same issue. I had to go through it and find a solution. So, in the beginning, I opted for targeting startups and my offering was to help them grow their business with content. The idea was good, right? Now I find it generic, there were (still are) so many content marketers out there, most of them offering exactly the same and struggling with the growth of their business. How could I have done any better? No wonder, my targeting was very broad and my USP was flawed (=generic). Of course, it did not work out and while trying to make it work, I spend the greatest part of the money I had accumulated as a buffer. Hitting a dead-end, a friend of mine shook me and told me this is not working and that I would soon run out of money. If something doesn’t work, change it, that is. I spoke to a few wise people I knew, did some experimentation, trial and error too, tested some concepts until I finally found out the right thing: something that both felt right for me as an introvert solo/entrepreneur and that would be sustainable and with growth potential as a business. If you want to skip the painful steps (time and money lost, too), head over to a pro who can help you solve that early on.
#3 Slow, not steady or even no business growth
This challenge is closely connected with the previous one. It actually comes -partly- as a result of the lack of a business niche and the right business model. These inefficiencies lead to no growth, in most cases. However, there are other cases too, where there is growth (I mean revenues) but they come slowwwwly or at a very unsteady pace (e.g. 3 new clients in September and then drought until the new year).
Slow growth (like one client per month or even trimester or even semester) is bad for your business. You can’t make ends meet. You have rent to pay and you need to feed yourself and your family.
Unsteady growth makes the solopreneurial / entrepreneurial life even more like a roller-coaster. Ups and downs all the time and a quite random flow of clients and revenues, that make you anxious about the future. You can’t plan things and start wondering if you have what it takes or if your business idea is flawed.
Well, step one in the process to finding a remedy is to work on your targeting, USP and business model. Chances are that if you do this homework (better with someone who knows how to do it AND has been through this, to understand how it feels and prep you) the growth issues will retreat a little bit.
However, you can fix them once and for all if you work on your marketing. Yes, this is true. Now, pay attention to this: marketing is not just posting on your social media or producing and publishing content every now and then. Marketing is not just ads, definitely. Don’t get me wrong, you need these things but they are tactics and tools. You need a solid strategy first and a content funnel to make your business mechanism work smoothly (and steadily).
I know, we, introverts, are not very keen on doing sales and marketing. It makes us uncomfortable and we prefer to focus on delivering our services, skipping them altogether. This is something that needs fixing. If you simply skip the outbound business activities, how can you share your message? How can people find out about you and your services? The competition is out there and it’s fierce. But trust me (I mean it), you got nothing to worry about if you have a business niche and a unique offering that differentiates you from the rest, target the right people the right way AND make your marketing in a systematic way.
Anything else (or most probably what you have been doing so far) is random and won’t help with your business’s survival and growth. Now, here is the tricky part: doing marketing in a systematic way does not mean you do everything that people talk about. You won’t need Tik Tok or even Instagram, to grow your business. You won’t need to pay thousands of [your currency here] for ads. You just need the right mix of channels and tools, that can work for YOUR business, and doing it in a systematic way.
Building a funnel on a spreadsheet can suffice. Just think of your audience and what you want them to do, to become your clients eventually. The first step (in ANY case) is to make people come to your website. Social media can help but it’s rented land and it’s expensive. You can use them however in a smart way (playing by their rules) to send traffic to your website. The next step is to decide what you want them to do next and how to interact with you. Be careful: website visitors won’t become your clients. There are many stages in between and you have to perform certain tasks at each stage. The ultimate goal is to move people from the top of your funnel (visitors) further down, so they become leads and clients eventually. I will outline how to do it in the next section.
For now, just keep in mind that doing marketing in a systematic way will help you have a steady flow of visitors and leads, you can convert to clients, with the right marketing. Most pieces are in place, you feel less anxious about your business and the only thing you need to worry / work on is how to do what it takes to have more clients. This is perfectly in sync with your introverted nature. I can verify that myself.
#4 Focus on delivery & lack of any business development / marketing
As I wrote in the intro, our world has been prepped by and for extroverts. Business development and sales / marketing are -falsely- perceived as extroverted activities. If a business owner (more so an introvert solopreneur or entrepreneur working alone) wants to grow their business, they need to be out of the office all the time, talk to everyone, network, sell sell sell. And all this in a “loud, aggressive” way because, um, this is the only way to survive and thrive, as many people claim.
So, instinctively, we, introverts, say to ourselves “I am not cut for biz dev and sales. I will focus on my services. Clients will come”.
Sorry to tell you that but clients will not come. Or they may come randomly (remember slow, unsteady or no growth above?). Without business development or sales & marketing, you can’t push your message out and reach the right people you actively have to target.
Skipping these two crucial business functions will make it much harder for you to reach your goals and grow your business. You need them 100%.
The thing is that we, introverts, first need to let go of this false belief. That there are things we can do and things we cannot do, because of our introverted nature. Quite the opposite. We can do anything we wish, to the same extent that extroverted people can. Introversion is inherent in us, it’s biology so there is nothing to be ashamed of and nothing to hold you back.
Some people are taller, others are dark-haired. The same goes for introverts. We just happen to function biologically in a different way. And different is good and can differentiate you.
As a result, you don’t need to let introversion stand in your way. Your challenge must be how to adapt to it and use your resources, talents and personality to the best of your ability. That also includes marketing.
Not all business development means you need to attend 3 networking events every week. You don’t have to make cold calls to find new clients, AT ALL. I don’t do it. I’ve tried cold outreach but it did not feel me and the results were poor. Not because of my introversion but because I wasn’t myself: my anxiety levels reached sky high and it felt awkward so all the wrong words came out of my mouth.
Here is another personal story: before going solo, at the time I used to work in the corporate world, I had to attend an event that was meant to be a networking occasion. I was kind of forced by my boss. I did not object, because that would be a good opportunity to see what’s out there and talk to a person or two, literally (how introvert!). We both attended and I soon found out the real reason he wanted me with him: to make cold selling. I was just thrown out there with the goal to bring in leads and sales.
As a person, I like to take on new challenges so although it didn’t feel me at all, I jumped into it. Sometimes by myself, sometimes along with my boss. The experience was one of the worst in my life, having to jump from person to person in the room, introduce myself and try to sell at once. Like a bee, buzzing from flower to flower to get the precious nectar. As you may imagine, we didn’t manage to get any nectar. Both my boss and me. Zero, nada, null.
I told myself I’d never do it again in my life. Been there, done that but no thanks! The problem is that cold selling rarely works and only for specific impulse buying. And this is valid for every business and people, introverted or not.
I do not believe in cold selling because it’s aggressive, intruding, unkind, pushy but above all not meaningful. I know you cherish this word a lot. You opt for meaning in anything, so do I. Cold selling is not meaningful in most cases because it’s not sustainable. It doesn’t involve human interaction and relationship building. Yes, it’s fine for some to go chit-chatting and get to know other people. Networking matters a lot but I find you can do it in a more authentic way and still make it work.
As I will explain in the next section, sales and business development can be tailored to your needs as an introvert person. You don’t have to dread them because you need them. You simply have to do it your introvert meaningful way and I will show you how further below.
#5 Isolation & disconnection
OK, now we dive really deep, as this and the next two challenges are very serious and involve human psychology.
Many introverted solopreneurs or entrepreneurs working alone tell me this: “I work alone, from home, and have no one to talk to about my business in order to receive feedback, or ask for help or backup!”.
This is the feeling of a lonesome cowboy, I know. It’s the side effect of working independently, on your own, often alone. Your spouse or friends can listen to your problems but unfortunately can’t offer real tangible help with your marketing or operations.
Working alone, often from home, for weeks on end, is challenging. Although the corona pandemic exposed millions of people to working remotely, many have found it doesn’t work for them (hopefully you are not one of them) or that it has at least some cons: isolation and disconnection.
Being a solo/entrepreneur is a roller coaster by itself. Feeling alone in this and isolated can make it worse. Contrary to popular belief, we, introverts, like human interaction. We are social beings, too. We just want to have it in certain doses, without being exposed to hyper-interaction that drains our energy quickly.
Now hear this: getting a marketer you trust on board can help you with that enormously. You don’t have to hire them if you can’t afford it. But finding someone who knows their stuff and you trust, can take a lot of that isolation and disconnection away.
A well-rounded, pro marketer (i.e. not one who simply does Facebook ads) is the person you can talk to about the challenges in your business, ask for advice and get an outside opinion on the things that trouble your business.
Bottom line, it’s crucial to outsource some things like your marketing so you can also have someone semi-on board. Doing everything on your own, by yourself, alone, at home, won’t get you far. I have been through this stage at the beginning of my solopreneurial journey and it didn’t work.
Any small monetary investment you make on outsourcing tasks can bring back a very high return in the long run. And this return can be tangible or intangible.
Regarding a common problem I see with introverted solopreneurs like me is remote work. Working from home the whole time, without going out of the house for days, can rarely work in the long term.
Don’t get me wrong, I love working at home. However, external stimuli can help awaken your senses, become more active, socialise. It is just that you have to do it in a controlled way. As the Swedes say, it’s about “lagom”. Although there is no direct translation, it means not too little, not too much. Keeping things balanced so you create harmony in your life.
The same goes for your socialising. Working from home one day and in an office (or cafe or whatever else you feel like) the next day can work wonders. You find your balance, how many days in a week you will be staying at home. You can also stay flexible. You need to have a plan, however. But if it rains one day and there should be too much chaos on the streets, stay home and take care of yourself. But this must be an exception to the plan and not an excuse to keep staying and working at home forever.
I choose a combination of work from home and working outside of it, on a one-day in-one-day-out basis. I visit one of my client’s offices (happens to be in the same town I live) and work from there. And in the summer, when it’s usually too hot for me, I prefer remote work from my summerhouse.
Remember: take care of yourself and go with the flow. Choose what fits best your needs when it comes to where you work.
#6 Work-life balance
This may sound like a cliche but it’s the reality. As a consequence of many of the challenges above, you may often find yourself without a work-life balance.
This happens because you usually work too much and on many different things and tasks, from important ones to trivial ones (multitasking and loss of focus), which leads to severe time management issues and the inability to prioritize the things in your life.
Also, because of your business’s growth issues (slow / unsteady / no growth), you tend to work a lot at times and face financial problems as well. This affects both you and your loved ones (partners, spouses, kids).
Feeling isolated and disconnected only adds to the problem. All in all, you don’t feel balanced and above all that your life and work are meaningful enough. “What’s the point of keep trying to grow my business? I am not cut for it” or “I need more stability in my life so perhaps I must go back to my previous 9-5 job”. I hear that too often.
This is often the result of having a bad or no work-life balance. I know you seek meaning in everything you do, even when introspecting and thinking about your life and work.
Meaning comes when what we do comes from our heart and fulfils our days, be it work or our personal life.
Now let me clarify one thing: we use the word “balance” when we talk about work and our personal life. I’d go as far as to say that we, introverts, need to substitute this word with another one “harmony”. You see balance means you have to have the two things in equal quantities. For example, work for 8 hours and then have another 8 hours for yourself (excluding sleep).
I find this is a false perception and instead of balancing things, we need to focus on finding harmony. Harmony is about finding the right quantity for each thing in your life, that will make you happy. For example, if you work on your passion and grow a business out of it (most probably), you may find it perfectly OK to work hard for 10 hours a day. You don’t get too tired and it makes you feel fulfilled. But then you may take a whole Friday off to relax with your family. So, there is no right combination or balance.
You need to combine the things in your life (including growing your business) in a harmonious way, to keep you happy and fulfilled. This is a sure path to living a meaningful life.
For example, I like to work on my business and my side projects a lot, I am lucky enough to have chosen the right path and stick to it (with all the pros and cons this entails). But I also travel a lot. So, I sort of make up for the extra time I work during weekdays. This combo is perfect for me and I find harmony in it. Working a lot and looking forward to my next trip coming up soon.
#7 Fear of inadequacy or failure
Now, with this challenge, we’ve hit rock bottom in an introverted solopreneur’s or entrepreneur’s psyche.
Perhaps it’s the greatest challenge of all that has implications on our work and our whole life altogether.
We, introverts, think a lot (not that extroverted people don’t) but according to science, we take in many more stimuli from the external environment.
Long story short, we receive a lot of data and information that we then process. This means we are in a constant thinking process, hence many of us feel like “we never seem to sit back and relax!”.
I’ve come to accept that and use it to my own advantage (observation skills, introspection, empathy etc). So should you.
However, for most of us, something uneasy happens, during that constant thinking and processing of information. We get stuck in an endless information loop (rabbit hole I’d dare say).
As they say, the more we get to learn, the more insecure we feel that we don’t know much. This uncertainty and the factor of the unknown, in turn, create fear. And fear is the root of all “evil”.
I got news for you and they are good. Fear is normal. And fear is human. Ingrained into our DNA ever since the first humanoids evolved on this planet and strived to survive.
So, it’s perfectly OK to feel fear. Actually, there happens to exist two kinds of fear: the fear of inadequacy and the fear of failure. Both are intrinsically powerful with devastating forces.
The fear of inadequacy makes you feel like you don’t have what it takes to make it. That you are not cut for whatever you are up to. You feel as if you don’t have the abilities, skills, resources, or even talent, to nail it with your personal and professional life. This quickly demotivates you and pushes you towards disappointment, second-guessing everything, and inability to make decisions (even the smallest and most trivial ones).
The fear of failure stems from sticking to the past. We actually project our past failures to the future and falsely assume they will keep repeating whatever we may do. This makes everything seem in vain.
Listen to this, what a client of mine once told me (when we started working together): “I feel I am not cut for being a solopreneur (language coach). I never seem to be able to make it, have clients and grow my business, no matter how hard I tried with recruiting new clients and marketing. Perhaps this is not for me and it’s not working. Should I get back to my 9-5 work?”.
That’s true and sad. Sad because it’s a pity to let fear get in the way and hold you back. Because fear is just in your head and comes from overthinking.
It may never be the best decision or timing to do something. You got two options: never do anything (so there is no risk of failure, ever again) or try things out until you find what works for you.
Needless to say what is the most viable and sustainable option. There are ways to make it work as an introverted solopreneur or entrepreneur still working alone. There are people out there to help you get over these self-blockages and turn the page.
Now it’s your turn! What do you say? do you face some of these challenges yourself? Which one do you feel is the most painful one? Share your stories below.
In the meantime, if you feel you need help (consulting or coaching) with your content and marketing as an introverted solopreneur or entrepreneur still working alone, drop me a line or book your free Discovery Call here.
It’s 100% free and with no obligation. We will talk about your challenges & how you can reach a breakthrough and grow your brand and business sustainably with the power of content.