By Laura Gayle, Business Woman Guide
Are you ready to make the plunge to becoming a solo entrepreneur but you’re worried about the risk of failure? Yes, there are many scary things about going solo that could bring you down. But the chance of success is so great that the risk is worth it. Here some of the most common issues that can pop up for solopreneurs and how you can avoid them.
1. Lack of contact with industry specialists
Solo entrepreneur need to make immediate contact with a broad variety of individuals in their respective industries. However, doing so can be a real challenge for many people starting down this career path. For example, you may work from home and struggle to meet new people. Thankfully, constant networking and visiting various industry-related events can help you meet the new people who can help you succeed.
For example, you can attend as many networking events as possible near you or even across the nation. These industry gatherings aren’t always common throughout the year, which can make it critical to budget traveling to them. Talk to people who you think can help your business, especially potential clients, at these gatherings. Make sure you’re collecting all their contact information for later discussion. Just as importantly, pick their brains to get advice about issues that are important for your business.
2. Getting stuck in a stay-at-home rut
As a solopreneur, you likely wake up early every morning and work hard throughout the day. Working from home is also part of the joy of this calling. You can sit in pajamas and get more work done before noon than most people will do all day. However, even the most driven solopreneur can get stuck in a stay-at-home rut. That can challenge productivity, making your success more difficult.
That’s why shared co-working spaces can be a smart investment. They take you out of the comfort of your home (where you might be tempted to binge watch “The Office” on a discouraging day instead of working) and force you into a productive environment instead. Here, the professional setting can help you focus on your day’s tasks and get them done quickly and efficiently. And as a bonus, you could meet potential business partners in these spaces, along with other people who can expand or inform your business reach.
3. Potentially fleeting finances
The chance of success as a solo entrepreneur is often quite large but may take some tough times to reach. Even when you’re succeeding, working for yourself creates potential for a tight financial situation. Continually investing in new businesses, inventions, and ideas will force you to push forward and may put you in a spot where you’re eating nothing but Ramen noodles for weeks on end.
That’s why it’s always a good idea to create a separate business account for your company from which you draw your funds. Also, build an emergency fund when you have a little extra money to invest. This fund should be enough to pay all of your bills for at least two or three months and include enough for personal needs, such as food and home payments. Planning ahead keeps you ahead when dry periods pop up.
4. Making tax mistakes after becoming a solopreneur
When Uncle Sam comes calling for your taxes in April, you need to make sure everything is in order and accounted for before you file. Tax mistakes are very easy to make as a solo entrepreneur and can be difficult to recover from if you get caught. For example, you might file the wrong type of return and end up suffering from severe financial loss.
That’s why it’s always smart to use a self-employment tax calculator beforehand to get an idea of how much money you’re likely to pay. These calculators also help you gauge your withholding amounts and any write-offs you plan on utilizing. Professional tax help in this situation is also a good idea. Paying somebody to help avoid a massive tax bill is a smart investment, solopreneur. You may not even have to leave the home when filing taxes with a professional if they’re using electronic signatures to sign documents.
5. Thieves stealing your materials
Working from home can be very liberating but may be devastating if you leave the house for a few hours (or days, on a business trip) and come back to find your home office was robbed. Thieves often stake out houses that contain expensive electronic items, like your computer, printer, and scanner, and steal them. While home and business insurance can help you recover financially, the loss of productivity (not to mention morale) can be devastating.
If this situation seems possible for your location, consider storing expensive home office items in a secure self-storage center when you’ll be away for a while. It’s also a good idea to keep tax information and other important documentation in a safe or a locker box at the same storage facility. Don’t forget to place your electronics in these types of secure boxes, as well — and even weigh the boxes down so that they cannot be removed. This way, you’ll have multiple protective elements keeping your goods safe.
6. Mistakes with trademarks and patents
As a solo entrepreneur, you might be investing in a variety of new inventions and concepts. If so, you need to make sure that your trademark and patent understanding is on point. For example, you can use a trademark to protect your ownership of items like words, slogans, names, designs, symbols, and images. You can keep a trademark as current as you want, as long as you pay any of the relevant fees. Finding a lawyer that specializes in trademarks and patents is another thing to consider. It’s a good idea to find one who accepts electronic signatures, making documentation and paperwork process easy.
Patents are also vital, as they help protect your exclusive rights to an invention for at least 20 years. However, you need to make sure you file a patent in every country where you plan to do business. Many solopreneurs don’t do this and wind up seeing their invention stolen and copied in other countries. Talk to a patent and trademark lawyer to protect your intellectual property in your country and around the world.
Nobody ever said starting and running a business was easy. But there’s no need to be discouraged. Plenty of resources are out there to help you navigate the complex maze of legal, financial, and logistical requirements. Ultimately you’ll find your way to great success as a solo entrepreneur.