Written by: Iulia Racovita, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
Navigating corporate life, completing an education or acquiring a professional certification may be paths you’ve traveled before – you may know what to expect and how to overcome challenges. On the other hand, building a business by yourself – with no previous experience and amid a busy life – is a completely different story. This is when your dream meets reality and overwhelm, self-doubt or fear may start to sneak in.
In this article, we will look at mindset tips and practical advice to help mid-career professionals, first-time solopreneurs, tackle challenges they may face at the beginning of their entrepreneurial journey.
1. Know your why
There are many reasons to get stuck, especially if you are launching into building a business that requires an online presence. At some point, you’ll have to go public, to set a price for your services (i.e. ask for money!), ask for testimonials, engage with an audience, figure out marketing, sales, branding, technical stuff and so on. You’ll also realise that before making any income, expenses keep adding up. Last but not least, you’ll need to make the new work fit smoothly into an already busy life!
Start with the end in mind. Become clear on your purpose and you’ll find the strength to move through whatever obstacles. Why is this goal important to you? How will it impact your life? What difference will it make to the lives of others? What if you don’t pursue it? Take some time to deeply reflect on these questions. You might be surprised by the outcome!
2. Own your choices
Before embarking on this journey, I kept looking left and right for support, hoping that someone else would tell me to just go for it. Finally, I had to make the decision on my own and take full responsibility, which was more empowering than any external encouragement.
You may find that people around you may not share the same level of enthusiasm, but it’s important to remember that they might not fully understand your perspective unless they’ve experienced it themselves. While you can’t control their responses, you can focus on managing your own expectations.
3. Just start
It can be daunting to think about entering a new profession as a solo entrepreneur. It may seem like you need to have the answers to many questions beforehand. How will this impact my current career? Can it work as a side hustle? Am I going to ever make money from this so I can invest more in education and in building the business? Is this the right time? Is it too late? What if I fail? The truth is, nobody has all the answers at the beginning. It’s all about taking that first step.
Taking action is the evidence that your pursuit is real and that you‘re making progress. Taking action will be what will give you momentum and the confidence to keep going. Just go one step at a time. One foot in front of the other, as I’ve learned from running.
4. Practice from the beginning
You don‘t have to have everything perfectly ready and in place before starting to do the work that you love. It is more important to start putting yourself out there and to practice as early and as much as possible. That will provide you with feedback that you can use to adjust and improve on the go and will help you build your experience. A few practical tips: be honest with clients about where you‘re at in your journey and document your experience - obstacles you have encountered, how you moved through them – it may be useful at a later stage.
Done is better than perfect, as one of my favourite mentors told me. You may read and re-write many times the copy for your website or offer, it may never look perfect to you and that’s okay. Put your best into it and let it go! It becomes easier with time.
5. Chunk down the overwhelm
Expect to feel lost, overwhelmed and like giving up many times, especially in the early days. Break down the overwhelm into manageable chunks. Ask yourself: “What’s bothering me right now? Why am I so concerned? What am I missing?” Make a list of what is keeping you stuck, as granular as possible, set priorities and tackle each, one by one.
In my own experience, it turned out that the most overwhelming steps were finally easy to do and required little time (e.g. buying and setting up an internet domain or legal registration of the business). What took longer was the decision to proceed, because they were tangible actions confirming that things got real (which was a bit scary!). Once taken, these actions unlocked other items from my to-do list. Also, I did not have a complete and clear roadmap from the beginning. It has expanded and built itself gradually, as I was progressing, doing more research and coming over new information.
6. Be radically consistent
You may often feel demotivated, that your progress is slow or that you’re running out of time. As an already busy professional and maybe even a busy parent, the reality is that it might take you longer to take your passion to the next level. The key is to work towards your goal every single day. Literally. Even if it’s three hours or just 15 minutes, be aware of your available time and work on the task that fits in.
Have a structured plan. For instance, you could block daily slots in your weekly calendar for learning, working on business, and creating content, so that each day you’ll know what your focus is. Find an accountability partner and use tools or apps to make it easier for you to stay committed and on track. Stay vigilant to prevent unnecessary over-complication.
7. Make aligned decisions
In decision-making, core values serve as a kind of anchor to help you stay grounded when you feel lost or confused. By knowing your core values and deciding according to them in everything that you do, you set the ground for a fulfilling journey, no matter the outcome. It may seem like an abstract concept, but you’ll be able to decide with confidence on practical aspects of how you want to show up in your business - such as marketing strategy and offers, as well as in other areas of your professional and personal life - boundaries you need to set, priorities, and so on.
Uncomfortable with the marketing campaigns that I’ve seen on social media, I found myself googling questions that integrated my core values such as “How to market my business without social media” or “How to set the price in a way that feels right”. I did find answers, I found mentors I resonate with and an aligned way of moving forward.
8. Befriend your self-doubt
Regardless of the level of self-confidence you generally experience, expect to feel like an impostor from time to time. There could be many reasons for that. First, as a starting solopreneur you don’t get the external validation or immediate feedback you may be used to as an employee; so at times you simply don’t know whether you are on or off-track. Second, you’ve been a senior professional in your career and now you practically feel like a junior, easily doubting your competence and ability to make a difference. Third, you may have gained the necessary education and expertise for the new work that you’ll do, but you may be a complete newbie when it comes to marketing, sales and the technicalities of setting up a business on your own.
Knowing that in advance may help you catch yourself and be more prepared when self-judgment kicks in. Remind yourself that the professional identity that you’ve built so far, your skills and your experience do not become irrelevant. It’s quite probable that you do have inner resources that are transferable to your new journey. Become aware of those resources and bring them along! Also, don‘t mix up the hats and lose confidence just because you are not a marketing expert (which is ultimately true, that is a different skill!). Once again, use your core values as a compass to guide you in making choices that feel right. And ask for support – work with a mentor/ coach/ community/ peers.
9. Have a support system
What helped you or saved you at difficult times? What gives you focus and helps you access creativity? What fills your cup with energy?
It could be sports, art, meditation, prayer, journaling, support from certain people, it could be nature walks or afternoon naps, learning something new, helping somebody, or an inspiring book or podcast. Just figure out what’s part of your support system and have that with you along the way. These are strategies you can decide to use consciously when things get tough; they can play a crucial role in staying motivated in the long run and maintaining an overall balance in life.
As a practical tip, find and follow a mentor you resonate with; they often have an online community built around their work that you can join. Entering a new community of like-minded people may be especially powerful; it gives you a sense that you’re not alone (because solopreneurship can feel lonely at times!).
10. Commit to a path of learning and growth
While reflecting on your own definition of success, make it about the journey and not about the destination.
Solopreneurship, especially without prior experience, can be a daunting yet immensely rewarding endeavour. Your dreams become real when you take that first step, and every subsequent step is evidence of your progress. Stay true to your values, keep learning, and never underestimate the power of your inner resources. Seek support when needed, and remember that self-doubt is a natural companion on this journey!
Complement the above with my free workbook on How to find your core values and why they matter! available here.
Visit my website for more info!
Iulia Racovita, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
An advocate for lifelong learning, Iulia Racovita chose to harness her strategies as a highly effective academic learner and apply them to other areas of life. What began as a learning experiment in her mid-thirties has evolved into an inspiring journey. Today, as a passionate certified life coach, she empowers mid-career professionals to navigate challenges with clarity and ease. In serving her clients, Iulia leverages her professional background as an internal audit manager and an internationally certified chartered accountant with over 15 years of local and international experience in the financial sector. Discover how she can help you achieve your goals! Visit her website – https://iuliaracovita.ck.page/home