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3 Mistakes in the Career of a Solo Business Owner by Tanya Smith

Jul 18th, 2010 | By | Category: Career Coaching

This past week I had several questions come up about starting a new business.  Since I have the perspective of someone who has started a business with a one-man shop, or a “solopreneur” business as some have coined it, I will share a few pointers based on my big failures.  See it’s when you fail at something, or make big whopping mistakes, that you learn the biggest lessons.

Mistake #1 – Not Walking In Your Own Lane

When I first started looking at a business opportunity, it really wasn’t planned.  I had been approached by someone to participate in a direct sales business.  I didn’t know the person, and I actually never saw them again after I joined.  Much of what I learned throughout my 6 years of working that business, I learned through great trial and error and I was never truly “successful” in getting the results I wanted.
Later on, I figured out why. The work I was doing was not in an area of my passion.  While I enjoyed some of the “accessory” items like the camaraderie of peers in the business, the fancy trips, etc. The actual work was nothing I’d wanted to specialize in.  My corporate background was in Human Resources and my education was in Psychology and Business. My sales business, however, was in personal care….? (see Romans 12:6 for more on each of us having assigned gifts and our responsibility to use them as God has assigned them. in context, I believe this applies to our work gifts also.).
After I determined it was time to go, and I headed into the direction of my passion – which is helping people become more prosperous in their careers; to enjoy life at work more. Once I understood that, things took off in a very different way.  Instead of the work of building my business feeling like trudging through mud, I actually felt more free and more joyous about it.

Mistake #2 – Spending Without a Plan

When I first started out, I heard “network, network, network” so I attended every event, spent money for hundreds of lunches, and saw maybe a 1-2% return on the investment I was making.  Well…I did get to line my entire office with business cards of people I don’t know to this day.
I was paying attention to advice from people without identifying what type of activities would really benefit me and the clients I was after. It took me several years before I learned this lesson – and once I sat down to examine who I wanted to talk to, where they frequented, and what they liked, finding them was a lot less expensive and more fruitful! (For more on building from a solid foundation & plan, read the book of Nehemiah).

Mistake #3 – Not Getting Help

As a solo business owner, and someone who is very driven, it has been difficult to let go of certain parts of my business.  What I have realized is that just like you can’t be everything to everyone, I cannot be everything to all parts my business.
I had to learn to find experts and resources that complement the areas I’m not good at OR those areas that keep me from doing the real work that generates income.  After all, as much as your work can be grounded in your passion, don’t forget you still should see a monetary return on your business…otherwise, it’s just a hobby! (see Proverbs 15:22 for more on surrounding yourself with counselors and advisers).
There are many more lessons I could share with you but for sake of brevity in this post, I’ll leave you with these to chew on for now.
For me, being promotable is about embracing all the lessons you learn, especially in times of adversity and error, then moving forward to the next experience.  Just get ready…because you’ll have your own article to write some day on this topic! Now go out there and be promotable!
About the Author: Tanya Smith of Be Promotable helps ambitious professional women share their brand brilliance through a powerful online brand presence. To get instant access to her free special report on how to surefire steps to be promotable stop by and visit
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