OWNING A SHOP MEANS having a never-ending list of things that need to get done… all the time. Going on buying trips, budgeting how much to spend, receiving inventory, designing appealing displays and keeping them fresh, paying bills, answering the phone, helping customers, researching trends, breaking down boxes, dealing with landlords, keeping up with social media, writing advertising campaigns, dusting, sweeping the floor. Yes, being a solopreneur is pretty much an endless job.
All businesses require dedication, determination, enthusiasm, flexibility, and perseverance, but if you’re in business for and by yourself, here are a few tips to help you keep your head above water.
There’s no shame in asking for help, even temporarily or on a part-time basis
Owning a shop and attempting to do it all solo is not only challenging but a likely prescription for burnout. Not to say it’s impossible, but even with endless entrepreneurial spirit and boundless energy, it can be tough, to say the least. Keep in mind that you deserve support, and burnout can be avoided by even a few hours’ break away from your shop once in a while.
Hire professionals to do the things you aren’t good at
Hiring freelancers for tasks like bookkeeping, graphic design, or writing press releases may not be as expensive as you think if you pay by the job. Not only will this save you time, but it can raise your business to a more professional level. You might be tempted to think that doing everything yourself will keep overhead low, but in the long run it may not work. Hiring smart people is how you will make money. They are good at what they do, and you will be good at finding them more stuff to do. When something needs to be done you will eventually stop thinking “How will I do this?” and instead think “Who will I get to do this for me?”
Find a student or graduate intern
There are college students studying marketing and business management who would love hands-on work experience. They may even do it for free or for class credit. Contact your nearest college or university and see if you can post a flyer or connect with their business department. Or, talk to your local chamber of commerce to see if they have a Student at Work Day. Keep in mind you may have friends and family members who also would be thrilled to help. To them, it’s still fun!
Do it all yourself but honor your personal needs
It’s far too easy to put your own needs on the back burner when looking at that pile of bills to pay and those new products that need to be displayed. Give yourself a time limit as to how late you will stay once you close shop for the evening and stick to it no matter what. Ask yourself: If I were an employee here, would I be required to stay this late?
Network and trade
Is there someone in your town with whom you can refer work back and forth? Or, could you work together as a team by pooling resources and talents so you both can offer more while maintaining your individual autonomy? Talk to neighborhood shop owners and see how you can join forces to network or even create a solopreneur support group. A communal ad or street event can also help lighten your load.