Most of the time, I love working from home. I also making money (mostly) on my terms. Before you decide that being a solopreneur is the move for you, here are some of the realities involved.
You set your own schedule.
One of my favorite things about being on my own is the fact that I get to set my own schedule. Since I started working for a company as a W-2 employee again there are a few more restrictions, but I work from home and still get to set my own schedule much of the time.
As a solopreneur, you have freedom and flexibility to work when you want — and from where you want. It’s freedom, and one of the things I treasure most.
Sometimes you have to work even when you don’t want to.
Ok, this is true whether you have a real job or whether you’re a solopreneur. You just have to suck it up and work sometimes.
But when you have a real job, the assumption is that you can clock out at some point and take a break. When you have a business, that’s not always the case. You might be up late working, even if you want to sleep. I can’t tell you how often I work on the weekend.
You have to force yourself to work sometimes, even if it’s the last thing you want to do. And sometimes, especially at first, you find yourself working more than you ever did while holding down a regular job.
Get ready for the self-employment tax.
One thing you don’t think about when you’re working for The Man is that your company is paying half your payroll taxes. When you’re working for yourself, you pay both parts of payroll taxes.
It’s important to be prepared. You could see a higher tax bill when you quit your job, just because you no longer have an employer subsidizing part of your taxes.
Set aside money each month to go toward taxes. I like to set aside about a third of my monthly income to go toward taxes (you might feel more comfortable adjusting this amount). And remember: you should pay quarterly to reduce the chance of problems with the IRS. Plan ahead of time to avoid money problems down the road.
Sometimes it feels like you have several bosses.
Be your own boss! You’re totally in charge!
The reality for many solopreneurs is that it can feel like you’ve got multiple bosses. There are days when I’m wrestling with multiple deadlines for different clients. I definitely don’t feel like I’m my own boss in those situations!
For freelancers, it’s common to feel as though you have more than one boss. The bright side, though, is that you have the chance to fire an unreasonable client down the road when you start seeing success.
Making money online takes more than just setting up a website.
Online entrepreneurs make it look so easy. Just set up your website and boom. The money rolls in.
But does it, really?
Sure. After you’ve put in the work. And it can take years to find success with your website or store. It can happen faster, of course, but it takes work. You need to market your website, services, and products — just like any other business.
You need a plan. You need to do the work. And you need to be realistic. If you build it, they aren’t guaranteed to come. You have to entice them.
It can get lonely cooped up in your home office.
I love working from home. And part of the reason I started doing the online thing was to avoid having to people on a regular basis.
But even introverts get lonely. We need to talk to people sometimes, too. As a solopreneur, though, that human contact might not be as frequent as you’d like.
You can ease the pain a bit by heading to a co-working space or a coffee shop. Meetups, conferences, and video calls can also help. Plus, if you have a life partner who works from home, that can provide you with support as well. Of course, having your life partner at home all the time with you can have its own drawbacks.
Your friends and family just don’t get what you do.
Working online as a solopreneur is hard to explain to friends and family. I’ve got people assuming I can just drop everything and do things for them left and right.
And my IRL acquaintances think what I do is a quaint hobby. Um, no, I support my family.
Trying to explain what I do to my grandma? She didn’t think I’d “made it” until she actually saw my name in the newspaper.
Luckily, as the internet becomes an increasingly acceptable way to make a living, and as the gig economy becomes a Thing, it’s easier to explain what I do. But sometimes it can be truly maddening.
It’s possible to go to the spa on Thursday.
Have I mentioned how much I enjoy a flexible schedule?
This is my favorite reality of being a solopreneur. I love going to the spa on Thursday. I can almost always get an appointment, there aren’t many people there, and I can truly relax while my son is at school. It’s perfect.
Maybe the spa isn’t your thing. Maybe it’s golf. Or going to lunch with a friend. Perhaps you just want to go for a hike or play paintball. Whatever it is, go wild.
Just realize that you might have to make up for it by working on Sunday afternoon.
All your friends are working when you want to play.
It’s nice that you can go to a matinee movie on Wednesday afternoon. But you better like going alone. Because your friends with real jobs are all working.
This is a tough reality for many solopreneurs. They’re so excited that they can set a schedule to their liking, but what happens when everyone else is still on the 9-to-5 grind?
I get around it by meeting friends for lunch near their workplaces so we can enjoy a little time together. You can also find other friends to do things with, or even learn to be your own best friend.
You are responsible for your success.
This is the biggest, scariest, harshest reality of being a solopreneur. It’s also the most liberating aspect of being out there on your own. The fact that you are totally in charge of your own success is a huge deal — and it can make you or break you.
I love thinking that I can chart my own course. Even if you are still working your real job, and your solopreneurship is mostly in the side hustle stage right now, you are still taking control of your future success.
To me, even though there are hard realities associated with doing what I do, the biggest reality is also the most encouraging reality.
Are you a solopreneur? Tell us your story in the #Adulting community on Facebook.