I’m one of the 8.6% of employed Americans who is able to work in my underwear while doing my laundry, watering my plants, and running my kids back and forth to school. That's right, I'm a solopreneur, or an entrepreneur who works alone. I don’t have to answer to anyone but my clients, though I am still able to make a healthy living.
For the most part, working for myself has been wonderful. It’s great working when you feel like it and knowing you don’t have to dress any particular way. Even when I Skype or hang in a Google Hangout, I just need to wear a decent-looking casual dress shirt to mask the fact that I’m really sitting in a pair of shorts or less out of view of the web cam.
On the other hand, it’s taken a lot of discipline, and yet another coming out of the closet adventure, to be fine in my solitary (and sometimes lonely) home office. After working for many years in a glass tower, jetting from continent to continent, and entertaining clients, I suddenly didn’t know what to do with myself when I woke up to a quiet house, with my kids off to school and husband at work. All I could do was build my business and figure out how to have some modicum of interoffice chitchat with my cats.
Without a doubt, social media has prevented many solopreneurs from disconnecting altogether from society. Between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Linked-In, it’s pretty hard to fall off the face of the earth. It only takes one check-in on any social medium for people to know you’re still around. On the flip side, social media could become your new closet. It’s a closet where no real human interaction has to take place, and all your previous corporate social skills that you honed to a T could become irrelevant.
Isolation by solopreneurship is a potential epidemic. It’s a closet where you can hide, interact virtually and never leave your house (not even to network). A status update here, 140 words of a tweet there and the demise of humans as we know them has begun. We step into the closet of virtual living, afraid to come out for fear of what others might think of us.
A new study, The State Of Independence In America, indicates that there are about 17.7 million people working as solopreneurs in the United States today. Since that is a huge number of people who are in danger of being locked in the virtual closet, we need to examine new methods for making sure they don’t lose their social graces.
Don’t go into a closet of isolation. Trust this gay man. Isolation because you are different and walk down an unusual road compared to others, does not make for happiness. Stay in the game. Find avenues to connect, even if it’s getting out of the house for the occasional non-fat, no whip, double-espresso, cafe mocha at your local coffee house. It’s a great place to open up, meet new people, and to remember what it’s like to be surrounded by other living and breathing humans.
Networking events. Instead of attending networking mixers in order to meet new people to help you, attend some events just to see how you can help someone else. Don't be the annoying person who is pushing your resume into everyone’s face, but rather you can offer advice to those who really need it. And who knows, those people could come back and be very useful to you one day.
Mastermind live. Many soloprenuers love to mastermind, or meet up regularly online with like-minded soloprenuers and discuss challenges or issues they are having. That’s great, yet once again you lose that personal, live interaction. When I came out-of-the-closet, I thought I was the only married guy in my situation until I started masterminding at local gay bars and LGBT Centers. I discovered a very large mastermind group to share my experiences with and get great advice and guidance from.
I personally relish my life of soloprenuership. It affords me the freedom and luxury to live in a way that I’d never have dreamed possible back in the days when my boss would send me jet setting around the world at a moment’s notice. Yes, I realize that sounds glamorous, but when you aren’t prepared to go from London to Hong Kong, it can be a real conundrum.
Soloprenuership, not unlike identifying yourself as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender is a coming out process. You’re afraid of what people might think. You don’t know exactly what’s going to happen but you’re excited by the prospects of being who you really want to be. And, even if you don’t know exactly how to be a soloprenuer, there’s nothing quite like saying this is who I know I am now let’s step out of that closet door and be the best I can be.
If you’re a struggling or virgin solopreneur ready to find the work life balance you need to create happiness, joy, and abundance that enables you to kiss corporate America goodbye, hit Rick up for a complimentary “It’s your life make it work” coaching session.