by Kathleen Durham of KD SpaceLifts
In the past year, almost 1 million people have joined the ranks of ‘independent workers’ in the US, bringing the tally to 17 million, according to Virginia-based business consulting firm MBO Partners. Their second annual “State of Independence” career study, released last month, indicates that the solo entrepreneur, or solopreneur, career path is a growing trend despite economic uncertainties.
Who are these independent workers? They are people who work 15 or more hours a week in non-traditional, full or part-time employment. They identify themselves as consultants, freelancers, contractors, self-employed or on-call workers. The gender makeup is almost evenly split between men and women, and crosses the age spectrum from Generation Y (ages 21-32), Generation X (33-49), and Baby Boomers (50-66). Solopreneurs are represented in almost every business field.
The success of a solopreneur depends on hard work as well as the ability to connect and close a deal. Every aspect of the business falls upon the shoulders of one person, who performs the duties of an administrative assistant, bookkeeper, marketing department and sales force. To survive, an independent worker must be thorough, efficient and totally mobile.
Achieving these goals can be a challenge when the office is a kitchen table or coffee shop. While the client might not care whether you have a conference room or a coffee nook, he does care about quality of work and professional image. Organization and presentation are key components in maintaining a successful solopreneur business. In working with solopreneurs, I recommend a focus on several key areas:
Separation of Business & Personal
Even though most independent workers put in far more than the usual 40 hours a week, business life should not engulf your entire life. Start with a physical separation of work space, even if it is as simple as a dedicated portion of counter space. Just as you carefully plan your business day, set aside time when you will NOT work and dedicate those hours to family or personal relationships. Establishing boundaries and balance will reduce stress and boost morale.
If you cannot access your files when you are away from your home computer, you are cheating your business. There are many tools and applications available on the electronic market that will allow you to synchronize your phone, iPad, Mac or PC. These will allow you to easily share data, photos or videos with a client.
Solopreneurs must establish a framework for incoming jobs. How does the work come to you? What steps do you take after first contact with a client? Once you get the job, how does the work progress and what are your standards for client communication?
Despite the challenging road a solopreneur travels on the way to business success, the “State of Independence” report found that 71 percent of independent workers had a high level of satisfaction with their work lifestyle, proving what many have always suspected: being your own boss IS a good thing.
© 2012 Kathleen Durham, KD Space Lifts. All Rights Reserved.
Kathleen ("KD") Durham is owner of KD SpaceLifts; dedicated to helping businesses improve efficiency and productivity through the organization of intangible spaces (workflow, systems, processes and procedures) as well as tangible spaces such as the physical workspace.