Many years ago, in fact so many years ago I don’t want to admit how many, Bill, a contractor that I was working with asked me:
“Don’t you want to work for yourself?”
I answered with an emphatic “NO!”
At the time I was working in a job I really loved despite the regular 80+ hours per week, extensive travel and not quite average paycheck. I worked with people I enjoyed and who challenged me. I enjoyed a level of autonomy that allowed me to learn and grow in my career, plus I respected and trusted my supervisors. There were far more pluses than minuses when I considered my position.
I listed all the reasons to Bill that I didn’t want to work for myself. I added that I didn’t want to have the responsibility of owning my own business. I didn’t want to be the sole decision maker. I didn’t want the success or failure of the business on my shoulders. We had that conversation many times over the span of a few years until he moved on to other projects.
After he had gone on to other opportunities, my work life took many unexpected turns. I experienced job changes due to a merger, an acquisition, the dissolving of my department, and a layoff after the 2007 crash. All the turmoil in those years convinced me that I had little power and control over what occurred. Despite my hard work, contributions to the company’s overall success, I was often just a chess piece to play in the grander corporate scheme.
Those conversations with Bill marinated in my subconscious and would bubble up when I considered my future. Did I really want to work for myself? All the reasons Bill presented became so much more persuasive:
- Total autonomy
- Unlimited earning potential
- Ability to set your own schedule
- Creating something for yourself
I started to consider that self-employment as a viable option for my life.
But let’s be honest here. Jumping from a corporate job to self-employment requires a different thought process each and every day. For success, your mindset has to be different if you want to be in self-employed.
You have seen the posts “How I made $xx last month and only worked xx hours!”
(You might think that is too good to be true, or that the numbers are cooked. The reality is that the post perhaps doesn’t detail the months or years they worked to arrive at the point where they can work 10 hours a month from an exotic beach and make thousands of dollars. Or that the 6 months before that record-breaking monthly income they were only pulling in enough to pay the bills as they prepared for a launch of a new product or business. That is a different discussion we can look at later.)
If you are sitting in your office, slogging through another long commute, or sitting on another plane to visit another client when you see that post you have to ask yourself: on my current path will I ever be able to make $xx amount of money in a month and only work xx hours?
You wonder: What does that person do that I don’t do? What does she know that I don’t know?
The answer is that person with the incredible monthly income while sipping sangria on the beach has mastered a different mindset.
Mindset is defined as a mental attitude or a fixed state of mind.
You have to determine for yourself if you have the solopreneur mindset – or if you can develop it.
So, what is the solopreneur mindset? There are many qualities that make you successful, whether in a job or striking out on your own. Successful people have these in common:
- Take responsibility for your life and your decisions.
- Always learn – new skills, ideas, and viewpoints.
- View setbacks as challenges and obstacles as opportunities.
- Written goals.
No matter what you are doing in life, if you have these qualities you will enjoy success. For me, there is one defining question that prompted me to rethink my mindset:
Do you need a job or an income?
What’s the difference? That is the answer you have to find for yourself and when you do find that answer you will know if you have a solopreneur mindset.
For years I wanted a job. I wanted the security of a paycheck. I wanted to contribute but I didn’t want the decision-making responsibility. After the turmoil of mergers, acquisitions, and layoffs I realized I needed an income. And I was willing, in fact, anxious and eager, to be responsible for that income. All the decisions, all the risk, all the hard work and long hours, all the uncertainty are mine. I own it and now I have an income and a lifestyle that is mine.
I haven’t yet reached the point of working from an exotic beach. However, I am happy to say that if that is what I want to do, then it is within the realm of possibilities on my current path. And that is MY mindset.
What is your one question, or ‘Aha’ moment, when you realized that you had a solopreneur mindset? Please leave a comment below.