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19 FEBRUARY 2019

written by Mike

IS SOLOPRENEURSHIP

WORTH IT?

 

You may have noticed that being an entrepreneur, running a business, even freelancing became quite trendy in recent years. It seems that everyone is working towards being their own boss, having freedom of choice and control over their day. Add to that, with the development of the internet and global economy the focus is on individuality, ‘I’ has a more strength that it used to in the past.

When I talk to my grandmother, who was a refugee during communist oppression, her growing up and later life was much different from mine. It was all about community, being together and working towards goals that helped everyone around. Today, it is still about community but we all have an individual voice and a platform to project it.

Is it for better or for worse?

I can’t be a judge of that, but what I have learned is that running a team, or business works better with the ‘old days’ mindset.

Being a part of a team means compromises. It means that you won’t always get your way, that sometimes you have to admit that your ideas may not be the best solution to a problem. 

When I left my job I knew that I wanted to do something on my own – to be my own boss, make my own decisions. However, I also understood the trap, working on the business is very different from working in the business. Creating a job for yourself is easy, but creating a self-sustaining machine that works without you – not so simple.

Being part of the team means synergy – a mix of ideas that bounce off each other, that grow together and form into one solution – it’s a creative process, and it comes with pain. Egos need to be stored away, individual ambitions left outside the door.

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It doesn’t matter if I’m talking about the bigger team which I was a part of in the past, or much smaller group working on Casefile podcast. The answer is clear – I wouldn’t be able to do it on my own.

I found that being a solopreneur offers freedom, but also has blind spots. Fortunately, when we left out jobs, it wasn’t just me – it was always my partner and I. If I wasn’t sure of something – she offered her point of view and vice versa.

Even a team of just two people had an exponential advantage over just being on my own. We tend to get fixated on ideas and develop a tunnel vision that omits better solutions to the problem. Another set of eyes and ears can and often will offer a fresh take on something that drives you mad for a long time.

Of course, some work can require the alone time – art, writing, composing to name a few. Once the tasks and goals are discussed between Casefile team, we go each way and do work on our own, without supervision. That’s where the creative process of being a solopreneur helps. In the above example, no one tells me how to edit, write music or mix the podcast – that’s my area of expertise.

After the tasks are completed, we get together again and offer feedback to each other – constructive input that it’s always welcomed. There may be something that I thought was a brilliant move, but other team members don’t think so we work hard to reach a consensus and make sure that the final, in this example podcast, is polished, so it satisfies all parties involved.

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Sometimes I like being alone, and other times I hate it. When I work I close the door and can get annoyed if someone interrupts my flow. However, I also need someone – a flatmate, my partner – to be in downstairs office. Someone I can ask for a second opinion and feedback when I get stuck.

It’s not always possible to have that, but the easiest way to overcome this is the internet. Besides being a part of a fantastic team and living with creative people, I’m also a part of online communities. There are so many people around the globe that share similar ideas and have the same problems.

It’s easy to post a question, a query and ask for feedback. There is a 99% chance that someone in the past had a similar problem to yours and found a solution. It’s much faster to follow that rather than spending time on finding the fix yourself.

We are tribal ‘animals’, communities and teams thrive when they work towards the same goals, the potential of group thinking is limitless.

Think about your favourite companies, music bands, films. It’s extremely rare that these projects came to fruition without any help, with just one person doing it all. Even authors have editors, marketers, PR companies and designers that help to publish a book. It may be just one name on the cover, but you can be sure that it was a team of dedicated people that helped to put it there.

Last but not least, running and being part of a team is difficult. I’m a fan of Ray Dalio’s take on that, his ideas of meritocracy and transparency. Dictatorships rarely work out, democracy can often lead to a standstill, but meritocracy can work wonders if done right. 

I don’t want to be negative on solopreneurs and like I said before, I enjoy being alone. However, my short professional experience taught me over and over again than having a team of people is always better than trying to figure out everything on my own.

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