Why Solopreneurs Struggle With Burnout

Solopreneur burnout

Being a solopreneur means being an entrepreneur that runs everything in the business.

There are many advantages to this kind of business model.

Thanks to the web, working solo is possible for more people than ever before.

The notion of running an entire business empire single-handed would have seemed like an impossible pipe-dream only a few years ago.

Today though, this is what more and more people are living as their reality.

The internet is such a powerful force multiplier that it allows many people to truly become “digital polymaths.”

Take video game development as a perfect example.

Once upon a time, during the days of the ZX Spectrum, the BBC Micro the Atari, and other early personal computer hardware, it was possible for a single developer to create a game in their basement.

They would then release it to the world to mass acclaim and an impressive income.

But then computers improved, and games became more complex, with photo-real graphics and animation.

Today, the budget for a “AAA” title is gigantic.

We’re talking Hollywood gigantic.

Complex game projects require thousands of people working around the clock for years.

For a time it was impossible for a single developer to compete with the major game studios.

But then things changed.

Tools like Unreal Engine and Unity provided ready-made physics and graphics rendering pipelines, even providing drag-and-drop interfaces for developers to streamline production.

Then came freely available assets such as 3D models, music, textures and more.

All these add-ons created by the developer community and distributed with a creative commons license.

This meant that often use of these tools was completely free.

Suddenly, a single developer could leverage powerful tools and the hard work and creativity of the community.

They could harness these tools to develop a game that looks almost as impressive as one built by a much larger studio.

The online gaming industry saw the rise of the “indie developer.”

Solo projects like Hyper Light Drifter, Undertale, Minecraft, Thomas Was Alone, Stardew Valley, Spelunky, Braid, Cave Story and others have gone on to sell millions of copies!

Then there are the distribution platforms that allow individual creators to upload their projects to be easily discovered.

There are video and photo editing tools that make it easier than ever before to create marketing materials.

And there are forums, social media platforms, and SEO, that help creators to reach a massive audience.

A single person can now be an entire games business.

By taking this route a solo game developer can potentially reap HUGE rewards.

Not only do they get to bring to life their creative vision, but they also get to take home all the profit for themselves.

Building a game is not an easy project, though.

It still requires a huge amount of hard work, coding skill, passion, and creativity.

The most successful indie games also manage to sidestep the issue of “photorealism”.

They adopt striking graphical styles that help them to stand out, while also reducing the amount of work necessary for the creator.


Technology Empowers Solopreneurs

But games are just one example of how tools can empower solopreneurs to take on much larger organisations in the same industry.

There are countless other examples of this: from owners of successful blogs to creators of highly popular YouTube channels.

You can be an affiliate marketer.

You can make money reselling hats or any other physical product.

The latter is a business model that has been particularly transformed by the power of the web.

Thanks to marketplace sites like Alibaba it’s now possible to work directly with manufacturers that will produce your products and ship them directly to your customers.

The best part is that they don’t even reveal themselves, meaning that, as far as the customer is concerned, you have your own factory!

Any of these business models are available to the proactive individual who is willing to learn and who knows how to spot an opportunity.

With a little creativity, you can even create your own business model that simply didn’t exist before!


The Struggle of Being a Solopreneur

But while the solopreneur lifestyle is liberating in many ways, it can also be extremely challenging.

That’s because it requires you to wear a lot of hats and to take full responsibility for every aspect of your business.

Even if you are simply running a blog and selling affiliate products, this can be a surprisingly challenging lifestyle.

Suddenly, there is no employer.

There is nobody who is going to take responsibility for your business.

There is no one to blame if things go wrong.

Likewise, there is no guaranteed payday.

There isn’t even guarantee that you’ll have work this time tomorrow.

Things can be going extremely well one day, and the next day be terrible.

What if Google removes your site from its listings and you can’t sell any more products?

What if your one big client moves on and you have a quiet spell lasting for months?

What if a shipment of products goes missing?

As the solopreneur, you must be ready to weather all these scenarios.

Not only that, but you must also make countless huge decisions.

You run a YouTube channel, and you want to sell an eBook from there.

But how much do you charge for it?

What eCommerce store do you use to sell your book?

What if your loyal audience finds it offensive that you are now charging for information, and leave you?

What if the WooCommerce store crashes because you have an outdated PHP version on your server?

And what if that means you lose thousands of pre-orders?

And do you let that other creator you met upload videos to your channel?

What if those put off your viewers because it’s not what they came to see?

What if they like the other person’s content more than yours?


Managing a Work/Life Balance

Juggling work is also extremely difficult – especially if you want to maintain some semblance of a work/life balance.

This is especially true for a service provider.

In this scenario, there is no delineation between work hours and downtime.

That is to say, that you could work 9-5, but you could also work 9-9.

That latter option would mean you earn a LOT more money!

Do you really need to be relaxing in the evening when you could be getting closer to your goals?

What if you don’t finish your work on time?

Do you work a little more?

What if there’s something you want to buy?

Again, the number of variables is huge, and you are the only one who can make these decisions.

Even when you are “relaxing,” you will still be questioning whether you could be doing something more useful.

You might still be worrying that a piece of work wasn’t done to your best standard.

Then there are the emails from customers who couldn’t download/didn’t like their products.

And from clients who don’t like your work.

There are the comments on your YouTube videos from people who don’t understand what you’re trying to do and seem to have a vendetta against you.

It’s stressful!

You are, after all, a pioneer.


Avoid Burnout to Protect Your Wealth

With this new type of career, you need a new approach to health and productivity.

But here’s the thing: it’s not just about trying to “survive” in business.

The truth is that the more we improve our focus, energy, creativity, and health, the more we will produce.

As a solopreneur, everything you sell and everything that earns you money comes from you.

If you want to be more successful, that means that you need to produce more.

And if you’re going to produce more, then you need to manage your energy levels and focus.

You need to learn how to get the most from your brain and body.

This can result in a HUGE increase in your productivity and profits.

Because when you’re a solopreneur, learning how to double your output, means doubling your profit!


Next week we will take a look at ways of increasing your physical capacity and mental acuity to achieve more.

Written by 

Co-Founder & CEO of Link Management Group. An Investor & Coach to Small Business Owners, for the past 30 years I have helped startup and early-stage businesses to enter new markets and achieve sustainable growth of both revenue and profits. I have experience across a diverse range of sectors including central government, information services, software, health insurance, pet products, couture fashion, entertainment and aviation.  How can I help your organisation accelerate growth and achieve its full potential? 

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