This is the debut of a new feature at The Solopreneur Life. It’s called Featured Soloist, and I am very excited about it! Each Featured Soloist will give us a glimpse at a solopreneur’s life, so we can gain new insights that can be applied to our solo businesses. I hope you enjoy it! If you would like to be the Featured Soloist, please send me an e-mail, Larry@TheSolopreneurLife.com.
Name of solopreneur
Name of business and city
Los Angeles, California
Web site address
Type of business
Qualitative market research
When did you officially go into business?
Why did you start your own business?
I had worked in advertising and although I successfully climbed the corporate ladder, I began to grow more and more frustrated feeling that my opportunities to grow and contribute at my full potential were limited by the constraints of being part of a bigger organization. I wanted to try my hand at making a go of it on my own.
What was the best thing you did when you were starting up your business?
Despite the conventional wisdom and advice of many people, I actually did not have a master plan and this turned out to be more helpful than I would have thought. Without something etched in stone, I was able to remain flexible so I could evolve and adjust to new realities, aligning my talent and interests with the marketplace as it did its own zigs and zags.
What is a mistake that you made that you have learned from?
It’s a mistake to give clients exactly what they ask for just to keep them happy (unless you think it will solve their problem). In the end, what makes a client happy is getting breakthrough learning—and achieving this means sometimes adjusting plans a bit. Clients are happiest when they get more than they imagined was possible and pulling this off can mean pushing beyond a comfort zone to find the golden nugget that lives way outside the box.
What is your biggest current challenge in the business and what are you doing to try to solve it?
Staying creative and innovative given shrinking budgets and timelines. Clients feel pressure to do more with less, especially over the past year, and the burden falls squarely on my shoulders to provide fresh, original thinking despite time and cost constraints. I need to always remain open and curious and push myself to figure out new ways of designing research so that originality or creativity are never compromised, even when timelines and resources are.
As a solopreneur, it’s also a challenge to fill the pipeline for new business while juggling the demands of current projects. I continually struggle with this—there’s just so much time in the day. That said, I’m committing more time each week to marketing and filling the pipeline than I have in the past and trying to look at this effort as productive and useful rather than a distraction from current client work.
What are your goals for 2010?
To expand my business in the online arena. I’ve been amazed at the power that online technology brings to the discovery of consumer insights and I want to develop new ways of harnessing this technology as a mechanism for market research.
Where do you want to be with the business in five years?
To have online research become a majority portion of my business.
What are your main software programs?
Word, PowerPoint, Excel, QuickBooks, Things, Evernote, iMovie, Photoshop
What’s your advice for aspiring solopreneurs?
To learn to love the fact that both success and failure rests squarely on your own shoulders. Know that nothing lasts forever—good or bad times—so remain agile and stay connected to other people. Working as a solopreneur shouldn’t mean being disconnected: others are important to your sanity and success, so work hard to keep connections with others strong and solid.
Are you glad you became a solopreneur? Why or why not?
Absolutely. I love the freedom to plan my day based on workload, my own mood or anything else. I also appreciate that I’m the person responsible for making things happen, in both good and bad times. There is a downside, however. I love collaborating with others and miss the energy and juice I get from working closely with other people. Sometimes I go to a coffee shop just to feel some human energy!