While listening to a podcast last Monday, I was reminded of a term I heard years ago but had purposely forgotten about. It’s the word “Solopreneur.” The term is not new but has not been used a great deal in the past few years. However, it’s having a resurgence of use as more and more people launch out on their own and shun the corporate track. In this instance the speaker was warning against becoming a Solopreneur. He stated that it was a path that all true entrepreneurs needed to avoid.
A simple difference between the two terms, Entrepreneur and Solopreneur, is that an Entrepreneur typically builds a business with the hopes that someday that business will be able to be sold to a corporate giant like Google. Then the Entrepreneur moves on to the next dream with huge amounts of cash in their pockets. It’s why you see so many people trying to brand themselves on social media. The hope is to one day sell your influence, your brand, and your business for a huge profit.
The term “Solopreneur” usually is referring to someone who is entrepreneurial but they have no desire to manage and develop a big company. Instead, they are content to do the work of a business.
I’m not sure how you work, but I’m kind of a hybrid. I had people tell me I should stop working in my business and work on it. For the last 20 years I have both managed and worked in my businesses making me what I call a “Soloentrepreneur.” I love it! I don’t have intentions of selling my businesses and I really get great satisfaction of doing a lot of the daily work. At the same time I manage over thirty employees. But I have had more than one coach tell me I am limiting my profitability by running my businesses this way.
All of the sudden when I heard the term, I looked up and it was as if there was this giant neon success scoreboard right in front of me. It startled me! Even though it was invisible to everyone else it was right there in my minds’ eye bigger than life. It was just like all the jumbo trons you see in the arenas. You can’t ignore it because it has a new message flashing across the board every three seconds. When I stop to look at the scoreboard I have the horrible realization – I am not leading in this game. In fact, almost everyone else seems to be ahead of me. Worst of all the clock in the center is still steadily ticking down and time is running out.
One of my friends just sold his business and I didn’t. Score is 0-1. (It doesn’t matter that I don’t plan to sell any of my businesses…). Another friend has just begun franchising her business establishing storefronts in two other states – Score 0-2 (It doesn’t matter that I don’t want to franchise…). I must be falling behind…then that competitive nature kicks in and I think what do I do now? How do I catch up and get ahead? I really do want to be at the top of the scoreboard. I’ve got to come up with a new plan and sink a three-pointer before the buzzer.
The truth is that this random encounter startled me and now I am stalled and for this very moment all progress towards my goals stop. For me it was the distinction between two methods of seeing a dream come to reality. For you it may be something totally diffferent. But at some point we run into something that distracts us and stops us in our tracks. In that moment our dreams becomes second to what others are doing. We begin to re-evaluate, re-assess, and re-think our plans and goals. The result is that we are momentarily paralyzed.
Worst of all in my case – yesterday I was perfectly happy and was thinking things were on track. It was an awesome day and I felt like I was cranking on all cylinders. But then that one podcast, that one chance encounter caused me to doubt my course, my chosen direction, and my goals.
As I tried to regain my momentum I had to bring several “E! Family truths” back into view. Maybe today they will give you some help and hope:
*My race is just that, MY race. I will always come up short if I compare my progress, achievements, talents, and abilities with someone else’s.
*My goals and ideas don’t need to win a standing ovation from everyone around me. They really don’t even need the approval of others.
*Make my priorities those that I determine. Not those dictated to me by Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, or even a podcast!
*Have confidence in the things that are going well. Celebrate what is good right now. Don’t become consumed about what you may be missing.
*Stay in your my lane. Put blinders on and run hard. Don’t look at those ahead and don’t stop to look at what’s going on behind me. Keep running.
*Don’t stop too long to contemplate the scoreboard. There are more people that sit dreaming about the scoreboard than running the bases. They dream about what it would feel like to hit a home run. But in truth they never even walk to the plate and take a swing. But boy, do they sure dream about it a lot!
That last truth is particularly important because I believe it’s not the scoreboard we see in our mind’s eye that is important, it’s the one we can’t see. The lives we touch, the people we influence, that is ultimately what counts on the scoreboard of this life. I believe that there is no way to measure our real progress this side of eternity.
On Monday I heard that podcast. On Tuesday I had a chance encounter that left me more convinced that the E! Family truths were exactly what I needed to focus on.
I was in a meeting with a group of people I thought I had never met before. As the meeting wound down one of the young men turned to me and said, “I know you don’t remember me but I was at Masterworks over ten years ago. The school had a profound influence on me. I selected my major based on my lessons there and today I am employed full time in an arts job here at this firm that I love.”
The thought quickly flashed in my head, “he shoots and he scores.”