A Back to Basics Business Guide for the Solopreneur

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Whether you are self-employed, a solopreneur, an entrepreneur, an independent contractor, or some other microbusiness owner, the fact is, the smart self-bossers stop and take inventory from time to time. Sometime they discover that they’ve lost sight of the very things that brought them success in the first place. Getting back to basics is often the path to getting back on track.

The basics for creating successful self-employment are so simple that it’s easy to dismiss the fundamentals as not sophisticated enough in our 21st Century world.

What a mistake. Many of these basic principles can carry us into longevity. I was reminded of that by a very young person. Here’s what happened:

One day I was busily working on some writing revisions when a call came in on Skype from my daughter, Jennie, who called to ask me to settle a mother/daughter dispute. Jennie had told 4 1/2 year old Zoe that when she was a little girl she’d made books and went door to door selling them to our neighbors.

Zoe loved the idea and promptly recognized a hot business opportunity right on her street. It was also a natural for this pint-sized artist. However, Jennie wasn’t comfortable with the idea, being new in the neighborhood and all.

I listened to both sides (although Zoe was more whiney than persuasive) of the story, then suggested to Zoe that she sell to people she already knew. “I’d buy one,” I said. “How much is it?”

Zoe perked right up. “Zero dollars,” she said. I suggested she rethink her pricing. We finally decided that $3.00 would be the right price.

“I bet Margaret and Jim and Becky would each buy one, too,” I said, committing my siblings who didn’t even know about this fabulous product we were envisioning.

Then I asked Zoe if she took checks or credit cards or if this was a cash only business. Jennie chimed in and said they weren’t set up for credit card sales. “That’s not a problem,” I said . “I’ll tuck $3.00 into Zoe’s Valentine.”

Then Jennie asked, “Would you like to have it mailed or would you prefer to wait and pick it up when you visit us in a couple of weeks?” I said I’d be happy to wait. “Oh, Zoe,” she said, “she’s saving you shipping and handling.”

Zoe broke into a big grin as if I’d done her a huge favor. She went off to begin production.

So here’s what Zoe learned that timid people ten times her age haven’t figured out yet. In order to start a business, all you need to do is:

1) find a product/service you love

2) then find your first customer

Now you’re in business. Period. Begun. Open. Then just do it again. And again.

More Success Basics for the Self-Employed

  • Master the art of doing more with less.
  • Find an entrepreneurial friend. Several are even better. Take the initiative to be in touch with them on a regular basis for sharing encouragement, ideas and inspiration.
  • Master using your imagination more and your pocketbook less. Even after you’ve got a healthy cash flow, make creative thinking one of your power tools.
  • Ask better questions. Ask for help.
  • Be helpful.
  • Be prepared to talk about your business anytime, any place where it’s appropriate. That means never leaving home without your business cards and brochures, if you use them.
  • Create a positive personal mantra and live up to it.
  • Be flexible.
  • Keep building an Option Bank of ideas and possibilities. Add to it often and withdraw as needed.
  • Regularly take inventory and review. What’s working? What needs work? What needs to be eliminated? Expanded?
  • Give up being anonymous. Communicate and participate. Hiding out is not a business building  basic.
  • Make inspiration a high priority and take responsibility for keeping yours alive.
  • Instigate, don’t wait.


Besides being  Zoe’s grandmother, Barbara J. Winter has been helping others make a living without a job for a quarter century. She regularly conducts seminars and retreats throughout the US and elsewhere.