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Entrepreneurs Panel

Charlie Mullins
Debbie Pierce
Julie Meyer
Richard O'Sullivan
David Pollock
Michael Oliver
Laura Tenison
Jennie Johnson
Brian Hay
Tony Caldeira
Jeremy Roberts
Steve Purdham

Positives and negatives of being a solo-preneur

Sue Vizard, business coach and author of Jump Start: The Start-up Book for Your Dream Business, looks at some of the questions solo entrepreneurs should ask themselves.

"The Big Wide World will see you now. Please step this way..."

What if we needed to pass an interview in order to become a "solo-preneur"? A terrifying thought. And yet, wouldn't it be a worthwhile exercise to prepare ourselves to perform creditably at the solo-preneur interview? Think also of the positives that would come out of this exercise. You would understand if your CV fits the job description and whether the remuneration is worth the effort - the potential positives and negatives, for you, of accepting the solo-preneur role. How would you prepare for the interview? By understanding how you'd answer the age old questions of course.

"Tell me the key skill you think is needed to be a successful Solo-preneur?"

A few months ago, I hosted a network event and asked the attendees, who were all self-employed, this very same question. Gratifyingly, computer skills was not top of their list of answers.

Surprisingly, they responded that one of the most important abilities was that of being able to trust their instincts. What does that mean? After discussion, it was agreed that a solo-preneur, especially a new start, will sooner or later find themselves in a situation that they have not met before and that was not covered in the free Business Gateway training day. When all that will save them from future emotional pain or financial loss is listening to that little voice in their head and feeling in their gut; their instincts.

Here's a real example. A 23-year-old graphic designer I know is currently facing the dilemma that her first big paying client is a coach who told her he can bully and hypnotise homosexuals into becoming heterosexual. Now that she knows this, her instinct is to stop working for him, but she is a new business and he is a paying client. What a dilemma. Continue to work for a client whose values are completely different from hers, or refuse future business with this person?

In order to pass the interview with the Big Wide World, you will need to display strong instinctive ability. Is it possible to show proof of this ability? I believe so. As part of your preparation for this role, I suggest that you have a clear idea about your personal values. What is important to you? Is there anything that you are not prepared to do? Or anybody you'd rather not work with? One of the positives of being a solo-preneur is that you are responsible for defining the membership rules for your business; that's you, your employees and your clients. Take time to define and communicate your values statement, it will strengthen your position should you come across a situation where your gut instincts scream "No"! Your solo-preneur job application should include your values statement. The downside of this? A solo-preneur with values must be congruent with those values. Walk your talk.

"Tell me the key strengths you will bring to this role."

Do you understand exactly what it is that you bring to your business and clients? Remember that your strengths are your potential weaknesses. So answering this question will also highlight areas where you need to be vigilant.

What are likely strengths for the perfect candidate for the solo-preneur role? The key strengths I would be looking for are tolerance, positivity and open mindedness. I can hear some screams of disbelief. And you'd be right, the flip side of these strengths are displayed in "easygoingnothinghappening dude" businesses.

Another lesson from talking with fellow business people is that many assume it is their responsibility to do everything in their business and are so hard on themselves when they fail, or when they perceive that they have failed. That approach helps no one and can often cripple a solo-preneur with self-doubt.

The open-minded solo-preneur has taken time to understand her strengths and weaknesses. She plays to her strengths, which tend to be the areas that she enjoys. She is tolerant of her failings - and those of other people. She learns from her mistakes without giving up or becoming bitter and she looks to enjoy every situation. An open-minded solo-preneur listens, questions, adapts and can easily detach from a toxic situation and move on. Please do a SWOT analysis on yourself.

If you are a solo-preneur, or thinking of becoming one, take time to prepare for your interview with the Big Wide World. When you are clear about your values, skills, strengths and weaknesses, you have a greater understanding about what you are expecting from yourself, and others, in this independent role.

"Do you really want this job?"

If the answer is yes then even the negatives of being a solo-preneur become the positives.

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