The Struggles of Solo Entrepreneurs

The Struggles of Solo Entrepreneurs in 2023

Today, we\’re going to talk a little bit about the struggles solo entrepreneurs face in 2023. Actually, they\’re very similar to the struggles entrepreneurs faced in 2020, and even in the years leading up to that. These struggles, let\’s call them \”Evergreen,\” encompass various aspects. For example, we can discuss the limitations of time and resources. Time itself is a valuable resource. Additionally, we can explore the constraints of financial resources, where you have to work with what you have, and the persistent feeling that you don\’t have enough to reach your desired destination. This can lead to a vicious circle, fostering self-doubt and causing you to question your decisions. I can relate to this, as I have experienced it myself.


I believe that our internal beliefs play a significant role in our individual journeys as entrepreneurs. It\’s normal to grapple with self-doubt at times, unless you are a complete egomaniac. When you recognize your skills and acknowledge your limitations, you might compare yourself to others. Unfortunately, we often focus on our weaknesses, magnifying what we perceive as our shortcomings. However, I firmly believe that, like anything else in life, we can grow and develop strong faith in our creations, problem-solving abilities in the business world, and the capacity to scale and expand our businesses.

Beliefs and Success Stories

Many times, our beliefs are shaped by our initial experiences. If you think about it, most of the time, the first attempt at anything is not successful. From the moment we were babies learning to stand up and walk, we encountered failure before achieving success. During our younger years, there was a sense of anticipation and enjoyment accompanying each learning experience. However, as we grow older, some people might expect progress to come faster because of their age. But in reality, it doesn\’t matter whether you\’re twenty, forty, sixty, or even ten years old. When you attempt something for the first time, something completely new, you can\’t rely on past experiences to boost your confidence in the present. Often, all you have to draw from are the failures you experienced when you tried something a few times. Failure never feels good; hitting the bull\’s eye is always more satisfying than missing it. Yet, when you\’re trying to accomplish something you\’ve never done before, like building a successful business or earning a six-figure income, and all your previous attempts have resulted in failure, it becomes easy to project that same pattern onto the future. This is what I mean by negative belief.

I think that sometimes we\’re a little too hard on ourselves, and other times maybe not hard enough. We tend to make excuses and settle when there\’s really no reason to settle. I recall a question posed to Evander Holyfield, the former heavyweight World Champion, regarding his multiple marriages (he was on his 5th wife at the time). His response made me laugh. He said that he didn\’t get it right the first time, but he didn\’t give up. Nor did he get it right the second time, but he didn\’t give up either. Long story short, he had learned from each of his previous marriages, and by wife number 5, he felt he had finally become a good husband. Now, I understand that if we were discussing this topic with a group of people, particularly focusing on him as an individual, there would be diverse opinions for and against his actions. However, when we reflect on our own lives, we are each faced with a choice: to give up and conclude that we\’re not good at something, or to persist and keep trying. In the context of our conversation, we\’re referring to business. Just because you haven\’t succeeded before in something that may seem monumental right now doesn\’t mean you can\’t. Success stories and inspirational speeches are filled with individuals who were ordinary people but achieved extraordinary things. There\’s no reason why you can\’t do the same. The crucial question is whether you believe you have that capability within you. I believe you do. But what truly matters is whether you believe it yourself.

I hadn\’t initially planned to discuss beliefs. However, when I contemplate my own life, I can recall moments filled with belief and optimism about a project and my overall outlook for the near-term and long-term. I can also recall days within the same week where I woke up feeling the exact opposite, questioning whether I was on the right path, whether I should even be involved in the project. 

When you lack a solid anchor or foundation, you live your life based on how you feel, and often those feelings are illogical. One day, you may feel that things are going great, while the next day, you may feel that everything is going terribly, even though nothing outwardly has changed. These fluctuations are projections of your mind. Sometimes, you simply have to get out of your head, start taking action, and do the work. 

Struggles – Internal and Otherwise

There are internal struggles, and I can tell you that when you\’re not feeling particularly good on any given day, assuming there are no significant external factors such as a painful injury or the recent loss of someone close to you, feelings can fluctuate. I\’m not a strong advocate for medication. 

I come from a generation where medication was seen as a last resort, not the first. I believe that sometimes you need to focus on adding good things to your life, seeking positive reinforcements, rather than dwelling on removing bad things. The former stems from a positive place of hope, something you are adding and doing, while the latter originates from a position of failure, attempting to fix broken things. 

To offer a visual analogy, imagine having a bucket of dirty water and aiming to remove the dirt from it. You can either try to skim the dirt off the top or use a hose to flush the bad water out with the pressure of clean water flowing in. It\’s a simple analogy, but I\’ve found it to be effective, not only in life but also in business.

Fixing Problems When Time Isn’t On Your Side

Now consider how this can be applied to one of the most common challenges that entrepreneurs face: limited resources. As an individual, you may have limited financial resources, time constraints, family responsibilities, or a lack of manpower compared to larger businesses you feel you need to compete with. 

This makes it challenging to invest in marketing or outsource certain tasks, consequently impeding the growth of your business. It\’s important to acknowledge that these limitations are genuine and are indeed impacting your business. However, instead of dwelling solely on the problem, it\’s essential to start seeking solutions. This is where the real breakthrough happens, even if it takes time. Sometimes we reach for solutions in slow motion or overanalyze the most beneficial course of action, delaying our decision to act.

I Made Plenty of Mistakes During the Early Years

Some solutions may involve prioritizing our actions and identifying the key areas of our business where we need to focus our resources for optimal returns. Prioritizing investments should be the first step. In the past, when I had a small business, I found myself comparing my resources to those of fully grown and established companies. I just couldn’t help myself and it made me feel like I was in a losing race.

They had dedicated support teams and their own effective marketing systems. I didn\’t. However, the main obstacle affecting my life was cash flow. I just wasn’t making enough money. So, when it came to prioritizing my investments, I realized it was more effective to focus all my available resources on fixing one problem at a time. Instead of spreading my resources thin across multiple areas, I concentrated on addressing one challenge thoroughly. 

By doing so, I could allocate and focus my resources more efficiently, just like paying off credit card debts. I learned that by focusing on one card at a time, I could pay them off faster and free up more resources for the next card. Similarly, by directing my resources towards solving one problem completely, I could make significant progress and learn from the experience.

Now, sometimes when you look at your limitations, you have to ask the question: is it really that your resources of time and money are that limited? Or is it really more of a matter of you trying to do too many things?

For example, I’ve podcasted and have written about the benefits of having email newsletters before. Newsletters, in my experience, are great to have with most online businesses. Even if you have just a single article or two short articles in a newsletter, it can tick a whole bunch of boxes all at the same time, and it\’s only one activity. Sending it to your existing clients ensures you\’re not out of sight and out of mind. Even if you don\’t have anything to sell or upsell yet, it can be considered a marketing activity. You could talk about what\’s new in the industry, what people are talking about, things to be aware of, your five favorite (fill in the blank), and send it out to your client base.

Most of your competitors, if you\’re in a service-based industry, aren\’t doing that. Unless you\’re directly involved in a project, most of the people who pay for digital services and run digital service companies are out of sight and out of mind unless there\’s a problem or something needs to be updated. This is one of the things that enabled me to grow my business. I spent my personal time investing in communicating with my existing customer base. I wasn\’t out of sight, out of mind with most of them. Some of them didn\’t want to hear from me or didn\’t want my newsletters, but they were a small percentage of my total client base. Everyone else appreciated the fact that I was reaching out to them, making sure everything was okay, and thinking of ways to improve what they were doing. They appreciated that none of my competitors were doing that.

Now, let\’s fast forward to today in 2023. I\’ve been in this business for 25 years, and very few people can say that they\’ve had the same clients for two decades in a row. Most of my competitors have a large amount of client turnover and some have even gone out of business. I learned this from the entrepreneurs of previous generations. Those who went out of their way to have personal interaction with their customer base and clients were the ones whose businesses and ventures stood the test of time.

So, getting back to prioritizing your investments, if you\’re a small business, you can do things that large businesses cannot. You\’ll rarely find a large business competitor having a personal connection of any kind with their clients. One of the easiest ways to do this is with a newsletter or personalized newsletter correspondence. 

The nice thing about it is that it allows you to stay connected with people and show them that you care about the challenges they\’re facing and how you can help them overcome those challenges.

Now, let\’s circle back to the time management challenge. Time is definitely a resource that we all have a limited amount of, regardless of our income status or the kind of business we\’re managing. Even multimillionaires and billionaires admit to working long hours. They may have teams, but as the leaders, there is always a demand on their time. The work is always there, even if they\’re on vacation or taking a break. So, managing time effectively is a challenge regardless of the size of the business.

When I first started my agency business, I looked at it the way many service providers did at that time—I was trading time for money. Eventually, I recognized that even if I had enough service-oriented work to fill all of my billable hours, I still wouldn\’t be making enough money. So, I asked myself if I wasn\’t charging enough. However, if I raised my rates, I would have lost many, if not most, of my existing clients. I realized I needed a different kind of clientele to achieve my goals, but the idea of going after them was overwhelming. The thought of facing an army of competitors and the challenge of connecting with clients who had deeper pockets seemed daunting.

As a side note, consider this question: How long do you think the average high-dollar agency keeps its clients? On average, it\’s around 3.2 years. Some stay longer, some stay less. 

High dollar clients come and go. I’ve talked with some big decision makers over the years and sometimes companies change things up just for the sake of changing things up. Other times, it’s to save a little money. The bottom line is, even contractors who do everything right can find themselves being replaced.

It\’s kind of like winning a championship in sports. How long do you think you can defend the title? What happens when you lose the client? How do you respond to the loss of income and  what type of stress comes with that? 

In a perfect world, we’d put in most of our energy to build the business upfront. Then, we get paid dividends on the back end. With a good business model, the maintenance part is much easier than the building phase. Unfortunately, some business models are higher-stress businesses all the way through from the start to the finish.

Is There a Better Way Forward for You?

Now that you understand this concept, doesn\’t it become easier to devise a plan as a solo entrepreneur? Consider adopting a business model that involves multiple streams of online income instead of relying on a single large stream. I firmly believe that having multiple streams of online income is equally crucial for most individuals who are starting and establishing themselves in today\’s world. These multiple streams will contribute significantly to their financial well-being in the years to come, with the hope that they are still here. It is comparable to how a diversified portfolio is essential for an investment manager. Diversification provides the necessary security and endurance that other approaches to business growth may lack.

At this point, you might be wondering, how do I actually go about creating multiple streams of online income? Additionally, you might recall old parables that caution against chasing two rabbits and failing to catch either. Shouldn\’t I just focus on building one thing? I believe this is an excellent question to consider.

What Does Your Big Picture Look Like?

I believe it\’s important to start with the foundation. Let\’s consider how many online businesses you own. For instance, if someone has four websites, does that mean they have four separate businesses? What if each website sells different products? To draw a comparison, let\’s think about a retail store. Both online businesses and retail stores are enterprises. Can a single retail store sell men\’s sportswear, women\’s sportswear, and camping gear all at once? What about offering candy or refrigerator drinks at the checkout? Can a store sell all these items and still be considered a single business, or do they require separate businesses for each product? 

The answer to all these questions is no—a single store can have multiple departments. Similarly, when it comes to your mindset, you can consider your online ventures as a single business. Just as a retail store follows these principles, an online business can sell multiple products under your personal brand.

Some of these products may be created by you, while others you may simply be an affiliate for. Sometimes it makes sense to have multiple websites dedicated to different types of products. However, why not bring them all under a single brand—your personal brand? Doing so makes everything much easier, from marketing to advertising and all other aspects of your business. 

The point is, the online business world is rewriting a lot of the rules. So don\’t hesitate to expand your vision of what your business can be. Instead of offering a singular solution, it may be more beneficial to think in terms of offering multiple solutions and plan for the future with that perspective in mind.

Why box yourself into a building what amounts to a more stressful, traditional type of business? You have options. It took a while for me to see it, but once I did, I couldn’t unsee it.

My hope is that it will be the same with you! 

Thanks for reading!