How to persevere as a solopreneur

Written on May 17, 2011 by in Business savvy

Last month, I announced my new baby to the world, to the sound of…silence.  Immediately, my months of hard work spent designing and developing a workshop to support wedding and portrait photographers in identifying their unique vision and manifesting a differentiated style and brand seemed fruitless. As a friend said when we talked about it, “Kinda makes you want to pack up all of your toys and go home, doesn’t it?” Yep, I was right there.

Then I realized something. We all occasionally feel like no one cares about us or what we’re doing. And let’s be honest, often they don’t. We’re as guilty of getting wrapped up in our own lives and failing to pay attention to what friends and family are doing, much less what’s going on outside our inner circle, as everyone else.

And when you’re one little ol’ person trying to change an industry, as I am, the message can be even harder to get out there. As Mahatma Gandhi said:

First they ignore you,
then they ridicule you,
then they fight you,
then you win.

Yikes, so that means I’m just on the first step of this journey?! I still have ridicule and fighting to go. Ok, then…

…I guess the question is, “How do we persevere?”

Realize that you’re not alone in feeling this way. We all feel unsupported sometimes. And we feel alone in our aloneness, as if everyone else has endless support and we’re the only ones struggling. But that’s just not true. I remember looking at the popular people back in high school and thinking that their lives were perfect. And then I dug deeper. I listened to their stories of being ignored by their parents or dealing with eating disorders. I realized that no one’s life is perfect; everyone suffers. Thank goodness suffering, like everything else in life, is impermanent. “Tomorrow is another day,” as Scarlett O’Hara said.

Feeling abandoned on the shore while everyone else lives the high life? You’re not alone. (Artwork inspiration by ARTindividual on Etsy)

Understand that entrepreneurism can be a lonely journey, and that you will have to be strong to survive. As a solopreneur, you are the captain of your ship (and the first mate, the deckhand, the cook and the galley washer). Friends and family may be supportive, but often they won’t understand exactly what you’re going through, having never embarked on a similar path. Some may even appear unsupportive because they want to protect you from being hurt or to preserve the status quo. We each have to decide if our goal is worth the struggle, and remember our decision when times get tough. (Darn it, and just like that, I’m singing that old Billy Ocean song in my head.) Anyway…

Remember that almost nothing important and meaningful comes easily. This is a hard one for me to remember because, when I look back at other things I’ve accomplished in my life, I see them as easy and enjoyable. My husband assures me that is rose-colored reality, a remembrance of how wonderful being in the flow felt when I loved what I was doing, even when the work was challenging. Which brings me to…

Try to stay in the flow by doing things your way vs. how you think you should do them. A lot of people have a lot of advice on how things should be done if you want to be successful, but their success has little to do with yours. If something doesn’t feel good and keep you in the zone, then you might need to try a new approach.

Ask yourself if you want it [whatever it is] badly enough to keep going. Runners I know tell me that everyone hits a wall during a race — a time when they’re tired and want to quit — and they have to choose what’s more important, the immediate gratification of rest or the long-term satisfaction of achievement. We, too, must weigh the perceived value of winning our ultimate prize against the pain of our past and present. And don’t forget to…

Acknowledge the support you are already receiving. It can be easy to focus on the negative: the requests for assistance that go unanswered, the blog posts that get no comments, the subscriber list that seems stuck at 12 or 34 or 104. So we must consciously look for the positives. “Where have I received support or encouragement recently?,” we must ask.

Has my website traffic gone up? Yep, it’s increased 300% since last month! Have my friends posted on Facebook or Twitter about me? Yes! And two friends took the whole workshop as I was creating it, gave me amazingly positive feedback and also some good advice to make it even better next time. So, life’s actually pretty good, isn’t it? Yes, I think it is.

What about for you?

Cheers,
Kate-signature

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11 Comments

  1. Katarina
    May 17, 2011

    It’s a shame I didn’t know about the workshop, because I would definitely not ignore it.
    Well, at least I found your blog so now I can keep an eye on the next one.

    • Kate Watson
      May 17, 2011

      Hi Katarina: Welcome & thank you for your comment! I stopped by your website and Etsy site – very nice. “Soft Skin” is lovely.

  2. Stacey
    May 17, 2011

    Perseverance, stubbornness… call it what you may, but it’s definitely a necessity :)

    Thanks for this!

    • Kate Watson
      May 17, 2011

      Thanks for chiming in, Stacey! Loved your pillows on Etsy.

  3. Christine Pensa
    May 17, 2011

    Perseverance can be especially hard for creative people. I have been there in the past. I am a little bit there now too! I remind myself that 10 years ago I didn’t even have the nerve to call myself an artist and today of course it’s such a part of who I am I don’t think about it. Everyone’s journey has both joys and sorrows. Embrace and release them all – and move forward spreading your wings with anticipation.

    • Kate Watson
      May 17, 2011

      Thanks, Christine, for your beautiful and helpful words. I visited your site – LOVE your manifesto! And your figurative art is so bold and powerful.

  4. Meg
    May 17, 2011

    Thank you so much for sharing these words with the world. Your insights are valuable and very much appreciated (and your workshop sounds like a fabulous idea…if I knew any photographers, I would point them your way).

    And I am right there with you. You are not alone.

    ~Meg
    Meg recently posted..Inspiration Tuesday- The pencil-necked weasel edition

  5. Kate Watson
    May 18, 2011

    Hi Meg: Thank you for your kind words. Too bad you’re not located in Florida; I would love a creative movement or dance class for adults. Good luck with your next workshop!

  6. Christie
    May 19, 2011

    I seriously love this blog post (and your Gandhi quote). I recently got laid off from my job (a job I sort of hated, mind you, but one that paid the bills). I’ve always planned to open my own (full-time) business, but I’ve been dragging my feet because I’m feeling a little beat down. Thank you for the words of encouragement. I’m your newest follower. :-)
    Christie recently posted..outfitted- raindrops on roses

    • Kate Watson
      May 19, 2011

      Hi Christie: Been there, and have some idea of what you’re going through. You are not alone. :-) Welcome, and thanks for following!

  7. […] about what happens when you throw a party and no one shows up. About a week later, I came across this post by Kate of Art Aligned…and I knew I wasn’t the only one dealing with this. There’s solidarity and […]


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