Lessons in Solopreneurship (part 1)

Alison Gretz Avatar


Find Your New People

While I have a lovely group of friends and family, it’s a completely different experience to work solo. It’s a huge mindset shift, personal change, and uphill experience. Twisty and turn-y. The BEST thing I have done is connect with other new-ish entrepreneurs and independents. I’m part of the ​RunPollen community​, which has accelerated my learning (highly recommend). And I started a monthly breakfast with a small group of folks on the same journey. We can talk in the same language and it is AFFIRMING.


Start with Mindset: My Mantra… DO THE DAMN THING

There have been HUGE mindset shifts I needed to make. This has been the first time in 20 years that I’ve not had a “reliable” paycheck. 🤯 I’ve ALWAYS had predictable money coming in, and when that stopped… OOOFTA. I had to reckon with my self-worth, feeling like I was “wasting” my time if I wasn’t being hyper productive and earning. There were a few days/weeks where I had to allow my depression to just BE and process this. There are more times where I question my ability and confidence to build a somewhat sustainable business. Or am I just playing? (I love building so it is fun 🤩). My new people have helped me realize this is a continuous mindset and even a ongoing battle with my own mindset and brain. It’s “normal”?!


lean in to experimenting in public

I’ve found my background spanning design, content, marketing and product work to be SUPER helpful starting out. Dusting off some internet/tech savvy tools has been energizing, and I knew how to get going quickly and inexpensively. At first, I was very open about “finding my product-market-fit” where I was the product myself, and services or knowledge I could offer was the experiment. Really, it comes down to a value equation and market-readiness for what I am good at and enjoy doing. But after years in corporate and a burnout, what was that?! I got out of the house, and started networking, catching up with folks and sharing my initial hypotheses – could I be a fraction Chief Design Officer? Could I be a Jill-of-all-trades or a freelance Chief of Staff? Could I combine my Coaching Certificate with my appreciation and skills at change management? Do I hang a shingle and start a Design Firm? I made variations of small-batch business cards and went to a wide variety of events, interviewing and collecting feedback as I went. Same on social with leaning into being on camera on Instagram, and being much more consistently vocal on Linkedin.


learn diverse skills before you leap

In retrospect, there were a few key skills to “doing my own thing” that I did not have enough knowledge or relevant experience in out the gate. The biggest one is SALES. The second is WRITING for small businesses like my own. Let’s tackle Marketing – I quickly relearned that anything I put out into the world needed a ready-to-buy audience ready to trust me to solve their problem. The “right” problem, at the “right” time, with an accessible solution, to the “right” person. And aligning all of those things takes serious strategy AND execution.

For writing, I was rusty and had been focused on content systems at scale and leading teams. Super different from eye-catching and emotionally connecting copy about MYSELF. See lesson 1. Reading some books, learning new frameworks from podcasts and taking a few workshops have seriously helped. But this is all doable while having a “reliable” paycheck so could have been mitigated.

For sales, I knew I did NOT want to be a “sales bro” which was 99% of the ads being targeted at me. It took me a while to find the advice and approaches to consistently and thoughtfully going through the “get to know and trust you” phase of any relationship with a customer. This is the muscle that I’m still building, and would encourage per-learning on how to talk about yourself, and to prospect clients in ways that feel right for you, AND move towards that critical decision point of becoming a customer in your business.

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