Entrepreneurship is the new black. The Internet has made the world so small and the opportunities so endless, it seems anyone can do it.
I believe many who want to can, but the new business failure rate is still daunting. Once you're flying solo, wind in your hair and still on a high from leaving your 9-to-5's parking lot for the last time, you're just that: solo.
You're out in the wilderness of the market, alone and free, making your own rules.
If you've been on your own six months to a year, you've probably set up (or fallen into) some routines and processes. Are those routines setting you up for success or failure?
Here are a few warning signs that you need to change your course before heading right back into another cubicle:
1. You always do the tasks you love the most first.
Let me tell you a lesser-known fact: Once you start working for yourself, there is still a lot of grunt work no one wants to do. The difference is, there's no boss to tell you to do it. There's just the looming chance you won't be able to keep your electricity on through winter.
When you start doing work you love full time, it is so easy to fall into this trap and push the tasks you don't enjoy on the later list. We all know — because various studies have told us — that we should tackle the large, hard stuff first.
But sometimes, our passion for a project pushes logic aside.
2. You stay stuck in a last-minute cycle.
Here's a prime example: We solo entrepreneurs, small business owners and freelancers are an awesome lot. I'm sure you take great care of your clients, create sweet products and stay in close contact with your customers.
But, you know the feast and famine cycle is real. Yet during busy times, you forget, seemingly every time.
So while you focus on clients, you completely forget about marketing and promoting our own business. Suddenly, your contracts are up, and you need new work ASAP.
Your site is six months outdated, you've forgotten your LinkedIn password and your mom keeps asking, "How's business going?" You just might lose it.
This pushes you to launch 25 new blog posts, videos and case studies in the span of a week, as you frantically hunt for new business. Rinse and repeat every six months.
This cycle is not sustainable. You have to force yourself to work ahead, or you'll always be behind.
You especially need to have a marketing plan in place to keep growing your business all year long, even when business is booming.
3. You don't do tasks in batches.
In the past year, I've been able to interview some entrepreneurial rockstars. They have a lot of traits and tactics in common. One of them is batching.
John Lee Dumas, host of "Entrepreneur On Fire" (which brings in over $250,000 a month), records eight straight hours of podcast interviews every Tuesday. Fawn Weaver, founder of Happy Wives Club and a New York Times bestselling author, takes a week off to hole up in a hotel and write an entire manuscript. Michael Hyatt, a New York Times bestselling author and the founder of Platform University, takes two days to record an entire season of video and audio episodes for his podcast, "This is Your Life."
When you know it's time to get in the zone and execute, you brain will thank you because it won't have to switch from task to task. Take the hard, intense, important work and concentrate on it in blocks.
Also, take tasks that can be consolidated from a daily interruption into a larger, weekly one.
4. You focus on movement instead of momentum.
I've found that we entrepreneurial types can be very stubborn.
I must get my tweets scheduled. People will weep without my awesome posts on Facebook twice a day. I must respond to this comment ASAP.
Posting, responding and even writing can feel like momentum. But sometimes, they're all just movement.
Successful solo entrepreneurs look at the ROI of their tasks and plan accordingly. I may lose a bit of Facebook algorithm juice by failing to post on my business page today, but the ROI of writing this post is much higher.
I know what you're thinking: But if I concentrate on the large tasks, what will happen to all the small stuff? Well, read on.
5. You never outsource.
When I sat with millionaire fitness empress, Chalene Johnson, earlier this year, she swore that outsourcing was the number one key to success for both herself and her Smart Success Academy students. Still, I was skeptical.
Could it really be as great as people say? Will I find the right person?
What can I hand off to someone else? Will the quality remain?
First, yes. It is as amazing as it seems.
Second, get honest with yourself. Are you hesitating because you're a control freak, or because you aren't organized enough to bring in another person?
It's probably a little bit of both, as it was for me. So, I say this with love: Get over it.
Just like large businesses have to staff up for growth, you need to staff up to prepare for growing your workload.
The world needs you at your best, putting out your best work. This won't be the case if you're still making these five mistakes.
Fix these habits so you can continue on this wild entrepreneurship adventure.