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Steal These Battle-Tested Tips for Succeeding as a Solopreneur

  • By Adela Belin
  • November 25, 2020

The household names of entrepreneurship aren’t notable by chance. Their forward-thinking approach to business has secured their place in their industry but these unique practices are eagerly adopted by the top entrepreneurs of tomorrow.
As a freelancer, solo-entrepreneur, or even someone who’s looking to build on their passion, it’s important to adopt these tactics in your own endeavors. Today’s admired entrepreneurs are innovative in their approach to productivity, how they iterate with feedback, and which efforts they prioritize as a business. Here are three key lessons from today’s top tech and corporate leaders that you can implement immediately.

”Protect your attention.”

Jason Fried, CEO of Basecamp, has led one of the most prominent bootstrapped companies that exist today. After 17 years, Fried has had a series of unique practices that have molded the culture of Basecamp. Of these lessons, there is one that every solo-entrepreneur and dedicated freelancer should adopt—today—and it’s about managing your attention.
Bootstrapped companies, especially those who are B2B like Basecamp, are pressed to sustain profitability from their inception. What separates the successes, like Basecamp, from the failures, of which there are too many to name? It’s their focus on efficiency.
At Basecamp, Fried promotes a culture of efficiency in a few ways. He’s said he goes “fullscreen” on nearly every app (multitasking is a no-no), and he also hides his dock on his Macbook. His general rule: embrace the power of no.
As Fried recently told Lifehacker: “I can’t stress this enough—protect your attention like you protect your friends, family, money, etc. It’s among the most valuable things you have.”
He elaborated by saying he was once an employee that couldn’t work without a multiple monitor setup. Today, he reports a drastic change (for the better!) in his work/life balance, thanks to downsizing to a single computer to which he devotes 100 percent of his attention. An advocate of the 40-hour work week, he has been stringent on where his attention goes in the workday, which helps him prioritize projects within his workload and work schedule.

Embrace the haters.

Contrary to popular belief, the most successful entrepreneurs are open to criticism and feedback, utilizing contrarian ideas to fuel progress and help innovate their businesses. The poster child for having thick skin? Elon Musk, who says collecting feedback is one of the driving forces behind his personal and business success.
Knowing how to take criticism is vital for the SpaceX & Tesla founder. He’s a strong believer in using employee and customer complaints or found faults to make the organization stronger. Even though all feedback isn’t actionable, gathering this information from other points of view can help you make better business decisions, whether that means implementing a new product or developing new internal processes.

Just recently Musk was able to put this practice to the test. Amid all of the Tesla praise seen often on social networks, Musk responded to a complaint that would soon have its solution just six days later. When a Tesla owner lamented about fellow consumers occupying charging spots for long periods of time at a local charging station, Musk took the feedback seriously.

In quick response, Musk fired off a personal response via Twitter: “You’re right, this is becoming an issue. Supercharger spots are meant for charging, not parking. Will take action.”
Less than a week after the customer’s initial tweet was sent, Tesla announced a new policy to introduce a fleet-wide idle fee to increase Supercharger availability. This product has likely been on the roadmap for Tesla beforehand but to fully implement this program within a week’s time is the epitome of leveraging feedback for a better customer experience.

As a self-employed worker, do you have a structured feedback loop? If so, are you using the social media atmosphere to add to your customer insight? Molding your product around the consistent concerns from your user base is important but implementing a method for iterating upon feedback is even more imperative.

Focus on the prototype.

Guy Kawasaki, former Chief Evangelist of Apple and now for Canva, has advised dozens of today’s leading startups and organizations from concept to smashing success. Above all Kawasaki is a proven marketing executive that has been outward with one of his principles for success: focus on the prototype.
Apply Kawasaki’s proven formula for startup success to your own endeavors. Whether it’s building a pipeline of freelance clientele or establishing your go-to-market strategy as an early stage venture, make building a stable prototype a priority.
Kawasaki’s advice, in Cliff’s Notes form: Focus only on the activities that drive positive results for your business. “If you get a prototype out and you get enough people using it, you never have to write a business plan,” says Kawasaki in Inc. “A prototype is where you separate the BS from the reality.”

Today’s top founders have given us many insights that we can apply to our own projects. Regardless of the stage your startup is in, use these three lessons to continually better your product and processes as a solopreneur.

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