There’s no such thing. Business doesn’t happen in a bubble.
It is not the path to a sustainable business.
Hustle plays a part–I’ll get to that–but if your success is built squarely on the shoulders of your own hard work, you haven’t created a business, you’ve created a prison.
Solo Entrepreneurship is a Myth
Solo entrepreneurship isn’t a myth because people are lying to you. It’s a myth because it’s not the whole truth. It’s out of context.
The context is that, in the Social Era, work doesn’t look like it used to. Value doesn’t even look like it used to. Instead work and value creation happen in and through the network. Co-creation is standard, relationship is capital, innovation is vocation.
Work and value creation happen in and through the network. Co-creation is standard, relationship is capital, innovation is vocation.
Working ‘solo’ is possible only because we’re working together. And because we have new ways of working together. When you concentrate on the “me-ness” of your work, you forget the “us-ness” of how we got here.
When you’re fixated on the ‘solopreneurship’ shiny object, instead of asking for help, delegating to the crowd, or just flat-out hiring the right people, you berate yourself and try to work harder.
Those that appear to be doing it on their own, those who appear to shine the light on themselves, are actually running organizations. Those organizations are loose, fluid, and largely motivated by social purpose, but they are organizations nonetheless. It’s worth bearing in mind.
These people also see their microbusinesses as lean and mean, not small. They might not even identify with the term because the vision they have for their impact is downright big. They see ‘micro’ as a way to do more, not get by with less.
Efficiency is the name of the game, not sweat equity.
Finally, these entrepreneurs don’t equate themselves with their businesses. They are building something that will outlast them, reach people that they couldn’t reach on their own, and something that–gasp–has value outside the individual work that they do or the products they create. It’s a tricky thing this shift from seeing personality and individual strengths as an asset and not the product in and of itself. But it’s an important shift.
So while ‘solopreneurship’ isn’t the only realm where hustle is the name of the game, it’s hard not to run a business where you are the sole idea generator, sole investor, and sole executive without an overwhelming amount of hustle. And that’s just not sustainable. It’s time to see your business and its team for its full breadth and depth.
How to Transcend the Solopreneurship Myth
It isn’t that Founder’s Mojo, as Charlie Gilkey calls it, isn’t sustainable. It’s that your business will grow–and probably already has–beyond its ability to sustain itself solely on your mojo.
So how can you transcend this and allow your business to grow?
Put your effort and attention where your unique skills, talents, strengths, and passions are. The beauty is that, when you put your effort and attention into the things that make you feel alive, masterful, and purpose-driven, it ceases to feel like much effort at all. You can move quickly from burnout to flow.
What systems do you need to make this happen?
Here are my basics:
- A social business model that is built to the strengths of both you and your customers and leverages the way you naturally relate to each other to facilitate co-creation
- A clear perspective on the world through your customers’ eyes that inspires your messaging, marketing, and product development
- A system for delegation to key contractors or employees and a rallying cry to motivate them
- A communication strategy that keeps your customers and prospects in the loop and moving toward your shared vision
These systems largely organize themselves around a message that, as Nilofer Merchant puts it, frees ‘work’ from jobs. If you can distribute the work required to reach your goal to as broad of a base as possible, there’s less of you required to reach your goal.
“When a clear purpose is coupled with shared power, people can self-organize to reach a goal. In essence, Social Era organizations will finally act flat (and quite often this leads to speed) because they will actually be flat. The artifice of who is in or out of the organization will be less important than what work needs to get done by what talent and with what motivation.”
– Nilofer Merchant, 11 Rules for Creating Value in the Social Era
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