When you working a full-time job or when you are working for a boss, your time is managed by that boss. But when you are a Solopreneur or an Entrepreneur, you are that boss. But like they say, with great power comes great responsibility. I learnt my lessons on being my own boss from none other than my wife, who for a long time, was a homemaker.
From my wife?
She has a really good track record.
- Never was there a day when we didn’t have food on the table.
- Our son never went to school with unfinished homework.
- And now, she manages to set aside time every day at least to learn something new on makeup and hair.
- She attends to her clients and is always on time (mostly before time!) for her appointments.
The list just goes on.
No, I’m not bragging about my wife here. I’m very sure this is the same story in every household. If you have a homemaker partner, I’m sure you have similar things to say too.
The point is, there are very valuable lessons we, as Entrepreneurs and Solopreneurs, can learn from a Homemaker. The rest of this article is about just that.
7 Solopreneur Lessons
There are a lot of things I’ve learnt from my wife that’s made me a better man. But here I want to share 7 lessons I learnt from her that has made me a better Solopreneur (or Entrepreneur).
These are the 7 quintessential lessons:
- Don’t give excuses.
- Identify and Deal with non-negotiables.
- Action eats quality for breakfast, lunch and dinner!
- You can always find time to do what you want.
- Relationships outweigh talent.
- Food bonds relationships – serve it.
- Empathy is priceless.
Some of these are pretty self-explanatory, but there is more to it than what meets the eye. Let’s look at each one of these 7 lessons in a little more detail.
1. Don’t Give Excuses
Like I described early on in this article, there was a never a day when she had it all easy. Every single day, she woke up in the morning, made coffee and breakfast, got our son ready for school, etc. She did not give excuses.
Yes, I do lend her a helping hand, but she often doesn’t ask for it. She did all of this even when I was traveling. Never once did she not send a snack box for our son, or not prepared breakfast or a meal, or anything.
Just deal with it.
As entrepreneurs and solopreneurs, we have to deal with a lot of things. And often times, it is about dealing with ourselves. We feel low or demotivated at times, but still that cannot be an excuse for not doing our work.
We don’t have a boss to ask us when to do what. We do because we need to do. Period.
We just cannot afford to give any excuses.
I remember the words of a guest whom I interviewed on the podcast. He is a dentist who does weekend jobs as a makeup artist. He said,
“There was this one time when an aunt died and I had to attend to a makeup appointment on the day of her funeral. I could not turn down the appointment because the bride had booked me in advance. I had made a commitment and I fulfilled it, even though I had tears in my eyes all along.”
2. Identify and Deal With Non-Negotiables
Kids have to go to school, we all need food 3 times a day, the house needs to be clean,….the list just goes on. None of these can be negotiated when you are in-charge of your home and family.
Homemakers are responsible for making their home a Home.
And like it or not, homemakers have all of these non-negotiables laid down in front of them. They just need to accommodate them, work with them, rather than fight them.
But non-negotiables don’t always present themselves in a suit and tie.
Entrepreneurs and Solopreneurs have a situation very similar to Homemakers. One thing I fumbled for a long time when I started out as a Solopreneur is not being able to identify these non-negotiables.
Let me explain that.
If my wife doesn’t prepare food, my son and I would start clamoring for food. If our son did not wake up and get ready in the morning, he would miss school. There are two important things going on here:
- The non-negotiables are clear – food needs to be prepared, son needs to get ready on time
- If any of the non-negotiables don’t happen on-time, there would be a alarm – people would complain, school would send us a notice if our son missed school.
But when I started off as an entrepreneur, I took time to identify these non-negotiables. But when I identified these non-negotiables, I still didn’t have anyone to let me know when I breached them – there were no alarms!
And that’s the hard part.
By the time I realized I breached some non-negotiables, I had lost time. As a Solopreneur, every important to-do is a non-negotiable. Write a blog post, record a video, write a sponsor quote, etc. Each one is a non-negotiable.
My blog would not complain if I did not write a post!
And neither would my YouTube care to let me know “Hey Karthik, your job is on fire if you don’t post a video now!” They were non-negotiables, but you’d know the effect of not tending to them only after some time, when you see traffic dropping or revenue falling.
So the lesson is to always identify the non-negotiables and put a system in place to hear them complain if you breach.
3. Action Eats Quality for Breakfast!
Done, is better than “not done”. Any food is better than “no food”. My son going to school with a quick bath is better than him not going after an enjoyable shower with his toys.
That’s how my wife thinks, and most good homemakers do. They prefer some action over “quality of action”.
Keep the ball rolling.
The energy to move a stationary ball is far greater than the energy it takes to keep a rolling ball in motion. Same is the case with entrepreneurs and solopreneurs.
Creating a 500 word blog post is better than waiting to create the perfect 2000 word blog post.
Responding to interested sponsors with a quick “yes or no” from your smartphone is better than waiting to respond with a nicely written email from your desktop.
Focus on taking action, as opposed to thinking how good the action could’ve been.
4. You Can Always Find Time to Do What You Want
While I always wondered how she managed to do all of the “homemaker” work, my wife surprised me when she signed-up for a course to become a makeup artist.
She went for classes every day, and now she manages to squeeze client appointments, travel and so much more, in addition to preparing food, sending our son to school, etc.
How on earth is she doing this?
I always was amazed by the way she manages all of this. Is she a superwoman?
Until I learnt her secrets.
There are two things that she did:
- Combining tasks and automating them.
- Taking quick decisions.
She now prepared all three meals in the morning, instead of spending time in the kitchen two or three times a day.
I always considered myself to be good at making decisions. But I learnt about the importance of making quick decisions from my wife.
She is actually very good at making decisions that keep the wheels rolling. A not-so-good decision to keep things moving is quickly followed up with a good decision that makes up for the earlier one.
I understand, we are busy.
But I took a page from my wife’s book too. I’ve got comfortable making quick, not-so-good decisions and follow them up with better decisions.
I knew the website messaging was not complete, but I went on to launch it nevertheless. I knew my podcast interview angle and questions could be better, but I started interviewing nevertheless.
5. Relationships Outweigh Talent
If there is one metric that measures a homemaker, it’s the quality of your home. And one of the key aspects of a good home is the relationship the family has.
“I’m not as good as you with drawing or sketching”.
That’s what my wife always tells me. She has no experience of running a business in the past either.
Yet, she spends time with our son sketching animals and cartoons for him to color, or critiquing / offering her perspectives on something I ask her about my business.
The fact is that neither my son or I are looking for a perfect answer. The fact that she takes time and helps us, goes a long way in building a strong relationship.
Relationships outweigh your business skills, Mr. Solopreneur.
Doing a business alone as a solopreneur is a pretty daunting task. There is so much to do, that I had unknowingly stopped socializing.
I’m an introvert, and that made things worse.
But the moment I realized this and started to reach out to people, things changed. I reached out to people I didn’t know, and the relationships started to bear fruits.
6. Food Bonds Relationships – Serve It
This perhaps sounds like a no brainer. I am a foodie, and this perhaps is the easiest thing for me to have understood. Yet, it took time.
No matter what the day looked like, my wife always made it a point to both cook and serve good food, and that we sat together as a family to have our meals.
You are running a business of one.
And, it sometimes doesn’t cross your mind to break bread with someone. You don’t have “colleagues” who work with you, but your team is now a bunch of other solopreneurs and service providers.
Taking time to invite them over a dinner or beer (or coffee) is a great way to build relationships that last.
7. Empathy Is Priceless
If building good relationships is key to running a successful business or being a solopreneur, understanding people is a priceless.
For a long time, my wife didn’t fully understand my business. But still she always tried to understand my feelings. When I’m happy, she makes it a point to understand why I’m happy, and so was it when I was hit with a challenge.
Being able to understand our customers or vendors or just anyone we work with, is so important for us to be successful as solopreneurs.
I hope these 7 lessons resonated with you. If you are a Solopreneur are married, I’m sure you’ve learnt similar lessons from your wife too. Personally I think family-first and this article was my way of reflecting back into how my family has made me a better solopreneur and a better human. If you find this article helpful, please do leave a comment.
Now it’s time to get back to work! Get grinding!
I appreciate you and your lovely family, Mr. Solopreneur!