I am an accidental entrepreneur. I call it an accident because I truly had no plan to start a business until I did. In fact, I had been known to say things like, “if everyone owns their own business, who is going to work at the wholesale club when I want to buy in bulk?” However, after 17 months working (in-person) in higher education during a pandemic, I hired an executive coach. My goal was to be more satisfied at work, but during our first conversation, she asked me to define my purpose. That was probably the beginning of the end of my former career because I couldn’t remember. I had been a successful administrator for 16 years, and when asked why I was going to work every day – I could think of many reasons I didn’t want to be there, but not one reason (initially) why I did. Four weeks later, I called her and told her I was going to need a different type of coaching.
Outlined below are examples of the non-traditional learning tools that helped me start and manage my consulting business focused on Diversity/Equity/Inclusion (DEI) trainings, executive coaching and wholistic leadership as a “solo-preneur.”
The first asset I had was the amazing leadership/life coach who asked me my purpose. Through intentional conversations and assessments, she was able to help me combine my intellect, expertise, motivation and skill to redefine my purpose. I was also gifted a second coach who had a number of resources available specific to entrepreneurship once I decided this was the route I wanted to take. Utilizing both coaches simultaneously really helped me to gain clarity at almost warp speed. Executive Coaches can be costly, so if these types of services are not in your budget at the moment, you can also utilize time with a therapist to talk through career transition, personal purpose and/or the struggles of business development. Most therapists are covered by health insurance or at dramatically lower rates than coaches. Different types of leadership assessments are also available at no cost. 16 Personalities is my favorite, but there are lots to choose from.
Roundtables/discussion groups are incredibly helpful. I attend a meeting twice a month and talk through the ups and downs of starting a business, marketing products, developing clientele and assessing/re-assessing the market. The ideas, lessons learned, helpful tips and honest feedback on everything from my website to my LinkedIn page have been invaluable.
Webinars and Web Tools
Next, I built my website. And when I say I built it, I mean built it. From start to finish – the text, the pages and the logo – all me. Mostly because I didn’t have the budget to pay someone or the patience to wait until they got around to it. The only reason this was possible is because there are a number of platforms that have created “point and click” website builders. I chose to use Wix after Executive Coach #2 gave me access to a free webinar that explained the features. Once I saw how advanced the options had become (and after receiving a 50% off coupon in my email), I was sold.
YouTube and Social Media
Various social media platforms offer free versions of “trainings” on any number of topics. For example, descriptive and helpful tips for content development, monetizing your content and weekly updates on the most sought after and highly searched topics can be found on platforms that are specifically designed for content distribution (i.e., YouTube and TikTok). Whether you are trying to learn how to use the video editing software that came on your laptop or identifying the best course of action for your business by listening to someone share their story of the ups and downs of establishing a similar business, everyday people can be a wealth of knowledge on the entrepreneurial journey.
The final tip I’ll offer relates to e-books. The ease of production and minimal capital required to create e-books has opened the door for many to share their knowledge without the bureaucracy of major publishing houses. As a result, lots of subject matter experts have begun to release information through this format. This tends to work in the consumer’s favor because the low cost of production usually translates into free or low-cost access to critical information that can be helpful in making a business dream become a reality.
The mostly free and low-cost tools including, but not limited to, those outlined above, could make a major difference in the time it might take to get from point a to point b as a solo-preneur. If you are currently developing your business and/or plan, utilizing a plethora of resources can help with everything from templates to step-by-step tutorials offered by those who have expertise based on both practical experience and theoretical research.
These and other tools truly helped me to pursue my purpose – which is to help individuals cultivate social, intellectual, financial and emotional fulfillment at a soul level. Freedom is a lifestyle. I can help you live it.