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7 Lessons I Learned As A Self Funded Solopreneur in 2017

What does it really take to work for yourself?

January 2018 marked the 7 year anniversary of Jaclyn Mullen Media going LIVE. 👏 👏 👏

If you’re a fellow solopreneur, freelancer and entrepreneur who has made it past the one year mark or beyond, KUDOS!!! And if you’re about to leave your job to explore the work and passions that light your heart on fire 🔥, keep reading.

When people tell you being your own boss takes blood, sweat and tears, they aren’t kidding. The freedom to start, stop and work from any location has it’s perks. But you need to be able to mentally weather the storms of unanticipated expenses and life events.

  • You have to motivate and coach yourself to celebrate your accomplishments but also identify your weaknesses and raise the bar higher.
  • You need to be able to train and mentor someone else, whose approach and learning style may be the opposite of yours, to do what you do.
  • And you need to examine not just your strengths but what you suck at.

In anticipation of what self-employment would be like, I read books, attended a lot of workshops and asked a lot of questions to try and start myself off with a minimal amount of setbacks and limitations. New or aspiring entrepreneurs: I have to be honest with you. No matter how much planning, research, and reading you have under your belt, you will always be a work in progress. I have many hours of TEACHING workshops and reading books and daily practice behind me and each day is still a discovery day. You might even find that it’s not the outside world or factors that limit you—you may have QUITE a way of limiting yourself with self-criticism and self-doubt.

7 years ago, I also didn’t realize the many facets that come into play as a solopreneurs and entrepreneurs.

Just as an exercise, on a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your current resilience and ability to maintain a level head during high pressure situations on a personal level?

How would you rate yourself as a creative and/or expert in your field?

How would you rate yourself as the MANAGER of a business with many moving pieces including marketing, growth, bookkeeping and customer servicing ? You have to master each of these areas.

In the week’s to come, I’ll share a more in depth post on what I’ve done each year leading up to year 7 to stay self-employed with no business debts by bootstrapping and self-funding this endeavor. You’ll get a real honest insight into the hustle, the many ever changing revenue streams, the repositioning I’ve undergone and the lessons that came out of nowhere. Over the past 7 years, I have had a team member or two help me work on projects and service clients but for the most part, I’ve been flying solo as a solopreneur hence the title of this blog post.

For now, I’m looking back on the lessons I can share with you from the past twelve months. After a rocky 2016 due to my best friend Darcie’s passing, 2017 was one of those years where things started to click again and come together unlike they had ever before.

  • There was great success personally as I entered into a relationship and really recommitted to my health.
  • There was great success professionally–I taught 5, ten-week instances of Digital Marketing at General Assembly, fulfilled my term as President of the LA Leadership team of Ellevate Network and finally hit PUBLISH on this blog!

Progress, when we recognize it, FEELS good but sometimes progress is overlooked because we don’t make time to see it.

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And without further ado, here are the:

7 Lessons I learned in 2017

  1. Embrace the in between. Have you ever found you do things one of two ways? You go all in EXTREME. You give 150% of yourself for a few months only to then swing to the opposite side of the pendulum and burn out. With depletion, you have nothing left to give so you do exactly the opposite. You DABBLE or coast by. You drink more caffeine. This was me for MANY years. But then I found inspiration in the most unlikely of places: studying fat burning exercises and learning my fat burning heart rate. The FBHR doesn’t leave you weak, shaking and depleted out of breath. In fact, it’s quite manageable and MUCH more effective in helping your body maintain weight loss. So the next time you want to OVER commit, exhaust yourself into exertion or skip on sleep for the sake of success, ask yourself, are my actions EXTREME? Will this lead to my demise? How can I be ok with giving something attention and not having it drain me in the process?
  2. You will set some goals that don’t get accomplished. And that’s ok. You are not your accomplishments. You ARE your attitude and your experiences : ) I declared that 2017 would be the year of my podcast and my blog series Diary of A Digital Marketer. What I hadn’t anticipated is how busy I’d be between teaching, providing some digital marketing consulting services, enjoying my relationship and traveling. So the podcast got shelved. The diary got off to a slow start. My old self would’ve had a hay day. “Why didn’t you achieve those goals? You told people you’d do them? What will they think now that you didn’t?” My more enlightened self said, “So what. You had a rough 2016 and the podcast will come to fruition eventually. Are you happy? Yes. Are you healthy? Yes. Are you being lazy? No. End of story. Put them on the list for next year and enjoy the present moment.” You are not your accomplishments. You ARE your attitude and your experiences : )
  3. Make REST a part of your hustle. In other words, get the hell OFFLINE. Take a nap. Take time off. Don’t deprive yourself of sleep. (Do you know what repetitive lack of sleep can do to your precious healthy body?)No matter near or far, get off the computer and see new surroundings.  REST is a part of SUCCESS. You need to recharge, refuel, and renew your creativity.
  4. Watch more movies : ) Usually you hear READ MORE BOOKS. But I tell you what, between “Meghan Levy” last year, “Only The Brave”, “The Big Sick” and more, I continued to explore storytelling, empathy, and unlock inspiration. Plus watching movies is a form of resting ; )
  5. Don’t make a RUSH, RASH decision. Give yourself at least 48 hours to think things through. I recently heard, “You have emotions and you have behavior.” When we’re mad, sad, feeling overwhelmed or under appreciated, it’s quite easy to allow our emotions to rule our behavior. We may say words we want to take back or poke holes in a perfectly normal opportunity. Just give yourself a solid 48 hours before you make a bold decision or take a bold action. And communicate that you will be taking that time if you’re pressed to answer or address the scenario sooner.
  6. Everyone struggles with imposter syndrome or a fear of being disliked online. Try to get over this and put yourself out there online as an expert and thought leader anyhow. Express yourself creatively. Don’t mute yourself to fit a mold. Hit publish more often even if you think you’re writing needs refinement or your Instagram posts aren’t perfectly filtered. Establish a consistent schedule of posting to the social network with your most visibility potential. It might not be Facebook! All in all, you won’t be able to make everyone happy online and you don’t have to. Putting yourself out there is about leveraging the internet so you can accomplish YOUR goals! No better time to start than now.
  7. Have no shame in a budgeters game. Hear me out. I love to travel and experience new cities. I love to dine out, get my nails done. But as a self-employed entrepreneur, I want to keep my money and profit margin as healthy as possible. In fact, one of the things many self-employed people don’t learn ahead of time is qualifying for a mortgage. You can’t show years of write offs with minimal profit and get a loan from the bank. In 2017, I traveled by bus, by train, using points, and I dined in a lot. None of those things compromised the experience. While we often want to focus on ACHIEVING MORE, one of our greatest accomplishments will be strengthening our financial knowledge too. The sooner you learn to love budgets, numbers, spreadsheets, the sooner you can achieve home ownership, hire team members to help you or invest in yourself in other ways. Check and track your credit score with Credit Karma. See where you fall into the fold of healthy profit margins for your industry.

Which of these had you shaking your head in agreement? What was your top lesson from 2017? Let me know with a comment below.