Being Stuck Sucks! Three Invisible Roadblocks for Solopreneurs

A few days ago, I asked the Teaching HQ Bulletin gang to tell me one thing:

Did you set yourself a goal in January?

If you have your vision for the lifestyle business of your dreams, the next step is to set some goals and think about the path to getting there. You know how warm and motivating it feels to have a clear direction. Here are the goals some of you shared with me:

  • you finally want to publish your first book
  • you want to see your writing published on a high-traffic website
  • you want to quit your job and start being an independent online teacher full-time
  • you want to build an online course that can deliver for thousands

Are you sick of reading and want to see the whole post as a video? Sure thing!

So now we're on April 1 (no joke), where are you at?

Goals are tricky. They're essential to have around, but you'll never quite know what will happen when you go for it. So now the first quarter is over, it's time to come up for air from busy bee mode and ask yourself the question: "How far have I come in the first 3 months

Let me just take a guess here: You may not be as far along the road to success as you envisaged. Many of you tell me that you feel worried. Almost every solopreneur falls behind, gets discouraged and strays from the goals they set themselves. 

So what gives? Why are you stuck?

One thing that I have learnt in my years of solo business building is that knowing the roadblocks is the first step to getting over them. With that in mind, let me go ahead and document three major roadblocks that you might be facing right now.

They are particularly tricky because you may not be able to see them easily. When you have a cough or your internet is down, the roadblock is right in front of you. But when you suffer from one of these three, it takes concentration to realize what's happening.

So take a minute and read on. That time putting this awareness on your own progress will pay off richly.

The Roadblocks Solopreneurs In Our Industry Run Into

  • Being Brand Un-Savvy

You can be a brilliant tutor with real dedication to your students and a knack for writing materials, but if you haven't found a way to communicate that genius it's easy to be taken for a commodity. Brand is at the heart of how you communicate, so that clarity can make a difference between your success and failure.

For example, it can be easy to get stuck in a trap of specialising in one specific country. Why is this a big risk? Because putting all your bets on one specific country can cause problems in the global economy. For example, I've heard from several online teachers that  "My market is in Brazil and the Brazilian Real has dropped and now no one can afford my $ prices!" If this is you and you thought you had your "I teach Brazilians" niche nailed down, it's time to start revisiting what a true niche is about.

For a solid brand foundation, work with the Savvy Brand Toolkit. This digital toolkit is a course to help you find the perfect students, have fun and get better pay. It is at the heart of all the work I do with you guys, because your brand is the way to truly stand out in a busy marketplace.

It's specifically written and designed for online teachers, and now available in three tiers to fit in with any budget.

  • Perfectionism

If I had a pound for every single time a client tells me "I can't go out and share my website until I have a free download/email list/magic gerbil", I swear I'd be sorted for the rest of the year. Perfectionism is a creeping risk in any undertaking (I wrote about it in language learning too), but for you as a solopreneur it's the toughest challenge. When there is only you and the world, it's incredibly hard to imagine others could see your work for something that you cannot see. But actually, once you get that customer focus straight you will be producing work that is exactly what others need, even when there's a typo on page two.

Believe me, nothing is a better perfectionism cure than becoming vulnerable. Exhibit 1: This post has a video, even though I haven't been able to find time to make one. I cannot provide you with a perfect video right now, but if I put that on the "when I'm ready" list, I might never make you one at all!

  • Bad Project Management

Back when project management in a large organization was my office job, I learnt something two important facts about myself. 

First, I love it when something gets done. I get a glowing, successful feeling when a task is completed and love seeing progress on a roadmap. Second, I am crazy optimistic. If there is an additional task or purpose that seems like a great idea in the moment, I tend to go ahead and add it on there.

Have you ever heard of scope creep? Wikipedia explains it like this:

uncontrolled changes or continuous growth in a project's scope. This can occur when the scope of a project is not properly defined, documented, or controlled. It is generally considered harmful.

Scope creep is real and it's extremely dangerous to solopreneurs, because there isn't anyone around to stop us. Even if your added idea for an advertising campaign all about dating sounds great right now, there will still be just you to execute it (outsourcing doesn't work that way unless you invest a lot).

So with that in mind, the key is not just in setting smart goals but also in training yourself to making sure you stay committed once their novelty wears off. 

That's The Three Major Blocks - What Now?

Let me re-cap the three roadblocks I often see for solopreneurs like us when we are working towards our big, audacious goals:

  1. Being Brand Un-Savvy
  2. Perfectionism
  3. Bad Project Management

It's easy to get lost along the way, and the bad news is that this list of three is only the tip of the iceberg. But fortunately, you don't have to get around each block on your own. 

There are many ways of getting over the roadblocks, from setting milestones to hiring a mentor for accountability. Many teachers commit by joining Mastermind groups, and I know that my own group has done absolute wonders for me.

Which of the three is the trickiest roadblock for you?

How have you started taking action? Let me know in the comments below, I'd love to hear more about what's getting you stuck right now and how you're beating it!