Challenges of being a solo entrepreneur

Ohhh boy, to say there are challenges as an entrepreneur is the biggest understatement. Add in a part time job, not being in front of a computer in about a decade and having no degree in business, what was I thinking taking all of this on. Funny thing is, I was definitely overwhelmed at the thought of starting a business, but it did not stop me.

How can I do this? Not only that, but how can I do this alone??? No spouses 401K to cash in, no money from family or friends, no winning the lottery or secret bank accounts. Just me, myself, and I and a huge passion for dessert. Once I started, each step got a little bit easier and each challenge taught me something new. So here are some of the challenges I faced in the beginning and a lot of challenges I still face daily.

Challenge #1- Running a business solo means there is no shut off.

I have no one to share my daily tasks with, no one to step in and drop something off, pick something up, help me in the kitchen, do my marketing, pay my bills, figure out all the computer systems or help me financially if I make a big mistake or get scammed (which has definitely happened more than a few times) if I don’t do it, it doesn't happen, literally. Also, not being able to “hand off” some of the responsibility means my brain is constantly in motion what I have to do next and how and when I am going to do it. Fun Fact: being organized is not my thing. ADD?? YES, I sure am! As much as I love my yoga practice, it has been seriously lacking lately and I am anxious to get back to it soon!! very soon!! It makes me stop, listen and reconnect with some quiet time, if only for a small amount of time.

Challenge #2- Money- living paycheck to paycheck is its own challenge.

I chose to do this and I own the challenges I face with limited income, but I refuse to let it define my life. My lack of $ has definitely made me think more and react less when asked or approached about going to events, joining business groups. I still work part time to ensure that I have a place to live and 2 1/2 years after leaving my full time job, l have lived off a part time income.

I have received no loans, no grants, no funding, no donations and I have donated to other businesses way beyond my means. Again, my choice to donate but I am definitely learning to be more selective in which places I donate to. It is easily forgotten how much goes on before and after events to prepare donations with limited time and money.

My bank account may be small but I have not had to call anyone to live on their couch yet, that’s success in my book.

Challenge #3- Connecting with the Community and Sharing my Passion with the people

I have no marketing background, no knowledge in computer spread sheets or apps. Why not? Because when you work in a kitchen for over a decade, you need a recipe, your baking tools, equipment and your ingredients and that is pretty much it. The only time I used a computer was to print or input recipes or google.

I have had to find a way to connect with people. I don’t have a physical bakery that you can walk in and buy cookies, everything is pre-ordered so it is made from scratch every time. Call me crazy, but it is not appealing to know how many food places reuse the same product for days on end, and how little of it is actually from scratch. My food is always fresh and from scratch as ordered.

How do you get people to find you? Trial and error. Sooo much trial and error, networking my BUTT off, finding the right audience and finding the right people to root for me. Fresh Cookies in your purse doesn’t hurt by the way:)

My business started to take off when I was on the news in February 2018. I got on the news from networking and connecting. My baking classes had just started and many of my students have found me through the new or social media. I knew that once people saw my passion it would change my business for the better. That news segment definitely showed me in my element and I felt very comfortable. It also proved to me that my passion is clearly coming through to people. Connection with people was something I lacked for years in the restaurant industry.

I am forever grateful for all the challenges that I have and am definitely not stopping. I hope that if you are reading this that you know that you can do this too. All you need is passion, drive and to be unstoppable. It is not easy by any means. I have days that are frustrating, confusing, overwhelming, and at the end of the day, I will take those days to be following and living my dream of being a badass baker in Cleveland.

xoxo

Annie

Ann LoParo1 Comment