Working Solo: Traits of a Successful Soloist

Not everyone is cut out to be a free agent. After more than two decades on my own, I’ve nailed down seven traits that I’ve found at the core of most top-notch independents. See how they track with your own expectations and abilities.

1. Self-starter
Successful solo entrepreneurs don’t hit the snooze alarm on life. They know what they want, they plan how to get it, and they consistently work toward specific goals. Do we stumble and procrastinate from time to time? Absolutely. But overall, we’re our own self-generating engines.

2. Eternally curious
The best free agents are life-long learners. They understand that each day presents the opportunity to discover something new, and to apply it to lessons already learned. You likely won’t hear them saying, “Oh, that’s boring.” or “I really don’t care to know more.”

Traits of a Successful Soloist

3. A healthy ego
It’s tough to be an independent all the time, and your ego has to be able to withstand the shocks of solitude and rejection. Often it’s a fuzzy line between what you do and who you are. When someone says they don’t want a soloist’s product or service, newcomers can be crushed. Experienced entrepreneurs learn not to take it so personally.

4. Financially aware
Even if math and finance were not your strong suit in school, to succeed on your own, you must develop a basic level of financial acumen. Learn to make a P&L report and a Balance Sheet your friend. Swallow your pride and ask for help in navigating the financial waters.

5. Optimistic
Long-term soloists see the bright side of most situations, even when the skies seem pretty gloomy. They don’t operate on false hopes, but they keep in mind that they control their destiny. They appreciate that attitude plays a crucial role in their success.

6. Outgoing
While it’s not mandatory that free agents be gregarious, the ones who have an outgoing nature fare the best. Networking is a central ingredient to solo survival – both for getting new customers and for seeking out important business information. If you’re terminally shy, you’ll need to team up with someone who can be your company’s “outside face.”

7. Maintain a dual vision
Experienced free agents understand that sustaining a solo business depends on keeping focused not only on what is immediately at hand but also what’s coming in the months and years ahead. The seeds planted now – with customers, financial matters, business planning – will bring a rich harvest if they are tended at every part of the growth cycle.

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