Advantages of Working Solo

Whilst I know there are tonnes of great advantages to working solo (rather than in a team or corporate environment) I decided to ask those people I chat with the most what they imagined would be the best reason to ‘go solo‘. So far I have had these interesting and varied responses:
Zombie Walk, Adelaide Oct 2009

Less Meetings (Kay Walker)

I guess there would be less, but the bigger importance is that the meetings are consequential, involve much delegation and are full of people willing to be there. If you are solo-business, yes, you might not have meetings … but you still would have time-out to white-board ideas and the future of projects. Or is that just me?

If you want to be serious about each project, you run little meetings. You layout all the paperwork (including the proposal, the ideas, the sk/etchings), you have a whiteboard or similar to set-up a timeline of events, and you have keep a log of all time-spent. If you are so inclined, you could try billing this to the client. Or not. I consider this part of the learning curve involved with running my business.

Total Creative and Fiscal Control (Amanda Marsh)

Amanda is so right! Being able to release your creative side and restrain your spending is imperative to the running of a good business!

Creative Control

What all artistic entrepreneurs thrive upon is being able to express the art. Nothing kills that spirit more than having a committee of three or more people who ALL want to add their two-cents worth. Going solo enables one to simply write, draw, paint, photograph, sculpt and release our creativity with free abandon.

On the flip side of this is knowing when to stop. Whilst we would love to perform our art all day and all night, there comes a time when a piece of art must be completed. This is when the advantage of a partner or team comes into play. A committee enables you to have someone to lean on, depend on (hopefully) and tell you when enough is enough. Even if you don’t want to listen!

Fiscal Control

Having access to the business finances without having to ask anyone is a great feeling. (Most married male artists will only know this if their wife knows not the local shoe or handbag store!) Seriously, solo-businesses have the biggest advantage when it comes to money. Nearly everything is tax-deductible if you have a registered business and/or registration number (ie ABN). All products directly related to the business can be written off.

Even better, and this is more so for soloists where clients are approached via the internet, the office can be furnished with low-budge furniture. Whilst the computer and gadgets should be of the highest standard, the desk and cabinets need not be so great if your clients never visit your office!

Zombie Walk, Adelaide Oct 2009

Creative Freedom (Elizabeth Able)

Elizabeth said:

“Control” is overrated – goes out the window as soon as you commit, no matter who is in charge. If self employed you get to choose the starting places, so be sure they’re interesting starting places, w/potentials you’ll enjoy following. One big bonus is if/when you see potentials, you can go further

Creative freedom and control are much the same, so I don’t need to expand on this.

Maintaining Forward Momentum (Becca L-Smith)

Becca said:

Maintaining momentum since you’re never forced to ‘wait’ on others or work around other peoples schedules

Ain’t this the truth? We all know the horror of having to rely on the members of a so-called team! Having to keep a timeline that relies on the actions of others can be the biggest killer of motivation, trust, closure and potential income. When people begin relying on others for completion of projects, a timeline can be blown into disarray.

Which is probably why many entrepreneurs, business-men and small-business’s begin as Soloists. Being able to keep moving forward all the time is fantastic.

Being able to stop to smell the roses and know nobody is relying on you is also just as fantastic. Many businesses with more than three people don’t have this luxury, particularly when everybody is an integral part of a cog. The cog needs to be constant, therefore taking time out is much more difficult and can cause problems in the journey of a business. Being a soloist means that the journey is at your pace, whether that be fast or slow. Yet a soloist takes big risks when ill or on holidays … nobody is there to take over or continue the activity.

Optimal Use of Time (Dawne Wilkins)

Dawn said:

You can maximise your use of optimal work times vs night-time high

So true. Working alone means you can work late into the night to get a project completed … and that does not effect anyone else. Unless your office is at your home, and the wife and children/cats are trying to sleep!

A good businessman knows when he needs to sleep, work, rest and play. A better businessman knows that he can work on less sleep, just so long as he has a learns that nanna-naps are an acceptable part of his day. Sleeping for twenty minutes during a lunch-break is a great way to keep your sanity in-check and creativity alive. Just don’t sleep for too long nor have a heavy lunch – This may make you more sleepy, thus inclined to want to work. Nobody wants to waste an afternoon, nor break good routines.

Freedom (Becca L-Smith)

Becca also said:

The freedom to choose what, when, how and why.

This is the ultimate reason to be a Solo-Worker. Pure freedom. The freedom to take the art, design, idea and project in different directions without anyone asking “why and what for” is what we crave.

Nobody to tell us what we should be doing, nobody showing us how to do what we already know (unless we ask), and nobody to ask “Whhyyyyy?”.

Well, other than the client. A good client asks why, a semi-bad client doesn’t care. Despite what you might think, a client that doesn’t care is bad. They are less inclined to get back to you with a final date for completion, less interested in the result, and possibly not interested in paying you for the effort. When a client is aware of the activity, but not so involved as to take over, you have someone who knows that they want yet knows you have been employed as the expert. Ideal situation.

Zombie Walk, Adelaide Oct 2009

No Moron Bosses (John D’Alton)

John’s suggestion that their would be no more moron bosses may well have some truth to it, though I don’t totally agree.

I’ve learnt that every day people make errors of judgement, people have head spasms that cause Tourettes syndrome to temporarily take over the mouth, some people choose to let their power go to their head, and some days people’s head explode for no reason whatsoever.

Since soloists are the boss of their business, they can also be morons. You don’t think so? Consider these situations: Taking on a bad client, screwing up a piece of art, forgetting to go back to auto-focus for a photo-shoot, hiring an assistant who knows it all yet doesn’t, under-estimating the time for a project and consequently under-charging for your time … all examples of where even a soloist can make mistakes and appear to be moronic. Yet this is just part of being an entrepreneur.

Trust me, I do know what John means by a moronic boss. But I cannot say I have ever had any. Sure, we’ve all disagreed with the judgement of a boss at some time in our working career. But when you are just a worker … that ain’t your problem to solve. Unless they are paying you accordingly.

More Internet Time (Faceless Man)

This guy said:

Being able to spend all day on social media sites, and then sit up and work at night when you actually have some ideas to work on.

Even better yet: Being able to claim this time on your tax-return. Though you wouldn’t say it was for that, you’d say something like: Study time. Which is easy enough. One window tab is a forum where you are discussing issues related to your field, whereas in the next tab you are having private discussions about key issues with the same people on Twitter!

Noise (Me, Myself, I)

I said:

1. Noise. Or lack thereof. I love silence…. or light radio that doesn’t allow people to sing along.

Whilst I don’t mind talking and laughing about issues of interest, I draw the line at women-talk about subjects that are sensitive, pointless or water-cooler gossip about personal relationships. I also don’t like inappropriate music during my writing time. There is nothing more distracting than talk-back radio or documentary-television whilst trying to think through HTML/CSS code for a site design!

As every soloist knows and loves, our working space is our fortress, domain, church and command-station. When we take control of our business, it is with both hands, ear, eyes, mouth and brain. No distractions unless asked for.

Well, I hope this article invokes discussion. I know I have put forward a whole heap of interesting views that you may not agree with. But that is the point: To encourage readers to get involved. I look forward to your response!!

BTW: The photographs included in this article are my own. I was fortunate enough to walk with the Adelaide Zombies last Saturday night. Check out my entire collection of photographs of the Zombies!

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