Panel discussion on “Becoming a Solo Pro: Entrepreneurship and Launching Your Own Business” inspires lively exchange of ideas
At the April 11 AWC Seattle luncheon on launching your own business, Dana Van Nest, AWC’s vice president for professional development, first asked attendees how they identify themselves and their work. Do we identify ourselves as a freelancer, consultant, contractor, entrepreneur or something else? The most common “something else” was business owner. The audience also shared key interests such as lessons learned, how to manage multiple roles and how to get started on launching a solo pro career.
Perhaps one of the most important suggestions the panelists made was to define your personal vision of success. Success comes in various forms, so knowing whether money, flexibility, or working for a specific cause is your goal will aid your solo career tremendously. By looking inward and asking hard questions about your goals, you will shape your career path as an entrepreneur.
The panelists addressed technical aspects of becoming a solo pro. Many components can help you successfully grow your business. Recognizing when to hire staff or outside professionals is important. Whether your need is for a CPA, a lawyer, a bookkeeper, or more professionals to meet your client needs, it is imperative to identify and fill those needs so that you can concentrate on what you do best.
Differentiating between what you are actually doing versus what you want to be known for was a key suggestion from the panel. Ideally these two objectives should align but as you start out, you will take on work that you can do well but that isn’t what you most enjoy or are best at doing. Ultimately, you should put your time and attention into marketing that helps attract your ideal business — that work for which you want to be known and that gives you the most satisfaction.
Most importantly, all three panelists stressed the importance of following your dreams. While it sounds like a cliché, it is completely true. Erica pointed out that no one should live the rest of her life with that nagging question in the back of their mind: what if?
When considering becoming an entrepreneur, Lorraine suggested you look at the opportunity from your 85-year-old self’s perspective. When you are 85, will you be proud of your accomplishments? Will you be wishing you had taken the leap into entrepreneurship? These decisions should not be taken lightly and our panelists did an excellent job of acknowledging both the challenges and achievements that can come with the launching of a solo professional career.
—Emma Bohmke, AWC Seattle member