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Teamwork Makes the Dream Work?

  • People

The pressure to constantly hustle, grow, and scale up can feel overwhelming. There’s an unspoken (and sometimes very loudly spoken) belief that true success means having a big business with staff, offices, and a brand that everyone knows. But is that the only path to success?

We’ve all heard the African proverb “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” But does that resonate in today’s fast paced world. One where information, freelancers, the gig economy and AI are at your fingertips.

If you can achieve your definition of success alone, why would you bother building a team. Is it a case of vanity over sanity?

Let’s dive into the pros and cons of running your own business as a solopreneur versus building a team and explore why defining your own version of success is crucial.

Solopreneurship: The Lone Ranger of Business

Pros

1. Autonomy and Control

As a solopreneur, you call all the shots. There’s no need to consult with anyone else or get approval for your ideas. You have the freedom to pivot quickly, make decisions on the fly, and steer your business in any direction you choose. You only need to satisfy yourself. “Do you think that’s a good idea, Jon? Great Jon, let’s do it.”

2. Lower Overheads

Without a team to pay or an office to maintain, your overhead costs are significantly lower. This financial freedom can allow you to invest more back into your business or enjoy a higher personal income. With WFH normalised since the pandemic we can all stop paying for that swanky London registered office address (you know no one’s buying that anyway – right?).

3. Flexibility

Being your own boss means you can work whenever and wherever you want. Whether you’re a night owl or an early bird, you can tailor your schedule to fit your personal preferences and lifestyle. Unless you have kids in which case your day still isn’t your own regardless of what you may tell yourself.

4. Skill Development

When you’re responsible for every aspect of your business, you inevitably learn a lot. From marketing to accounting, you’ll gain a wide range of skills that can be incredibly valuable. With that wonderful range of skills, you can charge top dollar. Kerching! Show me the money!

Cons

1. Limited Capacity

There’s only so much one person can do. As a solopreneur, you may find it challenging to scale your business beyond a certain point because your time and energy are finite resources. Is this true in today’s world with the gig economy, freelancers, AI, outsourcing, insourcing, offshoring etc. The world is a small place, and you don’t need to hire a team of people to achieve big outcomes.

2. Isolation

Running a business alone can be lonely. Without a team to brainstorm with or share the workload, you might miss out on the camaraderie and support that come with working with others. I have combated this by joining in with local communities. Working on my own I have never been so isolated, but I am not alone.

3. Burnout Risk

The constant pressure to manage everything yourself can lead to burnout. Without anyone to share the load, the weight of the business rests solely on your shoulders. Simple – don’t have to take on too much by charging inappropriately for that amazing skillset you have accumulated. Hiring people to deal with inadequate pricing or unproductive strategies does not solve the problem it heightens it.

Building a Team: The Power of Many

Pros

1. Increased Capacity

With a team, you can delegate tasks and focus on the bigger picture. This allows your business to scale and take on more projects or clients than you could handle alone. So you can spend more time on the golf course or spending money.

2. Diverse Skill Sets

A team brings together people with different strengths and expertise. This diversity can lead to more innovative solutions and a stronger overall business. Not to be confused with the constant need for meetings to thrash out differences of opinions or misunderstanding of another viewpoint.

3. Shared Responsibility

Having a team means you don’t have to carry the burden of the business alone. This can reduce stress and help prevent burnout, as responsibilities are shared among several people. Hmmm or you end up shouldering the responsibility of your whole team for all their pains and woes personal and business related. Shared responsibility should not be confused with oversharing.

4. Collaboration and Support

Working with a team provides opportunities for collaboration and support. You’ll have people to bounce ideas off, offer feedback, and celebrate successes with. You get to pick up the bar bill at the end of the week after you’ve enjoyed listening to how shit everyone’s week has been.

Cons

1. Management Challenges

Building and managing a team requires a different skill set than running a business alone. Not everyone is a natural leader, and poor management can lead to conflicts, low morale, and high turnover. This is something I suffered with the first time around. I am a poor manager. There I said it. In fact, I am probably being nice – I am a shit manager.

2. Higher Costs

Salaries, benefits, office space, and other expenses add up quickly when you have a team. These higher costs can strain your finances, especially in the early stages of growth. I ran a practice with staff for 10 years. At no point during that time did I earn more money than in year one when working alone. I did manage to buy back my time.

3. Loss of Control

With more people involved, you might have to compromise on your vision or approach. Decision-making can become slower and more complex as you consider the input and perspectives of your team members. Never happens in a dictatorship. The truth is that most people you work with want to keep their heads down, do the job and go home especially in an accounting setting. Those that want to excel will often want to learn and do their own thing.

Defining Your Own Success

In an age where social media bombards us with images of other people’s achievements, it’s easy to feel like we’re not doing enough. But success is not one-size-fits-all. It’s deeply personal and varies from person to person. Unless you define your own version of success before you get started the likelihood is you will get swept away with it all. Nothing is set in stone. You can always change your mind but make sure you have some form of a plan.

The Comparison Trap

The comparison trap refers to the tendency to measure one’s own worth, success, or happiness against that of others. This habit can lead to negative feelings like envy, inadequacy, and low self-esteem. The comparison trap is particularly insidious because it often involves comparing our real lives, with all their flaws and complexities, to the often-curated, highlight-reel lives of others.

How the Comparison Trap Works

Selective Presentation: People tend to share only the best parts of their lives on social media. This selective presentation creates an unrealistic standard of happiness, success, and beauty.

Perceived Deficiencies: When we compare ourselves to these idealised versions of others, we can feel that our own lives are lacking. We focus on what we don’t have rather than what we do.

Emotional Impact: Constant comparison can lead to feelings of inadequacy, jealousy, and depression. It creates a cycle of negative self-assessment that can be hard to break.

My career has spanned 25 years and I’ve run my own business for 13 of those years. Even for the most hardened of us there is always an element of looking over the garden fence at what the neighbours have. It really doesn’t matter if you know what you are trying to achieve. Run your own race, swim in your own lane whatever you want to call it. To avoid the comparison trap you must have clarity of thought. You can achieve that by asking yourself these questions.

Remember most important of all – nearly everything you see on social media is bullshit. The cars are leased, the clothes are on credit cards and the private school is paid for on a Directors Loan Account.

Questions to Ask Yourself

1. What Are Your Goals?

Do you want to build a global brand, or are you content with a small, profitable business that gives you a comfortable lifestyle?

2. What Are Your Strengths?

Are you a natural leader who enjoys managing people, or do you prefer working independently and focusing on your craft?

3. What Lifestyle Do You Want?

Are you willing to work long hours and handle the pressures of a large team, or do you value flexibility and a better work-life balance?

4. What Are Your Values?

Is financial success your top priority, or do you place more importance on creative freedom, personal fulfilment, or making a positive impact?

Conclusion

Lone ranger or team manager? Can you guess which one I am?

There’s no right or wrong way to run a business, and you shouldn’t feel pressured to follow a particular path just because it’s what others deem successful. Whether you choose to fly solo or build a team, the most important thing is to understand your own definition of success and pursue it with passion and determination. Embrace your journey, celebrate your milestones, and remember that true success is about creating a life that aligns with your values and aspirations.

So, take a step back, reflect on what you really want, and chart your own course. After all, you’re the one who must live with the choices you make. Make sure they’re the right ones for you.