The Top Solopreneur Skill I Learned In 2023

The Solopreneur space: My learnings in the past six months

Picture of myself with a white jacket
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Reporting to my Board of Directors

As we enter the second half of the year, I can’t help but look back and reflect on the previous six months of my solopreneur journey: the wins, the opportunities, and the learnings. Although I slipped off the corporate ladder last year, two decades of thinking in ‘fiscal years’ and presenting ‘quarterly reports’ has become part of my DNA. I no longer report to a Board of Directors, and my most precious stakeholders are my readers, so here I am with my solopreneur report.

Starting my own thing has been challenging, thrilling, intimidating, and rewarding all at once. In the past six months, the learning about business has been exponential, from how to refine my value proposition to how to market and price my services and learn to sell myself. I had many firsts: my first book, my first newsletter, and my first paid public speaking gig. All those firsts translated into newly acquired skills, but the one that stands out (and I’m still working on) is agility.

About agility

Agility is a multidimensional skill that impacts individuals across all pillars: mental, emotional, and physical. Out of all the competencies, I have concluded it’s the number 1 skill to master in the world of solopreneurship. This is why.

Mental agility:

Your mind is like a top athlete that needs laser focus when it’s time to perform and deep rest when it’s time to reset. While as an employee, the hardest part was to start the work day, as a solopreneur, the hardest part is to finish it. There’s always one more article, one more email, one more pitch, and the line between peak performance and burnout becomes blurry. When does the work day really end?

Knowing how to create your optimal environment is the key to efficiency, and that high-performance room will look very different for everyone.

Mental agility also translates into the skill of saying yes and no. As someone highly motivated, I tend to say yes to too many things: a Podcast, a new business partnership, an endorsement, an event… Yes, yes, yes! Learning to say ‘no’ has been the key to focusing my energy and being able to prioritize. It also means I have intentionally decided to write less but more purposely. Less but better. Less with focus. Less with intent.

Emotional agility:

When you start your thing, everyone has an opinion. Every single one. People will congratulate you, admire you, criticize you, and gossip about you. I’m learning to neutralize feedback and not take things personally. I’m probably not as amazing as my grandma thinks and not as unworthy as my ‘unfollowers’ think.

Unsubscribing from toxicity is a good recipe no matter what you do in life: I don’t follow people who add negativity to a world that doesn’t need an extra dose. Instead, I surround myself with friends, connections, creators, and writers with an abundance mindset, people who want to create, connect, ideate, and add value.

Besides my close circle of family and friends, this has allowed me to create rich connections on Medium, virtual friendships on LinkedIn, and even unexpected partnerships such as LinkedIn Live sessions and over 10 Podcasts since January.

Trolls and digital opportunists still bother me, but I now take a deep breath and let it go. No answer, no explanation, all they get is gracious silence.

Learning agility:

With information and knowledge at your fingertips, business has never been more accessible. While in the past, you needed capital, University Degrees, and an entire infrastructure to create a business, today, all you need is a computer and a Wi-Fi connection.

If you are hungry for knowledge, you can launch your own basic website, learn about SEO to drive traffic, grasp the principles of copywriting to create engagement and launch a digital product in a matter of months.

We are often reluctant to learn about things because they intimidate us: I felt overwhelmed by Web 3.0 and the Metaverse, the crypto world gave me the creeps, and I’m still on the fence about AI. I decided to face my digital demons, and thanks to LinkedIn Learning, I studied the Metaverse extensively (and even published an article on it), I opened a digital wallet on Binance (just as an experiment), and I’m timidly getting my toes into the whole AI thing.

You can’t be a solopreneur if you are not a learner at heart: by nature, you are always creating, learning, and experimenting. A solopreneur is the ultimate life student. There’s no final graduation, no end to the books.

“Stay hungry, stay foolish” — Steve Jobs

Strategic agility:

A solopreneur needs to be a strategic CEO and develop the ability to fly at 1,000 miles to zoom out and see the whole picture, and quickly zoom in and become a tactical soldier in the field.

I find it hard to find the right balance: I’m either getting lost in long-term planning and high-level thinking, or I get distracted by the font for my logo. The truth is, both are important!

I haven’t quite mastered yet the smooth dance between strategy and tactic, but I have learned to delegate more on the operational front (I outsource things like design, editing, and accounting) and try to focus on the quarterly plan with a realistic lens rather than planning to big too wide.

Strategic agility is also about understanding the impact and benefits of every action/ investment: some activities build brand equity, others yield leads, and some convert to sales. You need all of them, and being strategic about your sales funnel can pay more dividends.

Financial agility:

Failing is good because it’s part of taking risks and seizing opportunities; failing fast is better because it gives room to move on. I’m learning not to get too caught up in projects that don’t have wings. Letting go is an amazing skill that allows you to refocus your energy.

Most entrepreneurs will tell you that you must diversify your income streams and create passive income. I’m working on both. I’m spreading my little eggs across different baskets, from consultancy to public speaking and writing, besides investment in real estate and stock. If one fails, I’m building cushions and back-ups.

So far, my only passive income comes from my books and stock dividends, but I’m learning about digital courses, and that might be next for 2024.

Cultural agility:

Cultural agility is a strong currency in a globalized economy, and a strong cultural compass is a tool that builds trust. I have always been passionate about cultures and languages, but as a digital solopreneur, I’m starting to leverage it to my advantage to have a bigger footprint. Although I’m primarily based in Hong Kong, I’m doing business with partners/ clients in Australia and South East Asia.

Investing in cultural IQ is a win-win as it opens new business opportunities. It’s a timeless passport that allows you to build a global business with endless possibilities.

What’s next

I’m excited about the next six months, and I can’t wait to see the hard work come to fruition. I know some seeds will start turning into trees, like my third book, while others will dry out along the way, but it doesn’t matter. The journey is exciting, motivation is free, and the sun is shining here in Australia!

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Veronica Llorca Smith
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Veronica Llorca Smith

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