On Going Solo

In honor of Labor Day, I salute all those who are gainfully self-employed or are about to become solo-prenuers. Regardless of your specialty, you’ll find many challenges and joys to working on your own. The chief challenge is that “everyday you’re self-employed, you wake up unemployed.” The reality is SO not like a Field of Dreams! But this challenge is offset by the fact that I work for someone I respect. Seriously, if you ever worked for even one bad boss, you understand how empowering it is to work on your own.

The learning curve is long and provides many invaluable lessons as the market changes and your business evolves. Besides continually honing your expertise in whatever it is you offer in your solo practice, you also learn:

  • the importance of being focused
  • how to manage serving current customers/clients while also developing new business
  • when and how to reach out to other professionals for help (e.g., bankers, accountants, lawyers, computer techs, marketers, business coaches, etc.)
  • how to work with suppliers, printers, web-designers, search engine specialists, etc., as partners rather than vendors
  • how to network and stay connected with other people to avoid feeling isolated.

I remember making the decision to start Quality Service Marketing in 1988 after extensive networking and contemplation. Leaving a secure workplace to work on my own was scary, but job security was relative as two of the last banks I worked for had been acquired by larger banks. Here are excerpts from notes I made when considering that momentous decision. In going solo I wanted:

  • Less frustration in a corporate environment I was not happy with. (Reminder to self: Yes, it really was that bad!)
  • More control over my career.
  • More opportunity for greater achievement.
  • More time and flexibility to be with my family.

I’m amazed I’ve been in business 26 years now as it certainly doesn’t seem that long — mostly because I love what I do helping clients better engage employees, volunteers, and customers through internal marketing. I’ve experienced highs and lows along the journey, but I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

Happy Labor Day!


  • sybil September 3, 2014 Reply

    Cheryl, Yvonne, Toby, Kim – thanks for sharing your stories. How fortunate we all are to be able to do work that we love. And we’ve been at it so long because we’re good at it!

  • Cheryl Winters-Tetreau September 2, 2014 Reply


    Thanks for reminding me why I ventured out on my own back in 1999. The time really does fly when you enjoy what you do. For me, being able to offer editorial services to a worldwide clientele all from the comfort of my home has been amazing, a little bit scary at times but, overall, extremely fulfilling. I wouldn’t trade it for life back in the corporate world!

  • Yvonne DiVita September 2, 2014 Reply

    Sybil, this post was a trip back in time for me. I so relate to the “less frustration” bullet. I worked for so many bosses that hired me to do what I’m good at, writing, then wouldn’t let me write. When I went out on my own, I didn’t immediately worry about making money… I knew I could get clients if I networked and showed the value I could bring.

    And that’s what I did. In the lean times, yes, I worried a bit, but at least I was in control. It was because of MY efforts that the business worked and paid the bills.

    I am an entrepreneur at heart. There’s no way around it. Corporate and I just do not get along.

  • Toby Bloomberg September 1, 2014 Reply

    It was by default … probably not the best way to begin anything. I was looking for a ‘job’ and people asked me to help with projects and consulting. Before I realized I had forgotten to look for the job.

  • Kim Plyler September 1, 2014 Reply

    I started Sahl Communications Inc because I saw a huge void in the world of communications & PR. Not enough focus on missions. I wanted to grow a company that would employ like minded and mission-focused individuals while helping foster economic and community development.

    To me it isn’t really a job it’s a life choice one that I hold true to. You help others grow you help your community grow.

    We enjoy connecting people and telling their stories. From government and technology to non-profits and the arts, we love what we do and we do what we love.

    And just about five years from the day we opened our doors we are going strong and enjoy helping our clients and making their missions happen. Headquartered in Bethlehem PA we have expanded our reach to Wash DC, San Francisco, and Frankfurt Germany.

    To us it’s not labor it’s life.

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