5 golden rules to sole trader success

By Nick Hall | 09 Jan 2020 View comments

Sole trader solutions make perfect sense if you want to generate income and build your own business but you’re on a budget.

No one knows this better than former Franchise Council of Australia Franchise of the Year (single unit two staff or less) award winner Bev Taylor.

Back in 2017, she scooped the top award for her work as a franchisee for shipping and logistics business, InXpress Australia.

She’s a high achiever, and loves the benefits of zero commuting time and flexibility around her working day. But she also understands first-hand the challenges of being a sole trader. So, what’s her secret?

We spoke with Bev as she revealed five must-follow rules to success as a solo entrepreneur.

1. Accountability

Working from home means you are only accountable to yourself, so don’t let this be the case. Partner with another remote worker or colleague and have weekly calls to hold each other accountable. Share (and report back on) your targets, goals, to-do list and essential actions. Also have a pact with each other and agree to be the “virtual co-worker” to call each other if things are tough. Knowing someone is there to reach out to eliminates the need half the time, but don’t be scared to take each other up on it when you feel you need to.

2. Mentor

Enlisting the help of a mentor is something that made all the difference to me and my business. Set goals and actions together, and always aim high. Never underestimate the power of the right mentor; they will give practical advice, encouragement and support, share experiences from others. They can help identify which areas need improvement and how to improve, and address your personal and academic skills.

3. Meetings

Always hold a weekly meeting with yourself. I know this sounds a little crazy but it really helps summarise and clarify your activity and direction. I find this is best done on a Monday morning, away from your working space.

Sit at the kitchen table and literally have a meeting with yourself to discuss and review how the last week went. What went well and what didn’t? Did you achieve your tasks and goals? What is it that stopped you, and how can you avoid this happening again? Then, finally, plan the week ahead.

4. Set strict time blocks

This is essential so you do not lose time working on unimportant tasks. On a weekly basis set your major goals and actions in your personal (or peer) weekly meeting, then each night review what you have achieved and what needs to be done the next day. Set and update your to-do list and schedule those time blocks for the following day.

Do not change them for anything other than emergencies. Remember, new non-urgent tasks will be addressed on your to-do list at the end of the day. Be firm.

5. Take a break!

My mentor taught me to plan a few days break away from home every three months. Apart from having something to look forward to, a break encourages you to actually take some time out. After all, you have earned it. And if you can, try not to work on your days off; set yourself free time and stick to it as much as possible. Before anything else, always focus on being kind to yourself!

Sole trader success

With sole trader operations generally offer a lower-investment opportunity, it’s important to remember that working by yourself is no easy task.

The accountability of being around others holds you accountable in its own right so you are less likely to digress, spend too long on a personal call or open social media a little too much.

If you really want to take the next step in business, consider if franchising is right for you, and what’s more, if a solo journey fits the bill.