Author Archives: Debi Mollahan

Solopreneur Survival: The 5 Scariest Things About Working Alone (and How to Control Them)

By Laura Gayle, Business Woman Guide

You’re ready to go out on your own as a solopreneur, and you’ve got major butterflies in your stomach. Who could blame you? This decision is a huge one and can be scary if you aren’t careful. There are so many challenges that you’ll face, including the five below, that it can seem impossible to succeed. But it’s not! With some planning and proactivity, you can overcome these problems and become the success that you deserve.

Running Low on Motivation

Trying to stay motivated to complete your day-to-day tasks is hard enough when you’re employed by someone else. But when you’re your own boss, you’re going to find your energy flagging from time to time. And since you’re totally solo, you can’t take many days off! Thankfully, the Mayo Clinic outlined some of the easiest ways to stay motivated, which you can easily integrate into your lifestyle.

Start by setting goals that you know you can reach. Long-distance goals are essential, but you also need smaller ones that help you achieve the bigger picture. And, most importantly, try to make everything as fun as possible. If you’re genuinely enjoying your time as a solopreneur and having fun with it, you’re going to experience more success and stay as motivated as possible.

Doing Your Taxes

Nobody likes tax season, and few hate it more than solopreneurs. Unlike other businesses that have a broad base of income on which to draw for paying taxes, you’ll be paying taxes out of your own pocket. This situation can be frustrating and scary if you try to embark on it with no help. There are so many mistakes that one can make when doing taxes that, in the worst-case scenario, you might freeze up and struggle to get them done at all.

Thankfully, you don’t have to take this difficult step on your own. Instead, you can hire a professional tax firm to handle most of the difficult elements for you. And you can also consult tax-preparation apps online to help you get an idea of what to expect. Remember that, as a solopreneur, just about every element of your life can be used as a tax write-off in some way. So don’t hesitate to get smart — but stay legal! — with your returns.

Being Solely Responsible

People who go solo are going to find that they have to make all the big decisions for their business: Which computers and hardware to work from? Which software platforms to use? How to secure insurance and retirement benefits? Whom to consult for accounting, payroll, taxes, bookkeeping? How to safeguard client and company information? 

The answer to the last question is, happily, becoming a no-brainer: Cloud storage is becoming the standard solution for storing precious data that is both safe and easily accessible from almost anywhere with an internet connection. A safe spot in the cloud almost virtually ensures that you won’t run into info storage complications down the road.

Operations and logistics questions are sometimes easier to answer for solopreneurs. Often the harder part, in the face of so many potential pitfalls, is maintaining self-esteem. Remind yourself as often as possible that you’re an intelligent and skilled person who is working hard to become even more successful — you wouldn’t have gotten this far if you were anything else! 

Staying Afloat with Unreliable Income

Though you can make great money as a solopreneur once you get into the game, you’re also going to run into patches of low income. This situation can be a challenge to anybody — troubles with overhead costs, loss of security, or substandard benefits. However, you can overcome this problem if you’re clever about the ways you use your income.

Try to find ways to minimize your overhead costs, such as cutting back on office space you don’t need or reducing your travel expenses. And try to find inexpensive health insurance to keep yourself healthy while on the road. You may even want to consider moving to a less expensive city — such as Kansas City, for example, with its robust job market and low rents — to ensure that your income remains flexible and your overhead less demanding.

Being Lonely

Being a solopreneur is a thrilling and unforgettable adventure for most, but it can also be a lonely one. Taking advantage of industry groups, co-working spaces, chambers of commerce, local business meetups, and other business-related opportunities for networking can help you build a base of professional contacts and colleagues. 

The problem of loneliness and isolation can be farther-reaching, though, particularly if you travel a lot — and with a solo business, you almost certainly will, at least at first. Without a home base from which to operate, you might find you have a hard time meeting people outside of work. Thankfully, there are ways to expand your social network while traveling:

  • Hostels — Stay in these low-cost travel centers to not only save money but also meet unique people during your travels.
  • Day tours — Take a break and meet new people while visiting exciting areas in the city.
  • Night events — Sign up for a pub crawl, cooking class, or any other event that piques your interest, and meet a group of engaging and fun people while you’re doing it.
  • Couchsurfing apps — Meet people using the “hangout” function travel apps.

There are many simple activities that can help stave off some of the loneliness of being a solopreneur. However, you may also want to take steps to meet someone outside of work who’s interested in the same kind of lifestyle or activities as you — whether it’s sports, science, the arts, travel, or whatever. This kind of connection can help you beat loneliness (and focus on work during the hours it’s called for).

The many challenges of being a solopreneur aren’t impossible to overcome if you’re smart and persistent. With careful management of your time and energy, you can stay happy and focused, becoming a successful and satisfied person while on this life journey. So get out there and do it!   

Paid Family Leave Legislation

Paid Family Leave (HB 2005) is the last remaining Paid Family Leave (PFL) Bill under consideration. OSCC is still awaiting amendments for a new paid family leave bill that would implement a new 12-week paid family leave program for all businesses down to the first employee. Employers with under 25 employees would not be required to do an employer side payroll withhold, only an employee payroll withhold.  We don’t have final language on the proposal, but we can share a sheet that shows the features of the new proposal. 

Previous versions of this proposal under various bills including HB 3031 provided up 32 weeks of leave and required employers with 1 plus employees to do employer side payroll withholds and didn’t accommodate or recognize like or better plans already provided by business.  Based on feedback from business organizations including chambers (our letter to legislators), the remaining PFL bill has been revised to a more manageable size/set of requirements.

Remember, several business organizations have asked for passage of this proposal, thereby increasing the likelihood of passage. The theory was that if business did not support a paid family leave proposal in the 2019 session, we would be confronted with a ballot measure in 2020 that would propose a far more costly and unwieldy system

PERS Unfunded Liability – Legislation & Solutions

PERS cost savings legislation passes. SB 1049 passed the Senate with a bare 16-vote majority and then followed with passage in the House with a bare 31-vote majority, but only after Speaker Kotek stood ‘at ease’ on the House floor and called Democrats into her office to twist enough arms to secure the 31 votes she needed.

It was perhaps the most impressive display of political clout that we’ve seen all session. The Speaker literally marshaled all 31 votes she needed from her own caucus (no Republicans voted for the bill), and in the process infuriated her caucus’ biggest constituency and benefactor (public employee unions). It was truly impressive.

As a refresher on the substance of SB 1049:

  • Tier 1 and Tier 2 members, who are public employees who entered the PERS system before 2004, would have 2.5% of their salaries diverted from their individual retirement accounts into paying off the system’s debt.
  • Workers hired 2004 of later (PERS Tier 3 and Tier 4), would face a lower diversion – 0.75% of their salaries.
  • The biggest cost savings comes from the re-amortization of the pension debt. Over 2/3 of the savings comes from this re-financing provision.
  • A reduction in assumed interest rate for retirees who use the “money match” method of calculating their pension benefits.
  • SAIF is largely held harmless.
  • About $600 million in pension cost savings per biennium across state government and schools.

For more information on the PERS Unfunded liability, how we got there and possible solutions and coalition information, go to

Networking for Introverts

I’ve been doing some reading on a variety of topics. In so doing it struck me that many of our chamber events, particularly networking are really more geared to individuals who may be higher on the scale of extrovert. 

We are all on a continuum between 100% introvert and 100% extrovert. If you are fairly balanced between the two, then you might be an ambivert.  

Really the classification of whether you are an introvert has to do with how you recharge. 

Do you get your energy from being with a group of people and feeding off that energy and that charges you? – You are likely higher on the continuum toward extrovert. 

Does being with large groups of people actually pull energy from you and you get your energy from things like alone time, time spent with maybe 1 or 2 people, doing something, creative, active, etc? – Then you are on the other end of the continuum moving towards introvert.  If you are kind of in the middle with some characteristics of both you may be an ambivert.

It isn’t that introverts can’t connect, network and participate in large group settings, its just that particular activity doesn’t recharge their batteries.  So if you a reading this and saying, that is so me, then here are some tips for navigating business networking and making it work for you, while being true to yourself.

Redefine what Networking Looks like to You – Let’s call it Connecting, Building Relationships, don’t feel like you have to be this big outgoing personality.  Leverage your strengths, listen, be empathetic, ask a couple of key questions. Figure out your purpose for being there, like I am trying to hire people and ask if they know someone that can help.  Ask what they are trying to achieve, see how you can help.

Don’t Try to Work the Whole Room – Isn’t that a Relief!:)  Try to find kindred spirits, those more on the periphery, find people you truly connect with and go deeper with fewer more meaningful conversations.  Try for at least two.  Who knows where that might lead.

Focus on Asking Good Questions – Give it some thought, and then lean in and listen. Ask questions that can help you figure out how to be of use in building the relationship.  What excites you, what is the biggest challenge you are facing, where do you hope to take your business…..

Bring a Wing Man if that makes you feel better.  There is strength and comfort in numbers and at least you know one person there.

Don’t arrive late after everyone is connected and talking, it makes it harder and more intimidating to break in on a conversation.

Considering Volunteering to Work the Event – Gives you something to do, and and easy way of being introduced.

Ask your chamber staff or ambassadors for an introduction either in person or digitally.  State what you are looking for.  We all need help achieving our goals and our chamber is built on that belief among the members.

Hope you enjoyed this article and find it useful.  Stay tuned for more tips on leveraging the strengths you bring to the table as an introvert in building relationships for your business!

14 Ways to Attract the Best & Brightest Employees

Everyone wants to attract the best and brightest employees. After all, your team directly affects your ability to provide excellent customer service and that is essential to business success these days.

If you’re a very small business, you might not be looking for the best and the brightest but the willing and capable. That’s good too.

But either way, you want to attract good, quality employees just like everyone else. In today’s job market, with unemployment hovering around 3.6%, it’s a job hunter’s paradise and you’re likely hard-pressed to find the stars you want.

To further complicate that, those stars are likely already employed. So how do you become the kind of business that people want to work for? How do you get them to knock on your door instead of you having to chase them? Here are some ideas to help make you an employer of choice in your community.

Become an Employer of Choice and Potential Employees Will Seek You Out

The beauty of becoming an employer of choice–someone everyone wants to work for–is that it doesn’t cost a lot of money. It’s also a lot easier than you might think but there are a couple of things you need to do before we talk about the facets behind a great workplace.

You must know who you’re looking for

Before you recreate your business to attract quality employees, you need to know who those employees are. Are you looking for seasoned professionals or someone with little experience who you can mold? Are you looking for a “hunter” personality or a “nurturer”? Maybe you only want naturally curious people, for instance. Yes, some of these things are position specific, but others reflect the type of culture you want to build.

One note of caution: this tip is by no means suggesting you scout for a particular demographic. That can get you into trouble legally through discriminatory hiring practices.

However, there are overarching themes you should be looking for that help you build the type of environment that will contribute to the service you want to provide your customers.

Know what your competition is doing

While you should never use your competition’s actions to hold you back by thinking, “They’re not doing it yet. We don’t have to.”, you should keep an eye on their hiring and recruiting practices. You don’t want them to pass you up.

You need to talk about yourself

This is hard for a lot of employers but it is absolutely necessary in becoming an employer of choice in the community. But don’t be a bore about it. Don’t tell people how great you are. Show them. Post what you’re doing, what you value, and celebrate your people doing it well for all to see. That’s the kind of thing that will get people excited about working for you.

Speaking of that. let’s jump right in to how you can become a highly desired business in your community (even if you’re teeny tiny):

  • Be flexible with work hours and/or provide work at home opportunities. It needn’t be full-time just give the flexibility.
  • Offer flexible start times. There are some businesses that this does not work for but others can adopt a coordinated window of when people start. Parents really appreciate this perk.
  • Have an attractive work facility or public spaces.
  • Offer safe, ample parking.
  • Make professional development a key component of what you offer. The chamber may provide some very cost-effective options for helping you do this. As a chamber member, your employees can attend their programming.
  • Insist that everyone use their vacation time and don’t create such an intense environment that they feel they can’t.
  • Market your ideas behind work/life balance.
  • Let your personality shine through all of your social media posts, web copy, and business communications.

Tips for Hospitality, Food Service, and Retail

These industries are notorious for the revolving door and it’s difficult to become an employer of choice in many of them because the things that office employers can do (like flexible start times) can’t be accomplished in these industries. But here are a few things you can offer such as:

  • Pay a higher wage for the area.
  • Schedule samplings and trial times. For instance, host paired tastings for employees after the restaurant closes or host a mini fashion show with paired items your employees put together from the store. It will make them better salespeople when they are suggesting dishes or outfits.
  • Celebrate your best employees and help everyone become your best.
  • Ask for employee suggestions and listen to them.
  • Empower them to do better by the customer.
  • Don’t make them feel secondary to the customer. Instead, help them feel like they are pivotal to customer experience and without them, there wouldn’t be customers.

With today’s low unemployment rate, finding quality employees can be a struggle. You will do much better in recruiting and hiring if they notice you and seek you out. As an employer of choice in your community, you will have your pick of future employees and that’s a good spot to be in.

Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine,, AssociationTech, and WritersWeekly. She is a regular blogger at and the Event Manager Blog.  

Christina is an introverted writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.