A Guide to Solopreneurship: A Conversation with Money Girl Laura Adams

If you've ever considered making the leap into solopreneurship or side hustling but you're intimidated by all that you don't know...then QDT's own Money Girl, Laura Adams, is here to help. She speaks to Modern Mentor about all things finance, insurance, productivity, and purpose in starting up your own gig.

Rachel Cooke
6-minute read
Episode #666
The Quick And Dirty

If you're interested in starting your own business, whether that's going freelance in your current career, driving a car for Uber, or consulting on the side, the most important thing to do is to just get started. Don't be afraid of the details, and don't feel like you need to quit your job to get started!

Maybe you’re tired of the full-time gig. Or you’re thinking of a side hustle. Or you’ve bought into the wisdom of having multiple income streams.
If you’ve got the bug—to gig, hustle, or found, then do I have the book—and the conversation for you.
QDT’s own Money Girl, Laura Adams, joins me to talk about all the things you don’t know—and don’t know you don’t know—when it comes to starting a hustle or business. In her new book, Money-Smart Solopreneur: A Personal Finance System for Freelancers, Entrepreneurs, and Side-Hustlers, she covers everything from finance to productivity to purpose, and we chat about the essentials in this week’s interview.
We began at the intersection of financial genius and workplace success.
“It is a scary world,” Laura told me,” for new business owners—there's a lot of questions, a lot of concerns, but the reality is it doesn't have to be scary. We can make it pretty simple.” This beautifully encapsulates her book as well as the conversation we had around it. 
You can listen to the full conversation using the player above, or in your favorite podcast app.

For the person who wants to start something on their own, but is just too afraid of the uncertainty, what advice would you offer?

Laura acknowledges that just getting started can be the most intimidating part. We anticipate all the things that could go wrong. But there is a cost, too, to standing still, to not taking a step toward financial independence.

"Don't hold back from a great idea due to a lot of detail."

“One of the themes of my book,” she explains, “is to just give it a go and have the courage to make a move.” Some of what makes solopreneurship so scary is thinking about everything you don’t know that you don’t know. “I see a lot of people who are very reticent to get started because they're so afraid that they're going to do something wrong…to violate some business law. And, and the reality is it's more likely that you should get started and then figure things out…So don't hold back from a great idea due to a lot of details.”
Maybe start a side hustle rather than a full-blown business. Whether that’s driving for a ride-sharing service or doing some small bits of freelance work in your free time, there are plenty of options that don’t require you to leave your job on day one.
“The beauty of starting something on the side is that you don't have a ton of financial risk… For a lot of people, the side hustle is the answer to earning more income so they can invest more for retirement or pay down debt, send a kid to college… if you're interested in getting started, that's the ideal way.”

Do I need to set myself up as a business the first time I earn a dollar as a side hustler or solopreneur?

The short answer is no.
“One piece of advice that I always give folks that are just getting started is to earn a little income first before incorporating… You want to prove the concept can work… it’s going to be a revenue-generating activity… And once you’ve earned $10,000 from your entrepreneurial work, that’s the point where I would say it’s time to start taking yourself a bit more seriously.”
If your proof of concept is a success, then it’s time to explore more formal financial systems.
“You’ll want to be sure you’re keeping your personal expenses separate from your business expenses…[this is] key because if you are not tracking that carefully, you may lose some of the potential tax deductions that you have.” 
For example, you may be having dinner with a potential client. If you’re paying for the dinner from “your personal bank account, and you forget to flag that as a tax-deductible expense…then that's money that you're not going to be able to save when taxes are due.”
“The only exception would be if you're getting into something where you do have a lot of legal liability, [like a catering business where you’re serving food]… in that case, you may want to form [a]  business structure [sooner than later]. You may want to chat with a business attorney [to fully understand the risk you’re taking on.]”

The world of business insurance is so intimidating!

A lot of people are intimidated by the idea of getting insurance…in part because it requires you to imagine all of the worst-case scenarios.
“It's not fun to think about all the things that can go wrong, but that's why insurance exists. There are a plethora of business policies out there.”

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What you need depends so much on what type of business you’re running and what your actual risk is.  
“So get advice from a licensed insurance broker… their advice is, is free, and it's generally going to be pretty good… So ask them…”
You’ll want to consider the actual risks you're facing—be it cyber-security, covering your inventory, or even covering income lost to injury or natural disaster.
You’ll also want to consider your clients’ expectations. Some business clients, for example, may require that you have a baseline of coverage in the context of consulting or advisory work.
In short, ask a lot of questions, and make informed decisions as you go. But don’t wait until every question is asked and answered before taking your first step.

But what if it doesn’t work out?

Entrepreneurship, Laura concedes, isn’t easy.
“The biggest myth,” she explains, “is that entrepreneurship is easy. I think too many people just think, ‘yeah, this is going to be a breeze.’ While that may be true for some, in general, it's a lot of hard work…"
Financially, we mitigate this risk by having savings set aside. If things aren’t going according to plan, the world won’t end as long as you’ve set aside those living expenses.
And from a career standpoint? Laura and I discussed how compelling even a short stint in entrepreneurship can be as part of your story. “Even if you only get a year's worth of entrepreneurial work under your belt… I can guarantee you're going to pick up some skills, you're going to meet some new people, you’re going to have some added value to bring back to your next employer. I know many people that go in and out of the freelance world and go back to W2…that's definitely been the case for me and every opportunity that I have, whether it's a W2 position working with a new client as a freelancer, I'm constantly learning new skills."
Laura and I went into greater depth on all these topics and more—listen to the full episode on the Modern Mentor podcast. You can find Laura on the Money Girl podcast, and don’t forget to pick up a copy of her new book Money-Smart Solopreneur: A Personal Finance System for Freelancers, Entrepreneurs, and Side-Hustlers. It’s a wonderful reference guide if you’re just getting started, even thinking about getting started, or a few years in but humble enough to realize there are details you’ve still not figured out completely!

About the Author

Rachel Cooke

Rachel Cooke is a leadership and workplace expert who holds her M.A. in Organizational Psychology from Columbia University. Founder of Lead Above Noise, she has been named a top 100 Leadership Speaker by Inc. Magazine and has been featured in Fast Company, The Huffington Post, and many more.

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