I’ve been thinking about this one for a while.  First, I own and operate the Uncorked Ventures Wine Club and yes, I’m a solopreneur.

There, I said it out loud.

I’ve learned a few things over the past couple years being a solopreneur, I thought this was as good of a spot as any to share them.

Here’s 4 challenges I’ve faced as a solopreneur:

1) Time

We all have time issues with work, that I can appreciate.  But, as a solopreneur one of the big challenges in regard to time, is how to divide it.  There are a variety of short vs long term goals that aren’t always in focus with my online wine club. 

As an example, I’m creating a range of gift baskets for Amazon.  It’s fun.  But, it takes a lot of time.  Spending time sourcing products for these gift baskets might bring me away from other tasks like shipping orders.

I constantly have to judge my time and if it should be relegated to short term, or longer term tasks.

2) Expectations

I’ve seen consumer expectations change in two ways since I’ve been in business.

First, Amazon has completely and utterly changed the way we think of shipping time frames. Now, even though Amazon itself doesn’t offer 2 day shipping for wine, many people expect my small business to do so. Also, you damn well better ship stuff immediately, otherwise people start to ask hard questions.

Second, so many people think that the start up scene is wonderful and is full of other companies like Uber and Airbnb.  Unfortunately, not all of us see that level of growth and cannot offer that same level of service.

3) Money

I talked about gift baskets before, those are rather expensive to put together.  Like any small business, creating a new product line might mean less money coming in this month to my personal bank account.  The Bay Area is an expensive spot to live. REALLY EXPENSIVE.

4) Freebies

I think all businesses run into this, but I’m friggin amazed how many requests I get from people and non profits that I don’t know, for free wine.

I had a major international organization approach me a couple of weeks ago and asked for what they deemed a small donation, about 700 bottles of wine, which would cost me close to $10k.

I don’t have a customer in that organization and no one over there has ever bought wine from me.  But, from their outreach email, they love their wine.  So they’re buying it from somewhere.

I wonder why they didn’t approach those folks for a donation.  Ok, I don’t wonder because I know the large retailers have budgets for this stuff and they’re often incredibly small-think something along the lines of 25 bottles from a large store, for the year.

I could easily donate more wine than I sell.  Easily.

All in all, I love being an entrepreneur.  There are so many positive aspects.  But, being a solopreneur is hard.  Really hard.