Momentum Podcast: 585

The Solopreneur Fantasy

by Alex Charfen

Episode Description

Being a solopreneur is a fantasy. This conversation happens so often in the entrepreneurial world. Entrepreneurs have the idea in their head that they don’t need anybody else in order to grow their business to where they want to be. They think they can do it all themselves, and that a team would only slow them down. The problem with this line of thinking is that there is not a single entrepreneur in the history of the world who was able to build the business of their dreams without a team. If you make the decision to build a team, you will have the opportunity to change the world.

The issue is that entrepreneurs often feel like a team will restrict them and take away their freedom. They became entrepreneurs to shake off the responsibilities of managing other people. The problem is that building a business on your own is one of the most damaging things you can do to your body, your mind, and your relationships. The commitment to build a team is what truly creates freedom. If you know you have the opportunity to make a bigger impact, grow a massive business, and change the world for the better, it is time to give up what is really holding you back: The Solopreneur Fantasy.

Full Audio Transcript

This is The Momentum Podcast.

I'm at the point in my life where I get a steady stream of opportunities, opportunities to partner with people, opportunities to advise and be on advisory boards. Opportunities, to own parts of companies. Recently I had an opportunity come through my team where an entrepreneur wanted me to potentially invest in a business and advise a business where they were going to grow it to tens of millions of dollars without having a team. Not only would I never invest in that business, no one should.

I'm Alex Charfen and this is The Momentum Podcast made for empire builders, game changers, trailblazers, shot takers, record breakers, world makers and creators of all kinds. Those among us who can't turn it off and don't know why anyone would want to. We challenge complacency, destroy apathy, and we are obsessed with creating momentum. So we can roll over bureaucracy and make our greatest contribution.

Sure, we pay attention to their rules, but only so that we can bend them, break them, then rewrite them around our own will. We don't accept our destiny. We define it. We don't understand defeat because you only lose if you stop and we don't know how. While the rest of the world strives for average and clings desperately to the status quo, we are the minority. The few, who are willing to hallucinate there could be a better future and instead of just daydreaming of what could be, we endure the vulnerability and exposure it takes to make it real. We are the evolutionary hunters, clearly the most important people in the world because entrepreneurs are the only source of consistent, positive human evolution. And we always will be.

I thought it was ironic and even kind of funny that an investor called and somebody who actually ... Not an investor and entrepreneur called our office. Someone who actually knows me, knows our content and told the person that he spoke to that he'd love to get on a call with me because he has an opportunity for me to get involved in a startup business. That he would like advisory services on and he would be willing to exchange ownership and he thinks it's a very novel business because he's going to grow it to tens of millions of dollars without having any kind of a team.

And it doesn't even matter what type of business it is. It doesn't matter what type of opportunity it is. I'm not interested because here's what I know about businesses where there's not a team. Here's what I know about businesses where there's not individuals who actually care about the company. They don't do well. They are incredibly challenged. Those businesses will have a hard time growing. Those businesses will have a hard time persisting. They'll have a hard time being successful because growing the team is what literally not only grows the business, but it's what grows us as entrepreneurs, as human beings running the business.

This kind of stuff comes up all the time. I remember a couple of years ago, I was at an advisory board meeting for John Morrow, who is a good friend of mine, owns Copyblogger and just an amazing human. And John was the subject of the advisory meeting and one of the people in the room introduced themselves and he very brashly said, "This is what I do, this is the company I run and I'm going to be the first self made billionaire without a team." And he's significantly younger than I am and has less experience. I didn't say anything to the individual, but I just thought to myself how unfortunate. Really, how sad? Because it sounds like he's talented. It sounds like he knows what he's doing. It sounds like you probably have some good ideas, but he's already handicapped himself at one of the most foundational handicaps you have.

See as entrepreneurs, if we're walking around with the thought in our head, I'm going to do it all myself. We've already limited the potential possibility we see in the world. If we're looking at it through the lens of what can I do? We have limited ourselves like crazy. Can you imagine? Can you imagine Elon Musk saying, "You know what? I'm going to not have a team. I'm going to become the first self made billionaire. I'm going to put people on Mars. I'm going to change the internal combustion engine. Economy of this world, but I'm going to do it without any people." Think about that for just a second. It sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? It's like a joke, like how could you possibly potentially do it?

Well, here's the reality that I've learned after over 20 years of working with entrepreneurs is that growing a team is how we actually become the entrepreneur we want to be. One of the things that I share with entrepreneurs all the time is if you don't have the business you want, you haven't become the person who can run it yet. And if you don't have the business you want, you probably haven't become the person who can lead the team who can run it yet. Because here's the fact about running a team, like running a business. Let's just get real. One, if you're going to be successful, you can't do it all. Now you heard the beginning, right? If you're going to be successful, you can't do it all. If you're going to run a boutique business, a struggling business, a small business, a business that doesn't grow, a business that doesn't make a big impact, then you might be able to do it all. And it's going to be challenging.

And here's what happens. There's actually people out there that will convince you, you can do it all and they will tell you that if you do it all, you will have freedom. You don't have to have the boundaries of a team. You don't have to have the weight of a team. The boat anchor that is a team and you can be free and have all the responsibility yourself. Well, that's just not how it works. If you want freedom, a team and an infrastructure and an organization around you with a clear plan buys you freedom as an entrepreneur. When you have other people accomplishing and achieving and making things move forward and creating momentum on your behalf, that's how you absolutely truly create freedom. We look at examples of entrepreneurs that live in a way that a lot of us want to live like Richard Branson. Kite surfing off of his island and traveling around the world and showing up in events and making a huge impact. But how does he do that? Tens of thousands of people on multiple teams. So you can't do it all.

The second reason why this is so important is you're not going to stop, if you're listening to me. Here's what I assume about you. You can't turn it off. Not only can you not turn it off, you don't really understand why other people want to turn it off and you're not going to stop. So you are going to continue to persist and move forward and create momentum and try, and make a bigger contribution and try, and make bigger things happen and trying to build a bigger business. Get help since you're not going to stop. The way that you persist, the way that you continue to make a bigger impact. The way you continue to make more things happen is you get help. You start building a team and you expand your capability, and this is important because when we as entrepreneurs shift from me doing everything to we, achieve together. We finally step into the strategic leadership role we've always known we were meant to have.

If your brain just said, "No, I didn't." Well let's just think through that. Haven't you always known you're more strategic than the people around you? Haven't you always thought that if you could just have the higher level conversations exclusively. Things would be better. Haven't you always looked at all the details and kind of felt bogged down, but the big picture vision, that big solutions, the big direction, that's where you really want to be. Well, if that's who you are, if you're that strategic type of person, then the way that you put yourself in that role is to build a team around you.

This is crucial. The successful solo-preneur is a fantasy. It doesn't really happen. All kinds of people pretend like they are, but they're struggling like crazy because they're doing it all themselves. So here's what you need to know. Any present constraint creates a future limitation. I'm going to say it again. Any constraint you let into your present, creates a future limitation. So if one of the constraints you're carrying around is I have to do it all myself, that is going to create a massive future limitation. If Elon Musk thought, I'm going to do it all myself, we wouldn't have Tesla and we wouldn't have Space X. There's no way. So any present constraint creates a future limitation. So if you have in your head, I'm going to do that without a team, I'm going to do it without getting help. I'm going to do it without building an organization. You have already dramatically limited anything you will produce in this world.

If you're okay with that, that's okay. But if you're not, then understand that this is a fantasy of doing it all yourself. This is a fantasy of not having help. This is a fantasy of not having a team because the second thing you need to understand is not just any present constraint creates a future limitation. But mutual contribution on a team is how you achieve real momentum. This is what it feels like. Like you get up in the morning and I have this morning every day, right now. I get up in the morning and I know that there are dozens of things being executed that I'm not even seeing or touching. I know that our clients are taken care of and I don't even have to know who they are. I know that our team is creating momentum because we have a plan and we have clarity and we have a system and a structure and things are moving forward fast.

So mutual contribution creates maximum momentum. If you don't have a team, you can't get there. And one last argument, you're not that good. Neither am I. I mean, I'm good at some stuff, but I'm not so good that I can do everything to the level that it needs to be done in a growing organization. Neither are you. You might be able to pass. You might be able to do it okay. But there's just too many different things going on in a growing organization. You can't cross every T, dot every I. Be in every meeting and handle every issue and make everything better. But if you create a team, you'll actually find that there's people who are better than you at what you do. This has happened to me throughout my entire career. I have a saying that I share with my coaching clients all the time. "You are not a unicorn." And if they persist with an argument, sometimes we say, "You're not a freaking unicorn." Because none of us are so special that we can't get help and none of us are so special that what we do is so unique and significant that we can't have somebody else help us do it. None of us.

Think through your mind of every great entrepreneur who's ever made an outcome in the world that you respect, that you're impressed by, that you are inspired by and they did not do it by themselves. The commitment to build a team is what truly creates freedom. The commitment to build a team is what truly creates options and the commitment to build a team is what creates the contribution you've always known you should be making. That's what will get you there. The fantasy of being a successful solo-preneur without help is just that. Don't buy it because not only will it take away your freedom, it will limit your success. Limit your income and what you can actually make in this world.

And let's get real. It will limit the contribution I believe you were put on this planet to make. Don't let anyone sell you on the fantasy of doing it all yourself. It just doesn't make sense. Build a team, create momentum together, contribute together and your life will change, your income and your revenue will change and the world around you will change because you'll make it happen. Being a solo-preneur is a fantasy. Build a team and change the world.

If you'd like some help with building your team, if you'd like some help understanding how to build a team, what the next steps are. If you're overwhelmed by even where to start, reach out to a member of my team. Go to We are helping entrepreneurs around the world get clear on what they want, understand how to build the team, bring in the right people around them and create massive momentum and huge outcomes. You shouldn't wait. Go to Answer a few questions from my team. Sign up for a call and we look forward to connecting with you.

Thank You For Listening!

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With gratitude,


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