Road blocks, solopreneur’s worst nightmare

Show stoppers, roadblocks, technical difficulties.
These phareses are frightening even when working in a team. But when facing it alone? Deadly. How to avoid or at least mitigate the risk? I show how planning and re-planning might help:

1. Planning well ahead

It is easier said than done. First, people tend to skip planning at all.

If do plan than focusing on best case scenarios, only. Life is short, planning time is shorter so lets focus on what can we achieve right?

Khm, may be not.

The core problem is that a huge rock looks like small pebble when far away. By the time we got there it is blocking the whole view.  To avoid these situations you should think not only how to do things but what can go wrong. Check different angles, rely on past experiences. Do some research and learn from other people’s mistakes.

If you’ve been following my advice of getting into the habit of

Plan Do Check Act

during this month by now you might realize, that it isn’t that hard.


This morning I was cutting trees. I inherited three large cherry tree, around 6-7 m (20 ft) tall each. I wanted to cut one because it was almost dead, and trim the other two to manageable size. Being a chemistry major, chainsaw is not my first choice of weapon.  So it took me about three weeks to get to the work. During that time I spent quite some time planning how I will approach the subject to:

  • avoid destroing my mother-in-low newly built fence (very risky)
  • not to fall off the ladder
  • not to cut any body parts w/chainsaw
  • finish it in couple of hours

It all went fine, the first tree came down in four pieces without any hassle as planned. But when I climbed up to the top of the second one for trimming (which actually meant to cut it into half), I realized that it will not work.

Being an inexperienced lumberjack, I did not see from the ground that if I do the cut as planned I will end up smashed by the tree. So I had to climb down rearrange my ladder to a different settings and up again.  Cut, splash, huh, survived.

The take away? Be ready to adjust your plans any time, run the PDCA cycle as much as needed.

p.s.: I know I could hire somebody to do it for me, but I need some exercise and it is a lot of fun.


2. Detour

When planning ahead does not work (or did not happen) and difficulty arises, try one of these:

Work more and harder, sometimes it helps (did not work out even for Boxer in Animal Farm),.

Renegotiate deadline: instead of avoiding the calls from your customer, be open and discus the situation, even if it is your fault. You will be surprised to see that she/he wants to help you get it finished.

Adjust scope: it might be possible to finish less by the same deadline without hurting the project badly. The key here again is open communication with your customer.

Get some help: depends on the problem at hand, but getting freelance help can help you out. Or you can reach out to your community and get surprised.

What are your tactics to avoid these situations?


This post is featured on First Friday Link Party for Writers – Beautiful Spring Edition hosted by Carol Tice (@TiceWrites).