The Happy Entrepreneur: 57 Tips and Resources to Make Solo Work FUN!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007 at 1:23pm by Site Administrator

Working alone has its perks: no annoying coworkers, fewer interruptions, and the option to wear fuzzy slippers. Of course, solo work means you’ll miss out on social interaction, entertainment, and networking. Check out these ideas designed to help entrepreneurs make working alone a happy experience.

Toys and Entertainment

Whether they’re fun tools or just a crazy way to conduct business, these resources will have you looking forward to work every day.

  1. Get a pet: Pets make great officemates–they’ll usually sleep all day, but are always up for a quick run in the park or just simple attention.
  2. Pandora Internet Radio: Rock out to your favorite music for a fun distraction.
  3. My Cyber Twin: Make your clients think you’re insane–in a good way. Set up a virtual chat twin that will answer your IMs with zany conversation.
  4. Ta-da List: Banish to-do lists from your life, and adopt a more fun and exciting way to organize: ta-da lists! Keep track of what you’ve got going on and all that you’ve accomplished while approaching them as items that are more fun than responsibility.
  5. Trizoko: Read this blog for business news with a side of fun.
  6. Monkey On Your Back: Harass others into doing your bidding by putting a virtual monkey on their back.
  7. Sing emails to yourself: If you’re the type that reads over your work aloud, why not sing it? It’s weird, but fun.
  8. Keep score: If your work is full of cold calls or responding to repetitive emails, come up with a way to keep records of what you do each day. Challenge yourself to beat your personal best every hour, week, or month.
  9. Trade your chair for a balance ball: Balance balls are good for ergonomics, and let’s face it, it’s hard to take yourself seriously when you spend the day sitting on a huge rubber ball.
  10. Googlism: It’s always important to keep an eye on your online reputation. With Googlism, you can take a funny look at what Google thinks about you and your startup.
  11. The Chief Happiness Officer: Read this blog to find out how to "love your job, love your life, and kick butt at work."
  12. Popularity Dialer: If you know you’ll be stuck in a boring client meeting for hours, sign yourself up for a very important fake phone call that will provide comic relief and a chance to get away for a moment.
  13. Make Fido your assistant: Give yourself the gift of amusement that saves time. Teach your dog to perform simple tasks like fetching a beverage from the refrigerator or grabbing your morning paper.
  14. NoteZilla: Put virtual sticky notes on your desktop with NoteZilla. These notes are really useful, skinnable and just downright fun for organization junkies.
  15. Watch Joost TV: If you’re not easily distracted, keep a small window open for Joost and watch TV all day while you work.
  16. Build an RSS feed library: News doesn’t have to be boring. Build an RSS feed library that’s full of fun blogs that you like to read.
  17. Put a pinball machine in your office: Everyone needs a little diversion at some point. Whether your love is pinball or cheap novels, keep them close at hand for a quick, fun break before getting back to work.

Connections & Feedback

If you’re working alone, it can be hard to objectively judge what you’ve produced. Use these tips and resources to get feedback from an outside source.

  1. Join the Chamber of Commerce: For networking opportunities and a fresh set of business contacts, your local chamber of commerce can prove to be a highly valuable resource.
  2. Join a sports league: Signing up for an adult sports league can be more social than you think. You’ll connect with others on the field, and likely enjoy a round of drinks after the game. You may even find that you’ll score some low cost marketing by supplying the team with jerseys that have your venture’s name on the back.
  3. Enlist friends and family: Your friends and family may represent some of the demographics that you hope to reach in your business, so their opinions are vital. Ask them for their honest take on your work, and you’ll be able to find out what the general public thinks of you.
  4. Take your laptop to the playground: Can you think of a better way to reconnect with fun than to hang out at a playground? Let the excitement of playtime rub off on you and your work, and be sure to take a moment to climb the jungle gym.
  5. Locate a marketing expert: Make friends with a marketing guru, and you’ll have someone who can both shoot the breeze and help you get the word out about your business.
  6. Connect with business owners online: Check out business forums like Idea Cafe to find other business owners online and learn about the way they work.
  7. Create an offbeat job title: Hey, you’re the boss–why not come up with your own job title just for fun? Handing out a business card with the title of Chief Happiness Officer or Marketing Maven is sure to spark an interesting conversation.
  8. Build a support system: Gather a team of advisors to get you through the tough times. It should include friends, mentors, and helpful business contacts. These are the people that can help you with your marketing materials or just take you out for a beer after a hard day.
  9. Party with your clients: Clients are people, too, and they like fun just as much as anyone else. Invite your clients over for a get together or simply offer to take them out for a casual, no-business lunch once in a while.
  10. Work at a coffee shop: Working in a coffee shop will get you out of your usual element and allow you to have fun watching the world go by.
  11. Start a blog: Whether you’re sharing breaking news about your developments at work or just sharing tidbits about daily life, a blog is a great way to have fun with words and get connected with others in your field.
  12. Use Meetup: You can use Meetup to find and get together with others who have similar interests. Find a group of people that work in your same industry, or just meet new people to have lunch with.
  13. Find a mentor: Whether you’re established or just starting out, you can probably use some advice and friendship from a person who’s been there before. Find yourself a mentor to meet with once a month.
  14. Join Toastmasters: Build your speaking skills and meet with others through Toastmasters. This organization will not only teach you to speak better, it will help you communicate more effectively in a friendly environment.
  15. Take up with coworkers: No, not actual coworkers, but other entrepreneurs that share space and ideas in a coworker community setting.

More Fulfilling Work

Work is always more fun when it goes beyond the daily grind. Follow these tips to get more from what you do and enjoy the process.

  1. Do what you love: This one’s simple–if you do what you love, you’ll always have fun at work.
  2. Pretend every day is the day before a vacation: You know that great feeling you get right before vacation when you know the bills are paid, you’ve returned everyone’s call, and every invoice has been sent out? Prioritize your work so that important things like these are taken care of and you feel on top of things.
  3. Make your customers happy: If your customers are happy, chances are you’re going to enjoy your work a whole lot more. With this in mind, do whatever it takes to make sure you’ve got a satisfied customer.
  4. Get something back: If you’re funding your own startup, chances are you’re spending lots of money on supplies, services and more. Consider signing up for a cash back credit card so that you can have fun watching cash back statements come in for money you were going to spend anyway.
  5. Fire problem clients: Although you want to keep clients happy, don’t kill yourself trying to do so. Make your work life easier and more enjoyable by getting rid of clients that will suck the fun out of your business relationship.
  6. Mark anniversaries: Remember and celebrate moments like the day you stepped out on your own, turned your first profit, or launched off your website. These are all little ways to make even a mundane day feel special.
  7. Create boundaries: If you’re passionate about what you’re doing, it can be hard to create boundaries between leisure time and work time. Unfortunately, when lines are blurred in this way, you can overwork yourself and not even realize it. Create a schedule for work time and stick to it. If you have the option to do so, use a home office and promise yourself that it’s exclusively for work.
  8. Give something back: Donate your time, service, or product to a worthwhile cause in your community. You’ll not only feel good about what you’re doing, but also get connected with free marketing, networking, and people who appreciate your efforts.
  9. Let unimportant projects fall: Be a lazy entrepreneur: start lots of small projects, but commit yourself only to the ones that grab you as fun and interesting. You’ll find that the ones that attract you are much more fun and fulfilling to work on.
  10. Celebrate your success: Goal-driven entrepreneurs sometimes have a hard time taking a moment to pat themselves on the back for a job well done. Create a brag list or simply plan small rewards to give to yourself when you’ve accomplished something good.

Relax & Recharge

As an entrepreneur, it’s vital that you work hard, but it’s equally as important that you get some downtime, too. Follow these tips and you’ll have more fun working solo–if only because you’re awake enough to enjoy it.

  1. Power nap: Take a brief afternoon nap to recharge and pretend that you’re playing hooky.
  2. Take a mini-vacation: If taking off for two weeks could prove fatal to your business, consider getting away on a mini vacation of 3 or 4 days. It’s just long enough to disconnect, but short enough that clients won’t get ticked off.
  3. Laugh: Laughter is fun, plain and simple. So make an effort to laugh at work every day. Whether it’s a ridiculous email from a client or a funny video on YouTube, take a moment to loosen up and smile.
  4. Learn office jargon: Find out some of the ridiculous things office workers are saying, and you’re sure to get a laugh. Bonus points if you’ve ever been confused by one of your corporate clients who used one of them.
  5. Earn travel from your work: Make all of your business spending add up to something fun by using a travel rewards card. With this sort of credit card, you can earn a free vacation while making purchases that are necessary for your business.
  6. Schedule playtime first: Build your schedule around what you really want to do, and you’ll always have time for the fun stuff.
  7. Perk up with coffee: Most entrepreneurs already know this, but a healthy dose of morning caffeine can give you the boost you need to have an enjoyable and productive work day. It’s loaded with health benefits, too.
  8. Exercise: Take a spin around the block and say hi to your neighbors, or hit the gym with a friend. Either way, you’ll give yourself more energy and a chance to get out and connect with others.
  9. Stretch your brain: If you’ve been working hard all day, your brain is probably burnt out. Give it a chance to exercise itself in a new way. Read a book, learn a language, or just play a game of solitaire.
  10. "Relaxify" your workspace: Feel good in your workspace by making it more attractive and functional. In a revitalized space, you’ll be more relaxed and positive.
  11. The four-day week: Challenge yourself to get more done in less time, and force yourself to take a break every week by simply cutting out Fridays.
  12. Enjoy a tasty adult beverage: For most responsible adults, enjoying an alcoholic drink during the work day can help you unwind, find the humor in your work, and maybe even get your creative juices flowing.
  13. Stay healthy: If you’re not feeling well, you’re probably not going to have a lot of fun and happiness anywhere, much less while you’re working. Commit to health, and better enjoy life at work and beyond.
  14. Take a joy break: For 10 minutes or so, promise yourself to do something brief, but enjoyable. Whether it’s gathering flowers from your garden or an impromptu dance session with your dog, take a moment to do something fun in the middle of your work day.
  15. Enjoy procrastination: Procrastination isn’t evil. In fact, in can be fun, unless you spend all of your procrastination time thinking about the work you’re avoiding. Throw yourself whole-heartedly into putting off work in the name of fun and you’ll be better prepared to jump back into work when you’re ready to do it.

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  1. i loved your list. great stuff…

    Comment by adam lehman — October 9, 2007 @ 8:34 pm

  2. Adam,

    Great list. I already do a few of the items you listed. Freelancing here in Michigan is pretty tough, and articles/lists such as this one are great. Keep up the good work.

    Bruce Agababian
    BHA Design Inc.

    Comment by Bruce Agababian — December 10, 2007 @ 6:37 pm

  3. Opps…sorry Jessica. I was loking at Adams name when I wrote this.

    Comment by Bruce Agababian — December 10, 2007 @ 6:38 pm

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