Changes in the world of work mean that many more people will be self-employed, working as freelancers, or as entrepreneurs. And besides, many people choose this path to have more freedom and flexibility at work. But success for the solopreneur requires a more complex mindset than working for someone else. Let’s look at three of the most important paradoxical strengths that drive self-employment success.

What is a paradoxical strength? It is a balanced combination of strengths that are seemingly opposites. Let’s see how this works with some examples.

Risking and Analyzing Pitfalls

Starting your own business or working for yourself feels riskier than working for an employer because your income is likely to be less predictable and more variable. So, you must be willing to take these risks in return for the rewards of the autonomy and flexibility of working for yourself.

But if you are someone who enjoys the thrill of risk, but doesn’t take the time to analyse what can go wrong, you could be putting yourself in an insecure situation. As a business owner, you must also be willing to look at the potential downside and create contingency plans that would prevent financial disaster for you and your family.

On the other hand, people who are really good at analysing pitfalls, looking closely at all the things that could go wrong, are often too cautious to go into business at all. Both traits are needed. Which one do you have? Which are you missing?

By the way, I am naturally low in both of these traits, and I have been working for myself for almost 25 years. There are ways to work around it. For someone like me, the next combination of traits is invaluable.

Confidence and Humility

Self-confidence in business is extremely valuable because it is a primary driver of sales, and sales is the life blood of business. When you are confident in your service or product, you can convince your clients to buy. Your confidence supports a positive outlook that allows you to meet the needs of your customers.

But what is the result when you have confidence without humility? That is arrogance. It can drive customers away, sometimes unconsciously… they just don’t like the way you come across. And even worse, it can blind you to what you really need in your business.

Humility means you are open to reflecting on alternate solutions, on the value of your competition, on the changing needs of the marketplace. And it means you are open to improving your products and services, or gaining value from the support and opinions of other people.

When you have both confidence and humility, you have a kind of grounded confidence that is much more attractive than arrogant confidence or inconclusive openness.

Self-motivation and Relaxation

Obviously, to be self-employed you need to be self-motivated. You need to like taking initiative and moving through challenges. You need enthusiasm for your business goals to get you bounding out of bed in the morning. And there are limits to how far raw self-motivation will get you.

Everyone has different limits but everyone has a limit. If you don’t know how to relax, there will come a time that your stress threatens your business results. First, lack of relaxation creates a risk to your health, your family and the meaningfulness of your life. And moreover, when you do nothing but work on your business. you lose perspective on your business and you are likely to miss the clues that warn you of changes that are needed. You won’t notice that you are being arrogant or overly cautious, or any one of a number of strengths that can be overused to the detriment of your business.

Contrary to what it may feel like to a new business owner, relaxation doesn’t take a lot of time. Short breaks that suit your particular preferences are an excellent way to power up your business results.

What can you do about it?

1) Know your tendencies

The easiest insurance you can get against these business pitfalls is self-awareness. The assessment tool I use provides a clear analysis for 12 paradoxical traits needed for success at work, plus scores for over 100 other traits. By knowing your own tendencies, you can check yourself before you fall too far into unconscious patterns.

When you know yourself, you can create your own solutions for balancing your paradoxical traits. A complementary business partner, business structures or habits that keep you in line, or a coaching program to build strength in a trait are three examples.

2) Upgrade your beliefs

When you know which important traits you are devaluing, you can often upgrade those beliefs to change your whole experience of them. I have seen some people make massive changes in their effectiveness simply by changing their beliefs. It can be a very fast process if you know how.

3) Check yourself daily

Businesses are built on the foundation of daily personal practices. Whether you plan your day every morning, take a reflective walk at lunch, or set a mindfulness timer throughout the day, by checking yourself, you give yourself a chance to stop overusing your strengths and get back into balance.

Short Term Special Offer

This month, we are offering a 10% discount on our Solopreneur’s Assessment and Coaching Package.

Self-Employment Success Package:

Get insight into your strengths and weaknesses at work and how they affect your chances of success. Identify the most important paradoxes that drive you. Upgrade your belief system to immediately improve your comfort and success. Brainstorm and implement new customized systems that support your business success.

The package includes:

  • Your Paradox Graph showing 24 paradoxical success traits
  • Your score on over 100 different traits and preferences as they relate to your chosen job function.
  • One hour telephone coaching session

Cost: HK$3300
Special Price: HK$2970
Valid until: May 31, 2017





Angela Spaxman
Angela Spaxman
Career and Leadership Coach , Loving Your Work

Angela Spaxman is one of Hong Kong’s leading experts in professional coaching. She is a highly effective and experienced executive coach, career coach, corporate facilitator and trainer. Angela’s leadership experiences, her decades of personal development, her well-grounded confidence and her natural curiosity give her great insight into how to manage, motivate and lead people to be at their best.