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Most sole traders wish they had more support – here’s how to get it

One is the loneliest number – but it doesn’t have to be. Building your support networks when you’re a solopreneur is a boon for business and your mental health.

Australia is a nation of self-starters, with ‘solopreneurs’ accounting for a whopping 62.8 per cent of our country’s small businesses.

We have an unquenchable thirst to pave our own way. Yet going it alone has its challenges, with business owners telling us that one of their biggest obstacles is the lack of support available. If that’s you, read on to find out how to build the network you need to thrive.

Forging your own path

To find out what drives solopreneurs, Xero surveyed 814 current sole traders and 201 aspiring ones between December 2020 and January 2021. Our goal? To uncover the tipping point that convinced them to go it alone.

It turns out that almost half of the respondents (43 per cent) had always dreamed of being their own boss one day. And, among them, 23 per cent had maintained this desire ever since childhood.


There’s certainly a lot to love about being a sole trader – being a team of one, you’re uniquely positioned to choose how/when/where you operate, and who you work with.

In fact, wanting to be in control of their own timetable was a key driver for 63 per cent of respondents, while the freedom to make their own decisions was a top motivator for 47 per cent.


Support for sole traders

The flip side, of course, is that you’re in it alone and having the responsibility for doing everything – right from the initial planning through to managing customers – can prove challenging, especially when wanting to stay organised and on track.

Indeed, the Xero survey found that almost 80 percent of aspiring sole traders wish they had more support in getting started, and half of existing sole traders wish they had more support in running their business.

The good news is there’s lots of practical and mental health support on offer for small business owners – and for sole traders specifically. Go ahead and check out organisations like Heads Up and the resources at Xero central, as well as my tips below.

Make the most of government resources

The Australian government has a heap of helpful resources to support business owners, including access to free and/or subsidised professional advice from an advisor.

These links are a great place to start:

 Tap into small business networks

When it comes to networking events, I suggest initially casting the net wide, and then narrowing it down to the events that meet your specific needs.

Different things will work for different people – for example, you might be looking to connect with like-minded folks for advice and support, or completely different types to spur innovation and new ideas.

Attend a couple of networking events run by the government, check out one-off get-togethers and skills workshops from sites like Eventbrite and Meetup, and see what ticks your boxes.

You can also join free and paid small business associations and networks, such as the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Council of Small Business Organisations Australia.

soul trader

Find the right advisor

The right accountant or bookkeeper will support you every step of the way, from fine-tuning your business model and nailing down your competitive advantage to chasing invoices.

Search Xero’s advisor directory to find accountants or bookkeepers near you, then use our new match-making tool to narrow down the field based on industry, maturity and growth expertise.

Implement good tech systems

Like working closely with an advisor, a good tech system will help to make sure your business processes are top-notch, so you’re not trying to cut through red tape and re-engineer the back end once demand picks up.

Streamlining, automating and linking your systems and processes – for example, through cloud accounting software and apps that support inventory and invoicing – also takes time consuming admin  off your plate, and better prepares you for growth later on.

Along with the joys of working for yourself also come challenges. Despite having the freedom to run your business your way, needing to manage every step can result in considerable pressure. Luckily, there is plenty of support to be found in tapping into small business networks, accessing government resources, and seeking professional advice (which doesn’t need to be costly).

Going solo doesn’t mean you have to do it all alone – there are many places you can find your community as a sole trader.


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