Stay safe when you are out and about solo

by Michele on August 2, 2013

Stay safe when you travel alone as a solopreneur

Most of the time, I focus strictly on business strategy.  Sometimes though, I like to write about topics that are not strictly business but are related to having a solopreneur business.  Here’s one topic I feel strongly about: Staying safe when I’m out and about as a solopreneur.  Some of this article is targeted to women.

By definition, solopreneurs work alone a lot of the time.  Many of us work a lot from home, but if you go to events such as training or networking you probably travel some by yourself and it’s important to keep yourself safe when you do so.

I feel particularly strong about this because I see too many women who don’t take the safety precautions they should.  Sometimes it’s because they don’t know any better, but a lot of times it’s because they don’t want to be perceived as weak or fearful.  I get that it’s not good to be perceived as weak or fearful when you are asking people to be your customer, but this is not a sound reason to risk your safety.  Staying safe in your surroundings is a totally separate issue from being a competent and trustworthy business owner.  Anyone who wouldn’t patronize my business because I take my safety seriously is not someone I want as a customer.

I’m pretty assertive naturally, and being raised as the only girl with 3 boys didn’t make me any more timid.  I’ve also been a weightlifter since high school, and I’m strong for my size.  People are often surprised when I’m the first to speak up and the most cautious in questionable situations.  However, I think my assertiveness and physical strength give me the freedom to do whatever I need to do to be safe without fear of looking weak or fragile.

I’m not an expert on safety, but here’s a few things I do as much as possible when I’m out alone, especially at night.

  • Always stay alert.  Watch who and what is going on around you.  Pay attention if you are using your cell phone – everyone knows you are distracted and would make an easier target.  
  • Don’t ever be afraid to offend someone if you get a bad feeling about them.  I’ve opted not to board an elevator when I would have been riding alone with someone I felt weird about.  Yes, it may have offended the other person but that’s okay.
  • Lock you car door right after you get in.  It’s common to get into the car and stow your belongings, adjust your seat, etc. before locking up and leaving.
  • Find someone trustworthy to walk to a deserted parking lot with.  I’ve asked for this lots of times and people are more than happy to help.  If there’s nobody official around, I make it a point to leave with a group.
  • Make it harder to steal your purse, wallet, laptop, etc.  Carry a bag that closes completely (no open-top tote bags or purses), keep a hand on your bag while out in a crowd, and be conscious of how you carry these things.

Don’t ever apologize for taking your safety seriously.  What do you do to keep yourself safe when you are out?

Comments

  1. Mozette says:

    I travel alone everywhere by public transport and this makes travel very dangerous for me in particular as I’m a short person who looks like a push-over. I’m only 5ft tall and rather delicate in built… but for what I don’t make up for in my height and stature, I do have a very foul mouth on me and know how to use it in the right situations; and loud enough that people around me will hear me.

    But when I’m walking alone, walking through car parks, I’m not worried about cars getting in my way (or me in their way) but I’m constantly listening for other footsteps around me. I know that makes me sound paranoid, but really if I hear somebody around me I begin to look around as though I’ve lost my car (even though I haven’t got one).
    Recently though, I’ve had access to a car – my Mum’s – and so getting to her car has been a challenge when all I want to do is get in it and drive away. But when I’m walking to it, I don’t hang onto the keys and make it obvious I’ve got a car, I pull them out when I get to it and unlock it when I get to the car, get in and lock it. Then, I fiddle and fart around with putting things away.

    I’m always thinking of the worse case scenario. Being a writer I see the worse in people… now that just sounds terrible when I write it like that, but honestly I do! Every single one of us – whether we’re normally good in public – have a bad streak in us; and it may take a bad day to set us off. Then, there’s people out there who are just awful right through and that’s their personality… which I’m hoping to keep well clear of.
    But I’m one of those who, if somebody thinks they can step on me, I often tell them politely to think twice before insulting me again. I tell them that quietly, calmly and this assures the fact they will certainly try to get to me. More often than not, people either get a taste of my bad temper or I just shake my head and walk away because they’re pushing me on purpose.

    But staying safe is a matter of knowing yourself. I have had people try to stare me down, follow me to my car and I even caught one guy trying to break into my car once – years ago – when I opened the boot, put something in it, slammed it shut and he looked around at me and I asked if I could help him. That was when he ran and I screamed out: ‘Car thief!’ loud enough that the police (who were trolling around the car park looking for him) showed up fast… he ended up being a very dangerous guy who was looking at getting away from them in a car; mine. He fortunately didn’t succeed, and ran away. I was so very lucky he didn’t lash out. I just didn’t show any fear… and that’s what I find is a lot of people’s downfall… showing we’re scared and instead of digging our heels in and fighting.

    Then again, I think that may be because I’ve had to fight my way through bullying most of my life to get where I am today.

    1. Michele says:

      Mozette, I loved your comment about having a foul mouth and knowing how to use it! Way to go! There’s a time and a place to be sweet and eloquent, and it’s not when somebody bad is nearby. You offer some good suggestions, and you don’t sound paranoid or negative to me. The reality is that there are some bad apples out there, and taking steps toward your own safety doesn’t mean there aren’t good people too.

  2. Dawn Mentzer says:

    Another wonderful post, Michele! It’s something all women solopreneurs need to stay conscious of no matter where they are.

    And we have yet something more in common! I’ve lifted weights for years…even did some competitive bodybuilding in past years. (Another interesting tidbit…my father-in-law’s cousins are Mike Mentzer and Ray Mentzer of bodybuilding fame. With pumping iron in your background, I’m guessing you probably heard of those guys!)

    1. Michele says:

      That is too funny Dawn! I wanted to compete in bodybuilding in my early years but could never get lean enough – you must have a lot of determination! I did do a little competitive power lifting, but had only been training for a year or so at that point so my totals weren’t very impressive. Of course I know of Mike Mentzer and Ray Mentzer! I read all the magazines for years and they were huge. I never put the name together with yours, what a funny connection.

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