In the dynamic world of business, a new term has emerged, “Solopreneur.”
As the workplace has undergone certain transformations such as hybrid working and a “hustle” mentality in recent years, solo entrepreneur businesses have been skyrocketing in popularity.
If you’re looking to understand what a solopreneur is or if you want to learn how to be a solopreneur, then you’re in the right place. As a Solopreneur myself, I’m in the perfect position to guide you through it, so let’s get started.
What is a Solopreneur?
A solopreneur is a person who creates a business in which they are the sole employee.
This one person shoulders all of the responsibilities in their business without any other employees or assistance. While this might initially sound similar to an entrepreneur, there are distinctive differences that set solopreneurs apart.
Before we get into the details of how you can get started as a solopreneur, let’s have a look at the key differences between other ways that you can start your business.
Solopreneurs Vs. Entrepreneurs
Solopreneurs and entrepreneurs share similarities, yet they have different approaches to business:
- Independence: Solopreneurs handle all aspects of their business independently, occasionally collaborating with freelancers, whereas entrepreneurs delegate responsibilities to a team.
- Focus: Entrepreneurs aim for business growth and may eventually sell their venture whereas solopreneurs prioritize self-sustaining businesses that provide personal fulfillment without a specific exit strategy.
- Financial Risk: Entrepreneurs must address various financial concerns that Solopreneurs don’t have to, including payroll, benefits, and taxes, which can be intricate.
Solopreneur Vs. Freelancer
There is a grey area between freelancers and solopreneurs. Some view freelancers as individuals who transition into solopreneurs as their business grows beyond a small client base.
However, to me, the essence of a solopreneur is an individual running their business without outside assistance, meaning that freelancers who manage their operations independently can be considered solopreneurs.
Pros and Cons Of Solopreneurship
While everyone’s experience of solopreneurship will be different, here’s my experience of the pros and cons of being a solopreneur.
|Financial Risk||– Low financial risk due to no employee payroll|
– Greater share of earnings
|– Sole responsibility for all expenses|
|Control Over Business||– High level of control over business|
– Flexibility to set working hours and environment
|– No external partners or investors to collaborate|
|Stress Levels||– High-stress levels due to sole responsibility|
– Difficulty in taking time off
|– High stress levels due to sole responsibility|
– Difficulty in taking time off
|Loneliness||– Loneliness from lack of office camaraderie|
While there are plenty of pros and cons to becoming a solopreneur, I wholeheartedly recommend it. From being fully in control of your time to having a much lower bottom line to make the business profitable, solopreneurship is the most flexible way to make money.
How To Succeed As a Solopreneur
If you’re looking to understand how to become a solopreneur, then you’re in the right place. After starting multiple solo businesses, I’m going to share with you my 8 tips for succeeding as a solopreneur.
If you are considering starting your own business, I’d recommend following my 40-point checklist for launching your product which goes into even more detail about launching a product than I can in this article.
Tip 1: Find Your Business Idea
Your journey as a solopreneur begins with a business idea. But not just any idea, a great one.
When looking for a business idea, I make sure:
- I can actually build the product (i.e. I have the right skill set)
- There is demand for the product (check out my guide to finding a target audience if you’d like to learn more)
- There aren’t too many established competitors
If all of these things are in order, then you’re ready to move on to step to.
Hold on if you’re thinking about skipping this step though!
When I started my first business as a solopreneur, an uptime monitoring solution called Status Hive, I made the mistake of rushing straight into building an MVP for my product rather than validating that there was an audience and analysing my competitors. This was a huge mistake!
After months of work on the product, I found that no one showed interest in my product. The market was already saturated with competitors offering similar services at significantly lower prices. The potential customers that I did reach out to told me that they would only buy this service from an established brand, which my business was obviously not.
This experience taught me, and hopefully you a vital lesson: thorough market and customer research is vital to helping your business succeed.
Tip 2: Build Your Brand
From my experience, a solid brand is the second most important part of your business.
It essentially acts as free advertising and a motivator for potential customers to trust your business. People who recognise your brand logo and colors will immediately trust your brand more and be more likely to purchase from you. As customers need to see your brand an average of 7 times before they purchase, you need to make sure that your branding is strong so that it stays in your customer’s heads.
While it may seem like an expense at first, unless you’ve got an eye for design, I’d recommend hiring a great graphic designer to help you get your branding and logo started from the get-go.
Tip 3: Iterate
This might just be me being influenced by my software engineering background, but I think the best way to build a business and grow as a solopreneur is to analyze, learn from your mistakes and iterate so that you and your business gradually get better.
When starting a business, every few months I ask myself questions such as:
- What’s working well?
- What needs improvement?
- Is my pricing suitable for clients?
- Am I making enough income?
- Am I on budget?
- Is my business sustainable?
I’ve found that this analysis really helps to identify areas for personal and business growth.
Tip 4: Look Out For New Opportunities
An important part of being an entrepreneur, and especially a solopreneur is to be open to change. Markets shift, competitors evolve and your focus may change, so it’s important to be flexible and be able to adapt to ensure your long-term business success.
Tip 5: Automate 🤖
While I would recommend that every business owner look into how they can automate tasks, for solopreneurs it’s so much more important.
As you’re the only person who’s going to be looking after your business, you need to have as many useful automations in place as possible so that you can focus on the important stuff. Otherwise, you’ll spend so much time working on mundane tasks that either your business won’t grow or you’ll work for way longer than you would in a normal 9 to 5 and burn yourself out.
In my startups, I normally look to automate the following tasks:
- Most of my sales pipeline
- Bookkeeping tasks
- Appointment scheduling
- Customer support responses
Obviously, there are loads of other things that you can automate, so make sure to have a look at the tasks you’re working on a lot and find ways to hand them off.
Tip 6: Take Time Off
Just because you work for yourself now, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take time off. It’s incredibly important that you maintain a healthy work/life balance by setting strict working hours, spending time outdoors, and engaging in activities outside of work.
From my experience, balance ensures that you come back to your business refreshed, meaning that you end up getting more done after taking time off. I know this can be especially hard in the beginning, it was for me, but it’s definitely worth it to ensure the long-term success of your business.
Tip 7: Network
Connecting with other solopreneurs has been a great experience for me, as you’re able to interact with others who understand the unique challenges of solo business ownership.
Networking with fellow solopreneurs provides support, potential collaboration, and growth opportunities, which are all incredibly important, so make sure that you engage in both in-person and online networking to build a supportive community.
Tip 8: Don’t Be a Completely Solo-Solopreneur
As a solopreneur, you don’t have to handle every aspect of your business alone. If you’re struggling with a specific task, then it would probably be better to seek outside help from freelancers or other entrepreneurs that you met through networking.
Solopreneur Business Ideas
While in theory you can start any business as a solopreneur, in reality, it’s important to remember that your idea must match your capacity. As a solopreneur, you’ve only got so much time to be able to spend building a product, so you need to keep it simple (at least to start with) so that you can get your product launched and in front of customers.
To help you get started, I’ve created a list of 4 solopreneur business ideas that you can get started with:
- Start an E-commerce Business: E-commerce businesses excel in the solopreneur realm as they don’t need physical locations and any staff. A practice like dropshipping, which involves not keeping goods in stock, allows solopreneurs to streamline their operations – check out how to launch an Amazon product here.
- Freelancing: Freelancers work in roles like writing, graphic design, music composition, and more, offering their services intermittently to businesses. While freelancing may not be the end goal if you’re wanting to work for yourself, it can be a great way to get into solopreneurship.
- Consulting and Coaching: If you’re an expert in a specific field, consider offering consulting or coaching services to help businesses make informed decisions based on your experience and knowledge.
- Passive Income: Explore avenues to generate passive income, such as investments, royalties, or creating automated revenue streams through activities like app development, stock photo sales, or on-demand printing shops.
If you’re looking to develop one of these bases into a fully-fledged business idea, or are looking to come up with a completely separate idea, check out my ultimate guide to creating a business idea here.
It’s important to see people who have made it as a Solopreneur, so below I’ve listed a handful of solopreneurs who have made it in different areas of the business world.
Freelancer – Charles Miller
Beginning his career as a freelance writer, Charles Miller initially focused on assisting brands in conveying their expertise and establishing consumer trust through influential content.
As time went on, he recognized the opportunity to craft a lifestyle of independence by aiding individuals in constructing million-dollar personal brands on social media.
In addition to providing one-on-one consultations, Charles extends his expertise through a writing and personal branding course.
Content Creator – Justin Welsh
Justin Welsh is a renowned solopreneur who has made a significant impact in the world of content creation. With a remarkable journey that began as a content creator, Justin has evolved into a true champion of solopreneurship.
His accomplishments include:
- Having over 162 million impressions on LinkedIn
- Generated over $4 million in revenue with a 94% margin
- Written over 2.4K of unique content
- Has a following of over 750k
- Solopreneur Definition / Solo Entrepreneur Definition: A solopreneur is an individual who creates and operates a business in which they are the sole employee, taking on all responsibilities independently.
- Solopreneurs differ from entrepreneurs in that they prioritize self-sustaining businesses over rapid growth, and they don’t have a specific exit strategy. Solopreneurs may overlap with freelancers who manage their operations independently.
- Solopreneurs enjoy low financial risk, control over their business, and flexibility in working hours and environment. However, they can also face high stress levels and loneliness.
- If you’re thinking of becoming a solopreneur, I’d advise that you: find a viable business idea, build a strong brand, iterate, stay open to new opportunities, automate mundane tasks, take time off for work-life balance, network with fellow solopreneurs, and seek outside help when needed.
If you’re feeling inspired about solo entrepreneurship, then I’d recommend that you find out how to come up with a great startup idea, explore how you can validate your new business idea and see how the stair-step method can help you to own your own time and start your solo entrepreneur lifestyle.