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How to Become a Successful Solopreneur and Thrive

How to Become a Successful Solopreneur and Thrive

The term “solopreneur”, while not new, has gained popularity lately as a way to describe the growing number of “solo entrepreneurs” out there today. And even though there is a lot of overlap between an entrepreneur and a solopreneur, there are subtle distinctions to be made between the two.

In this article, you will learn about the differences between a solopreneur and an entrepreneur. You will also learn how to become a successful solopreneur and thrive.

Solopreneurs vs Entrepreneurs

The Differences

Solopreneurs place a high value on control. By definition, a solopreneur is a one person operation.

By contrast, an entrepreneur is building a team of people who specialize in specific areas of the business. Think sales, accounting, customer service etc.

A solopreneur, on the other hand, is responsible for every aspect of the business. Now, that doesn’t mean that they don’t have help, but more on that later.

Because solopreneurs by nature work alone, most tend to be introverts. If you need a group dynamic in order to get your creative juices flowing or to stay productive, solopreneurship might not be for you.

And because solopreneurs don’t have employees that work specified hours, they can generally set their own schedule. This can be a double edged sword. It gives the solopreneur the flexibility to take time off as needed, but without self motivation, the business won’t survive.

The Similarities

Both solopreneurs and entrepreneurs build real businesses. Sometimes people think of the solopreneur as someone with a lucrative hobby or someone who has “created a job for themselves”. And while this may be true for some, the vast majority of solopreneurs are building real businesses that provide a continuous flow of recurring income that builds wealth.

Both strive to build businesses that can be sustained on their own and require minimal oversight to maintain. Both solopreneurs and entrepreneurs are building businesses that can be sustainable with minimal oversight. The entrepreneur does this by putting a management team in place so that the company runs efficiently in their absence. The solopreneur uses systems of automation to achieve the same result.

All successful businesses must start with a founder who has a clear vision of what they want to accomplish. So both solopreneurs and entrepreneurs set long term goals and short term goals that are clearly defined and measurable in order to track their success.

Both are also self-determined. Self determination is the concept that your reward (or income) is directly proportional to the effort you put in. In other words, as an employee, if you make a sale that generates $1,000,000 for the company, you only get a small percentage of that as a commission. But as a solopreneur you get the entire amount.

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The Benefits of Solopreneurship

There are a myriad reasons that people become solopreneurs. The desire to become your own boss, dissatisfaction with current employment, flexible work schedule, more family/vacation time and of course a much higher income potential. But there are some other, not so obvious benefits to becoming a solopreneur that include:

Expand Your Skill Sets

Because you are responsible for all aspects of your business, it forces you to tackle all the problems that will inevitably arise in every area.

Not so good at maintaining a website? Don’t worry, it will eventually go down forcing you to figure out how to fix it.

Not good at sales or public speaking? You will be as soon as your income depends on it.

But don’t worry, after a while, all solopreneurs get used to these things and pretty soon you’ll be taking them as they come.

Can Work on the Most Important Parts of Your Business

As an employee, you are forced to endure a lot of things that are completely (un) or even counterproductive to the mission of the company. Think about how many useless meetings you’ve had to sit through, or how many reports you had to make or paperwork you had to fill out that was completely unproductive. That is a ton of non productive activities that you are required to perform.

As a solopreneur, you are freed from all that frivolous CYA paperwork and you can concentrate on the most productive parts of your business.

Can “Turn on a Dime”

In today’s fast paced world, being able to adapt to changing market conditions is the key to building a successful business. As a solopreneur, you have the ultimate flexibility in this area. With no investors, shareholders, board members or even employees, you can adjust your strategies and implement them very quickly.

Control the Brand

As a solopreneur, you are the brand. You are the one responsible for your public identity. This also means that it’s up to you to promote your brand identity to the public.

Make What You’re Worth

Few people in corporate America think that they are actually getting paid what they are worth, while this may or may not be true.

As a solopreneur, your compensation is directly related to your efforts. There are truly no limits on the income of a solopreneur.

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More Job Satisfaction Than the Average Worker

In a recent survey, just barely over half of the U.S. population (51%) reported that they were satisfied with their jobs.[1] Conversely, over 80% of solopreneurs reported job satisfaction with 76% planning on remaining in their careers in the future.[2]

A Sense of Accomplishment You Can’t Get Anywhere Else

Have you ever taken on a big project that made you feel overwhelmed at times? That made you think that you bit off a little more than you could chew?

Maybe it was that hike in the Grand Canyon that turned out to be more than you bargained for. Or maybe it was deciding that you were going to paint your house instead of paying someone else to do it? Whatever it was, think about the pride of accomplishment you felt when you pushed through and finished the project. That feeling is what motivates the solopreneur to succeed.

Able to Work from Anywhere

Because of the internet, you no longer have to rent, stock and maintain a physical storefront. Literally everything you need to do in order to sell a product or service can be done over the internet. And if you are selling information or software products, those can be delivered immediately via download.

Types of Businesses That Are Best for the Solopreneur

Obviously not all types of businesses are suited for a solopreneur. If you want to actually manufacture a product, you still need to have a physical building with machines and employees in order to produce that product. But there are a lot of internet based businesses that are perfect for the solopreneur.

Virtual Assistant

A virtual assistant is someone who helps others with (mostly) mundane tasks like sorting and answering email, scheduling appointments and social media management. These are all activities that take a significant amount of time and people will gladly pay others to do.

Blogger

This is one of the most popular ways people become solopreneurs. Start by picking a subject (or niche) that you already have an interest in and start creating content around that subject. Then, become involved in groups that share a similar interest and contribute.

This combination of creating quality content and networking with others will grow the audience for your blog. Once you develop an audience, you can monetize it by selling ads and or using affiliate marketing.

Ebook Author

If writing is your thing, becoming an Ebook author may be right up your alley. We all know how hard it is for a first time writer to get published. Lucky for you the internet has made it possible for almost anyone to get published.

By writing books in electronic form, you’ll have no publishing costs. And since you are selling the book yourself, you get to keep 100% of the profits. And yes, you can even sell your book on Amazon (although they will take a percentage of the sales price).

Graphic Designer

If the visual arts are more your thing, becoming a freelance graphic designer may be for you. Graphic designers help companies design logos and other visual content to help promote a company’s identity and brand.

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Life Coach

Are you a people person? Then becoming a life coach is something to consider. You will work with individuals helping them with things like budgeting and finance, organization and even family and personal relationships. This can all be done using email, Skype or even over the phone.

We’ve only gone over a very few of the businesses that are suited for the solopreneur. There are a lot more you could choose from. Things like podcaster, event planner, tutor, handyman, travel consultant and many more. Your possibilities are almost limitless.

How to Succeed as a Solopreneur

Becoming a solopreneur can be exciting, rewarding and lucrative. But it’s also a lot of work. Sometimes, people become overwhelmed at the thought of doing everything themselves. So here are some tips you can use to lessen the burden and become a successful solopreneur.

1. Have a Solid Plan

Just like any business, it’s important that you set goals both long and short term so that you can measure your progress. To that end, you should develop a mission statement and a vision statement that you can refer to down the road.

Your plan should include four components

  • How will you grow your business?
  • How are you planning for that growth?
  • How do you plan to create passive income?
  • Will you be expanding by adding additional products or services?

If you can map out where you want to be, you’ll have a much easier time getting there.

2. You Don’t Have to Go It Alone

One of the most intimidating things about becoming a solopreneur is the amount of work involved. After all, if you’re in charge of sales, marketing, customer service, accounting, advertizing, branding, social media and more, it quickly becomes overwhelming.

But here’s the good news, you don’t have to go it alone. There are a ton of other solopreneurs out there willing to take on the tasks that you can’t or just don’t want to do. These people specialize in services like website development, email marketing, copywriting, accounting, graphic design, social media management, and a lot more. By using these other solopreneurs, it will free you up concentrate on the most productive areas of your business.

Remember in the beginning when I said that, just because a solopreneur doesn’t have employees, it doesn’t mean that they don’t have help? This is what I mean. You can get all the benefits of an employee without all of the headaches by using freelancers and only paying for the work you need.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to “Pivot”

All too often we get a vision in our head of how things need to go or what they should be like. But the world doesn’t really work that way. Circumstances change, markets change and customer’s taste’s change.

Be willing to adjust your priorities, goals and even your vision of the company to correspond with these changes. After all, this is one area where you, as a solopreneur have a huge advantage over your larger competitors.

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4. Don’t Be in Competition With Anyone but Yourself

Trying to compare yourself to others is always a losing game.

First of all, you will always be behind someone, and ahead of others. We tend to always focus on who’s in front of us, and not who’s behind us. This is a mistake on two counts. By only focusing on who is ahead of us, we may miss that person behind us that came up with a new strategy and is about to leave everyone in the dust.

Secondly and more importantly, it’s too easy to get discouraged and give up if you are constantly seeing your progress as not measuring up to others. Plus, remember that you are only comparing yourself to what others want you to see. We all put our best foot forward in public situations but, no one really knows what it’s really like for other people.

In short, the best way to progress is to celebrate all your successes, both large and small and stay motivated.

5. Automation

This is the best friend of the solopreneur. You should always try to automate as much of the work as possible.

Use email autoresponders to market to customers. Use Sales funnels to acquire customers and sell products. Use social media scheduling software to make regular posts.

There is a lot of automation software available today, take advantage of it!

Conclusion

There are an estimated 18 million full time solopreneurs in the U.S. with and additional 12 million part time or so called “side gig” solopreneurs.[3] And the numbers keep rising every year.

The appeal is easy to understand — more control over your business, a flexible schedule, higher income potential, more time with friends and family, and virtually unlimited vacation time. The solopreneur also has the luxury of outsourcing duties that an employee would normally handle, thus eliminating the need for employee training, paid sick leave, benefits and payroll as well as employee turnover.

In short, the solopreneur gets to be the boss without all the headaches of employees. The world of the solopreneur keeps growing with no end in sight. In short, there’s never been a better time to go “Solo”.

More About Solopreneurship

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

David Carpenter

Lifelong entrepreneur and business owner helping others to realize the American Dream of business ownership

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Published on September 16, 2020

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

Today, with many companies going remote—at least until there’s a COVID-19 vaccine—technical proficiency is a vital skill for every interviewee to master. You may be asked to interview for a job on Zoom or Microsoft Teams. The way you handle yourself in the online interview (your interview skills) will say much about your ability to work from home efficiently.

Does your workspace look clean or cluttered? Is the area free from noise? Is your home office well lit?

Once hired, you may be asked to organize meetings on Zoom and other platforms. Along with mastering the technology, you will have to learn to follow certain protocols.

Now is the time to get up to speed on your technical skills. Learn which interview skills are needed for the particular job for which you are applying and practice them.

Online learning sites, such as LinkedIn Learning and Udemy, offer courses for free or a nominal membership fee. If you are a DIY type, make use of training videos offered through your particular digital tools.

Additionally, demonstrating that you have these 12 interview skills will help you land your dream job.

1. Organization

When you work in a brick-and-mortar office, some of the organizing is left to others. Your direct supervisor may host a Monday morning quarterback meeting where each worker reports on the progress on their tasks.

When you work from home, much of the organizing will be left up to you. To a much greater extent than before, you will need to develop a schedule and stick to it. Some tasks may be faster to complete from your home office where you don’t have other workers competing for your attention.

Conversely, you may find that some tasks that would have gone quickly in an office seem to take forever from your home computer. Your phone may ring a lot, which can distract you, or you may have kids and a spouse who inadvertently disrupt your schedule.

To do: Set a schedule and stick to it.

To discuss during your interview: Be specific. Point to the interview skill you utilized to create a schedule for a complex work project and followed it.

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2. Flexibility

You set a schedule for the completion of your tasks, but your prospective boss gets their work done between the hours of 2:00 and 8:00 a.m. Your West Coast partners are three hours behind your East Coast partners, and one of your partners lives in England while another lives in Australia.

Feedback and collaboration (see point 3) may need to happen asynchronously. Be the flexible candidate—the person who is willing to occasionally disrupt their schedule for the greater good of the team.

For extra credit: don’t just look up time zones, look up whether they observe Daylight Savings Time.

To do: Be flexible about meeting times.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a time when you worked on a team where members lived in different time zones. Discuss your processes.

3. Collaboration

As recently as six months ago, before the pandemic raged around the world, collaboration wasn’t quite as essential as it is today. In a remote office setting, collaboration doesn’t just mean working well with others—but actually sharing documents and editing them online on time.

Several cloud-based tools, such as Google Drive, Basecamp, and Trello, enable the type of collaborative teamwork that most companies want today.

To do: Download the correct software and practice using it.

To discuss during your interview: Discuss how you worked remotely with a group. Share how you overcame certain challenges.

4. Poise

Murphy’s Law states, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

When things do go awry, keeping your wits about you will demonstrate your consummate professionalism under fire. This will show your future bosses that you will be able to work well under the pressures of remote work.

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What could go wrong, you ask? You might be muted without realizing it—your Internet connection may not be robust, your headphones may blip out, your cellphone may ring, Zoom could have an outage. The list goes on and on.

To do: Make sure you have the most up-to-date versions of Skype and Zoom uploaded.

To discuss during your interview: Consider highlighting a time when a project did not go as planned. Demonstrate the interview skills that allowed you to rise to the challenge.

5. Communication

Your ability to handle online communication is one of the top critical skills you will need to thrive in today’s remote workplace. Download Slack if you haven’t already. Get used to toggling to a different form of online communication if one of your tools fails.

When it comes to the preferred format for your online interview, demonstrate proficiency by offering several different options. Give your phone number, Google Chat Hangouts name, and Skype ID.

To do: Familiarize yourself with video conference and online chat tools, such as Slack, Fleep, or Workplace by Facebook.

To discuss during your interview: Be prepared to share the online communication tools you’re using and examples of how you use each one.

6. Good Computer Hygiene

Setting up a backup system for your computer files is one of today’s crucial requirements for working in the digital age. Storing documents that can be shared by team members is also an efficient way to work together on presentations, articles, and reports—although studies show nearly one-third of employees avoid them because of the time it takes to find documents.

Be prepared in your interview to indicate your experience utilizing this technology, describing how you organize and store files using cloud-based collaboration tools. How do you keep track of links and tabs? Do you use Dropbox? Google Docs? Confluence? Others?

To do: Take inventory of the cloud-based document sharing and storage systems you know and use.

To discuss during your interview: Describe the document sharing tools and backup systems you utilize—both for personal protection and professional file sharing.

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7. Proper Meeting Etiquette

Today, presenting yourself virtually has its pros and cons. While you only have to show a professional persona from the waist up (make sure to straighten up your office space behind you), you must boost your energy to show that you’re engaged in the discussion.

Make your voice as upbeat as possible. Have your talking points at the ready and be careful not to ramble on, as long virtual meetings easily become tiresome. Use the mute and chat features to avoid interruptions.

To do: Once you know the meeting platform, make sure you have it mastered before your interview.

To discuss during your interview: Offer to share your screen to show an example of a work project— while at the same time demonstrating your prowess with video conferencing tools.

8. Respecting Feedback

In the age of working remotely, there may not be as many systems in place to obtain feedback (such as yearly performance reviews). Workers may need to ask for feedback, while managers may need to give more feedback than usual as the team adjusts to working off-site. Respecting feedback is on top of the interview skills list that you should learn.

Taking a proactive approach with giving and receiving feedback and incorporating it into your work style is a desirable quality that your employers will note.

To do: Reflect on the positive feedback you’ve received from past employers to bolster your confidence.

To discuss during your interview: Share a time when you received feedback that made you grow in the job. If you’re a manager, share a time when you gave feedback to an employee who needed to better their job performance.

9. Project Management

Staying on task with projects has evolved far past a to-do list, with electronic tools that can track time, manage team workloads, and even do the client billing. While your prospective employer may have its preferred project management program, your experience with any of the various options—whether it’s Basecamp, Teamwork, Smartsheet, or another—will be applicable.

To do: Know which project management software is likely to be used by the industry in which you’re interviewing, and familiarize yourself with its features.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a project management feature that is particularly useful in helping you excel in your work, and explain how you utilize it.

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10. Staying up to Speed

Employers expect their remote workers to be technically proficient so that technology runs smoothly and doesn’t create work disruptions. Bosses count on remote workers to know enough about their systems to manage them without relying on the help of overworked IT staff.

To do: Make sure you have a fast internet connection and have a back-up plan, such as a second computer or other tethered devices.

To discuss during your interview: Note that you are diligent about keeping your computer and software up to date.

11. Attention to Cybersecurity Issues

“Virus” is a loaded term these days. Spreading a computer virus in your company, however, will not only bring productivity to a halt, but it will also make you a pariah. While working from public places using free Wi-Fi (with uneven security provisions) has waned, in pre-pandemic times, coffee shops accounted for 62 percent of Wi-Fi security breaches.

To do: Keep antivirus software updated and don’t download software without verifying its authenticity.

To discuss during your interview: Emphasize your awareness of cybersecurity risks and your care in taking necessary safety measures.

12. Teamwork

Work relationships now mostly happen in virtual settings, yet employers value team-oriented workers.

Being a part of a team gives you a sense of connection and shared purpose. A well-honed team understands how mutual reliance makes the sum of its parts greater than when individuals act on their own, improving the end product.

To do: Take stock of your attributes as a team player and where you can cultivate skills that will enable you to work more collaboratively.

To discuss during your interview: Inquire about the company’s culture and how it encourages a sense of community despite working remotely.

Final Thoughts

Preparing for remote positions available in today’s job market will mean honing your interview skills to highlight your technical abilities as well as your adaptability. By adhering to these To-Do’s and perfecting your online interview skills and charisma, you will rise above the competition and win over any prospective employer.

More Tips to Improve Your Interview Skills

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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