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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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Last Updated on March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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