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How to Become a Successful Solopreneur and Thrive

How to Become a Successful Solopreneur and Thrive
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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

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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 July 27, 2021

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow
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During the pandemic, video conferencing replaced in-person meetings and has now become the standard option for business meetings. Over the past 17 months, most workers have gotten past the video conferencing learning curve with Zoom or Microsoft Teams (or their platform of choice).

But just as with in-person meetings, attention can wax and wane. Some say we’re just not used to staring at ourselves so much on the screen. Instead of fixating on that, try employing smart video conferencing etiquette, or you may risk indiscretions that will flag you as a slacker.

Put the Pro in Professional

After more than a year of fine-tuning, here are the new rules of video conferencing etiquette.

1. Mute Your Mobile and Other Devices

The first video conference etiquette you need to know is muting your other devices. Just as in the pre-COVID days, someone’s obnoxious ring tone blaring Taylor Swift’s newest single in the middle of a meeting is also an annoyance if it happens during a Zoom meeting and so is the inevitable fumbling to turn off the sound. Even the apologies to the group get tiresome.

Also, when notifications are activated on the computer that you’re using for the meeting, the incoming message takes over the audio and you’ll miss out on snippets of the conversation. Be sure to eliminate this possible faux pas.

2. Dress the Part

While working from home, you may have fallen into the habit of slipping on your comfiest T-shirt each day. Hey, no judgments! But before you log on to your video conference, try to make an effort with your appearance.

Depending on your company culture and the importance of your meeting, consider dressing the part of the professional whom you wish to project. It will help you feel more self-assured, and others will likely take you more seriously.

For women, wear light make-up, put on earrings, and make sure your blouse is crisply pressed. For men, show up freshly shaved. Wearing a crisp collared shirt in a solid color will usually suffice.

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Pro Tip: Stay away from wearing white or black, unless those colors look great on you. Consider wearing light blue or brown instead.

3. Stage Your Workspace

Have you noticed the backdrops of experts interviewed on news shows? Bookshelves and photographs are carefully curated, and no busy-patterned furniture or artwork is in sight.

Take note of what appears behind you when you choose the location of your video conferences. Piles of junk mail on the table or stacks of folded laundry on the couch will convey more about your personal life than you care to share. Make sure you remove clutter from the camera’s eye, and present a tidy, orderly workspace to your colleagues, coworkers, and bosses.

4. Put Some Thought Into Lighting and Perspective

Be aware that in a video conference, your computer camera can actually make you look up to ten pounds heavier depending on where you sit. But you can easily drop those added pounds by moving back from the screen to diminish the wide-angle distortion.

Frame your head on the screen by tilting the screen up or down. Also, it’s best to not place yourself in front of a window or bright light, which makes you appear in shadow. Instead, face the light source, moving it (or yourself) until you have a flattering amount of illumination. You can also purchase some small spotlights that allow you to add light as needed.

Pro Tip: If your lights add too much redness to your skin, consider counter-balancing with a green filter.

Remember That Half of Life Is Showing Up

5. Arrive on Time

In the old days of in-person meetings, it was nearly impossible to slip in late into a meeting unnoticed. In today’s video conferences, logging in late still shows poor form. Instead, strive to arrive five minutes early and get yourself settled.

Once the meeting is underway, the host may be less attentive about late arrivals waiting to be let in. Diverting the host’s attention away from the meeting with a tardy entry request is the ultimate giveaway that you didn’t honor the schedule. If you don’t want a black mark against you, log in on time.

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6. Turn on Your Video

Few people like to see their face on the screen, but buck up and turn on your camera in video conferences. In most cases, it’s better to be a face on a screen than a name in a blank square. Your statements will be more memorable when other meeting attendees can see you.

If you need to turn off the video, either because of a poor connection, some commotion in the room, or a need for a quick break, give a short explanation via the chat feature. Then, go back on video as soon as you’re able.

Pro Tip: Keep your explanation for your departure pithy. “Sorry! Doorbell rang. Back in five” says it all. Be sure to honor what you say in chat and really do return in five minutes.

7. Plan Ahead Before Sharing Your Screen

Don’t be one of those people who makes everyone else wait as you click through folders in search of a document. That’s just poor video conferencing etiquette. If you know you’ll need to share a document or video on your screen, prepare by pulling it out of its folder and onto your desktop. Also, clean up the files and folders on your desktop to reduce clutter and facilitate easy access. Close other programs like chat, calendar notifications, and email. Disable pop-up notifications to ensure there’ll be no unforeseen distractions.

Be sure to remind the host before the meeting that you’ll need them to activate the screen-sharing function. Show courtesy once you’re finished by hitting “stop share” to return to the screen with participants.

Attend to the Pesky Details

8. Make Sure That Meetings Remain Right-Sized

With the easy accessibility of video conferencing, it can be tempting to extend the meeting invitation beyond the core group and include everyone peripherally involved in a project. But just as with in-person meetings, the more people involved, the more unwieldy the meeting becomes.

Use good judgment when asking others to sit through a video conference so that you don’t needlessly take up others’ time and so that participants can be fully engaged.

9. Remember to “Unmute” Before You Speak

Most of us are likely able to count on one hand the number of video conferences when someone didn’t have to be reminded, “You’re on mute!” Forgetting to unmute before speaking has become one of the most common missteps in video conferencing.[1]

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Show everyone your impeccable video-conferencing poise by managing your mute feature with flawless control.

10. Stay on Point to Keep the Meeting Length in Check

As with in-person meetings, an agenda with assigned time limits for discussions remains necessary to keep a meeting focused. Data shows, however, that video conferencing can actually reduce meeting time.[2] Reasons include the elimination of commuting time and the ability to screen share and annotate to keep everyone on task.

Additionally, side conversations are virtually impossible with video conferencing now that you can no longer have back-and-forth exchanges with the person beside you.

Pro Tip: If you’re running the meeting, let attendees know in advance the protocol for the chat feature. Is it okay for them to “chat among themselves” or not? (See point 11, as well.)

Talking Has a Time and a Place

11. Chat Appropriately

Just like side conversations or texting in an in-person meeting, the use of the chat feature during a video conference can be disrespectful unless it’s directed to all participants. Hence, it’s good video conferencing etiquette to mind your use of the chat.

At the start of the meeting, you may want to ask the host if it’s alright for participants to use the chat feature. This allows them to disable it if they choose. Used appropriately, it can be a helpful tool to clarify or amplify an earlier point once the conversation has moved on or to let the group know that you need to sign off early (and why).

12. Use the “Raise Hand” Feature to Avoid Interruptions

The slight lag in many video conferences can result in speaking over another person if you attempt to jump into a conversation. To avoid this awkward interruption, indicate when you have something to add to the discussion with the raise-your-hand feature that signals the host you would like to speak. This effective meeting management device makes video conferencing run more smoothly, especially with a large group, but it must be activated and monitored by the host.

Pro Tip: For meetings of six to ten people, sometimes the old-fashioned raising of your physical hand may be the best option. But it’s up to the meeting host. Ask them what they would prefer, and follow that.

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13. Don’t Record the Session or Take Photos Without Prior Permission

In this case, not sharing is caring. The “sharing culture” made popular through social media has little place in video conferencing. Before recording a meeting or capturing a screenshot of the participants, always ask for consent in advance from the full roster of attendees. Knowing that a video conference will be photographed or recorded could have a bearing on what others are willing to discuss.

Manage Yourself

14. Minimize Distractions

While de-activating audio and video features can keep distractions from affecting the other participants, you will need to manage noise and disruptions on your end to give your full attention to the meeting.

Move out of high-traffic zones in your home, keep your door closed, and ask family members to be considerate.

15. Save Snacking for Later

Save snacking for later—or earlier. Eating while on video conference is a no-no. Munching in front of the group while close to the camera—as you are when video conferencing—subjects the participants to an up-close and (too) personal view of your food consumption process.

However, it’s perfectly fine to sip quietly from a glass of water or cup of coffee or tea. If the meeting threatens to last for more than two hours, you may want to ask the host in advance to schedule a five-minute break at the halfway point.

Final Thoughts

Even though bosses are now beginning to ask workers to spend some of their workdays on-site, up to 80 percent will permit employees to work remotely at least part of the time, which means more video conferencing in your future.[3] Mastering these video conferencing etiquette tips will help you dial in—as well as dial back—your participation and demonstrate your unwavering level of engagement to the team.

Featured photo credit: Chris Montgomery via unsplash.com

Reference

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