So you finally quit your boring, dissatisfying, soul-sapping 9-5 job (or you’re just about to).
And you’ve been thinking about going out on your own.
But you can’t start your own solo business by simply taking a leap of faith into the deep unknown. It’s important to get all the facts, do your research, and make informed choices as you move forward.
In this blog post, we’ll take you through the fundamentals of being a solopreneur in online business, explain its pros and cons with total transparency, and share some solid strategies for growth. Let’s dive in!
Who is a solopreneur?
A solopreneur is an individual who starts and runs their business independently, without the support of a co-founder or W-2 employees. A solopreneur organises, manages, and assumes the risk of their business enterprise all by themselves.
This doesn’t mean that solopreneurs cannot work with others. Solopreneurs can hire contractors, freelancers, or even interns to handle specific tasks, but they don’t typically hire and manage full-time, salaried employees in an office.
As a solopreneur, you can launch and run a wide range of businesses and provide several kinds of services:
Freelancing is one of the most lucrative opportunities right now for anyone looking to go out on their own. A 2019 survey by Upwork and Freelancers Union found that 57 million people in America alone do freelance work. And as opportunities rise, more and more people are transitioning to freelancing full-time.
Freelancers can work as writers, graphic designers, web designers, social media managers, virtual assistants, IT professionals, and more.
Consulting and coaching
If you have specialised experience in a certain area and want to get paid for your expertise, consulting or coaching might be a great way for you to leverage your skills and values as a solopreneur. As a consultant or coach, you can train or help others in almost any field, be it business consulting, sales coaching, leadership consulting, or health coaching among others.
Selling digital content
Do you have a knack for creating content in the form of products that people can buy online? If yes, solopreneurship is perfect for you. You can build and sell digital products like online courses, ebooks, software and apps, either through your own website or on platforms like Shopify and ProductHunt.
Opportunities for solopreneurs are soaring in the current business landscape with statistics predicting annual projected growth of 3.6% in the independent workforce.
If you have second thoughts on whether all this effort will be worth it, remember that 82% of solopreneurs report feeling happier and more satisfied working independently than they did in their traditional 9-5.
Before we go any further, let’s look at what sets a solopreneur apart from an entrepreneur.
Difference between solopreneurs and entrepreneurs
Both solopreneurs and entrepreneurs launch and run their own businesses. And while most entrepreneurs usually start out as solopreneurs, there are some important distinctions between the two.
All solopreneurs are entrepreneurs, but not all entrepreneurs are solopreneurs
Who they are
Solopreneurs manage every aspect of their business alone. Not only are they founders and creators, but they are also responsible for producing and delivering their products and services to clients and customers.
Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, may start off by working alone, but they eventually hire and manage a team to carry out different tasks. Entrepreneurs are usually managers and creators – they delegate production and delivery to their employees so they can focus on growth and strategy.
What they do
Often, entrepreneurs are the kind of people who always have a new, exciting business idea they want to build on. They may build multiple businesses and pursue a bunch of different opportunities throughout the course of their career. They may also build a single agency that offers multiple services. For example, The Scribesmith is a digital marketing agency that offers conversion copywriting, Facebook ad management, social media management, and brand consulting services.
Unlike entrepreneurs, solopreneurs usually have a single business focus. They may have a specific niche offering and work towards building a solid customer base for their specialised product or service. A solopreneur’s aim is to keep their business profitable while still keeping things small-scale and easy for one person to manage.
The bigger a company gets, the more financial responsibility the owner must assume. Entrepreneurs must keep their businesses profitable enough to pay their team’s salaries. They must also account for factors such as payroll, benefits, and taxes in their business structure. Solopreneurs usually manage their businesses as a single-member LLC or sole proprietorship – these involve less financial risk and grant complete authority to the owner.
Now that you know the key differences between solopreneurs and entrepreneurs, let’s jump into the advantages and disadvantages of solopreneurship.
Advantages of being a solopreneur
You get the freedom and flexibility to work how, where and when you want. You don’t have to stick to a traditional 9-5 schedule or work from a single fixed location. This flexibility is one of the BIGGEST reasons why people choose solopreneurship.
Absolute freedom & creativity
You have the freedom to independently take decisions that are best for your business. You can choose who you want to work with (and who you don’t), pivot quickly, experiment, innovate, and get as creative as you like.
When you work for yourself, you can break free from the limited income shackles that come with working for a company or agency. You can charge what you’re worth, raise your rates and significantly increase your earning potential.
Disadvantages of being a solopreneur
No one to brainstorm with
One key challenge that many solopreneurs face is the lack of like-minded professionals to brainstorm or troubleshoot with. And the pressure of being solely responsible for every decision you make can get overwhelming sometimes.
However, most solopreneurs deal with this by seeking out and participating in online communities (more on that below!).
Knowing every aspect of your business
A solopreneur has to wear many hats at work. When you have to handle every aspect of your business by yourself, it’s not enough to just be a great copywriter or sales coach. You need to also be good at accounting, content creation, sales, marketing, customer service and more. This might seem like a lot at first, but you can actually learn all these skills through some consistent effort and hard work.
Learning ecosystems like Terrain prove useful here. Terrain provides a single resource centre for solopreneurs who need to develop a broad skill set to run their business. Just dip in, learn what you need, and get moving in no time again.
How to grow your business as a solopreneur
Client acquisition, a competitive industry, and a million conflicting priorities are some of the key challenges that solopreneurs face when they’re just starting out. However, with the right strategies, tools and resources, solopreneurs can build systems and networks that can solve these problems and lead them to steady and sustainable growth.
Improve productivity with efficient time management
In today’s super fast-paced world, everyone’s always short on time. But if you’re a solopreneur who has to handle accounting, operations, production, delivery, AND outreach all by yourself, you might find yourself working 70-hour weeks before you know it.
That’s why it’s so important to manage your time efficiently by leveraging the right tools and resources.
Motion: This is a super useful tool for solopreneurs who juggle 46279 tasks and meetings every day. Motion uses AI to optimise your day. Add all your tasks, deadlines and meetings in one place, and Motion will create your schedule, prioritise your tasks and manage your meetings for you!
Book Like A Boss: A super useful all-in-one selling platform to schedule your appointments and sell your products and services.
Acuity: If you spend a lot of your time writing emails to arrange meetings with clients and leads, you can use a scheduling tool like Acuity. It lets clients view your real-time availability and schedule in their own appointments, sans all the back and forth.
Calendly: Calendly is a lot like Acuity. Send guests and clients your Calendly link, have them pick a time slot that works and get the event seamlessly synced to your calendar.
You might think it’s impossible to scale your solo business without hiring a team or working yourself to the point of exhaustion. But you’ll be surprised to learn HOW MUCH time and energy can be saved by automating simple every day administrative tasks that take forever when you do them manually every time.
For example: If you own an e-commerce store, you can automate parts of your order fulfilment or customer service. Or if you’re building a sales and marketing strategy, automating things like emails, social media posts, podcast outreach, and onboarding systems can free up HOURS of your time.
Check out tools like:
ActiveCampaign: To schedule and automate email campaigns
Later: To schedule batches of social content for a week, a month, or even longer.
Zapier: It’s an online automation tool that lets you create workflows to connect your web apps and automate repetitive tasks. Zapier comes with a slight learning curve but once you start using it, there’s no end to what it can do for you! If you need help getting started, check out this quick course on automating podcast outreach using Zapier.
Network & Community
Solopreneurship can get lonely. That’s why most solopreneurs actively seek out online communities. They provide opportunities for learning and collaboration and help you get the spotlight on your business.
Most importantly, communities provide the BEST networking grounds. The connections you build in communities can have lasting payoffs – they can bring in referrals and leads, help you find your ideal clients and help you establish yourself as an expert in your field.
You can network and connect with other solopreneurs in a number of ways:
- Get active on Twitter
- Join Facebook and LinkedIn groups
- Attend events in person
- Or join the Sandbox – a community of practice for copywriters, VAs, designers, and coaches who want to engage, experiment, vent, learn and collaborate with one another in a way that’s fresh, organic and designed for meaningful connection.
Expand your knowledge base
Things in online business change in nanoseconds.
As a solopreneur, you can always start out by doing what you do best, but in order to stay relevant (and profitable!), it’s important to expand your knowledge base by learning new skills and refining existing ones.
Stacking new skills with existing ones can help you build a solid skillset and add related services to your core offer, raise your rates with confidence, or specialise further in your niche.
For bite-sized, done-in-an-afternoon courses that you can learn and implement on the same day, check out what we have to offer on Terrain.
This should give you a solid sense of how to launch and grow your solo business, but if you need any more information or have any questions, feel free to comment below or chat with other solopreneurs in our community space →