It’s easy to see why so many people are drawn to the idea of being a solopreneur – a one-person business where you call all the shots. You never have to ask permission to do things your way, you can (kind of) set your own working hours, and all profits are yours to spend or save as you see fit. When things go well, you can shamelessly take all of the credit!
On the flipside, of course, you’re the only one to blame when things don’t go the way you hoped. As a solopreneur, you have to juggle a multitude of responsibilities, and depend only on yourself to get things done. You’ll likely have to say goodbye to weekends and holidays (at least in the beginning) and deal with all those business essentials like taxes all on your lonesome.
Get it right, though, and building an empire all your own can be incredibly rewarding – both financially and on a personal level. Here are some tips for making that happen!
Examples of solopreneur business models:
In some ways, there’s a lot of overlap between freelancers, online entrepreneurs, and solopreneurs. What sets the solopreneur apart is a desire to focus on one area they’re passionate about over the long term (unlike many entrepreneurs who enjoy moving on to new challenges and industries) and the desire to keep a hands-on approach rather than bring on fulltime employees. Some common solopreneur business models include:
- Freelance writers / designers / copywriters / web developers
- Social media managers
- E-commerce website owner
- Tax / accounting / bookkeeping / legal advice professional
- Local service provider – Dog walkers, handymen (handypeople?), house sitters, carpenters
- Life and business coaches
Identify your biggest challenges, and know your weak spots
Just because you’re running your business on your own doesn’t mean you have to (or should) try and do everything on your own. Give a little honest thought to the aspects you’re not so great at, and consider outsourcing those to freelancers or fellow solopreneurs. Not only will this free up your time, it’ll also allow you to get on with the parts of your business you enjoy the most.
Know where to pinch pennies and where not to
Be as frugal as possible, but not at the expense of lost profits. If you depend on your website to bring in clients, for example, don’t settle for the cheapest developer and designer you can find. Rather cut back on your own expenses, especially in the early days, and get together an emergency fund so you can spend money on the stuff that counts when you need to.
Depending on the nature of your solo business, you may also need to invest in tech, tools or equipment to set yourself apart from the competition. If the budget is tight, investigate the possibility of hiring what you need until your bank balance is a little healthier. Graphic designers, for example, may find iMac rental significantly cheaper than purchasing a cutting edge computer outright.
Learn from those who’ve made it
You can read about some pretty awesome solopreneur success stories here. Their ranks range from online solopreneurs who were making serious money before they were old enough to drink, to those who started highly successful solo businesses only after they retired.
All of them have made big mistakes and learned valuable lessons along the way which you can take on board. Of course, the vast majority of solopreneurs aren’t going to become multimillionaires through their businesses, but you can definitely find some helpful pointers for your own journey in their stories.
This is especially important if you’re working in the digital realm, but is true no matter what kind of solopreneur venture you’re running. Always be on the lookout for new courses, tools, technologies and approaches that can give you an edge over the competition.
Go above and beyond for each client
When you’re juggling so many things on your own, marketing and PR can easily end up on the backburner. Don’t underestimate the power of word of mouth (or the digital equivalent at least) to help build your reputation. Ensure your clients get exceptional service, and if they’re thrilled with what you’ve given them, ask them politely if they’d be kind enough to leave a positive online review.
Reach out a helping hand
More and more, consumers want to support businesses and brands that have a bigger mission than just making profits. Early on, identify causes and charities in your area – or which align with your industry – to partner with. Even if you can’t make a financial contribution, getting together some volunteers from the area to help out can do wonders for your brand’s rep – and help you feel your business is making a real difference too!