A solopreneur? Who came up with that name?

[edit: Despite this post being quite dated, it still is relevant. Thank you for stopping by.]

Good question! It’s catchy though, don’t you think?

I was having a thought around my intended target market for a particular service (Online Entrepreneur Focus Circle) and it was clear to me it is those very small business owners that are either just starting out, or their business is designed as a one-man (or woman) show, or a small business with only a handful employees. Either way, the term solopreneur kept coming up. So what is and what’s so special about and if you’re one what’s the good, the bad and the ugly about it?

What is a solopreneur?

Let’s ask Google and see what comes up:

  • “A solopreneur is an entrepreneur who is their “own boss”-no other employees but you in your small business.” Marcia Merrill
  • “Solopreneur or Small Business Owner Understand This You Have No Competition” Laura Young
  • “A solopreneur is exactly the same as an entrepreneur except that they are creating a business without employees, without much funding, and in my case starting out as a part-time endeavor.” Outside The Cocoon
  • “Solopreneur is a term used for independent professionals to distinguish them from entrepreneurs. Some people use the terms solopreneur and entrepreneur interchangeably, but there are some differences. An entrepreneur seeks to build a company, with its own brand that could, potentially, exist even if the entrepreneur left the company. By contrast, solopreneurs build personal brands, tied to themselves as individual professionals. In the most basic sense of the term, solopreneurs are not necessarily interested in growing their businesses into stand-alone companies, although some solopreneurs eventually do become entrepreneurs.” Johnsonese Brokerage

What’s so special about being a solopreneur?

Versus an entrepreneur that is. Funny if you think about it! Check that last definition from above. That would mean that a solopreneur is not an entrepreneur but personally I totally disagree with that. To me an entrepreneur is somebody who creates something out of nothing and that could either then be a solopreneur career or turn into a small business, bigger business, mega business. Kelly Ritchie, co-founder of SalesPartners™ talked during his recent visit to South Africa about the difference of being an entrepreneur and a business owner. The latter being more of the manager type person, the mechanic, the person that makes things work. Whereas the entrepreneur is more of the maverick kind of person, the creator, the magician (something out of nothing magic).

So what’s special about being a solopreneur? The fact of the solo. Which is totally misleading. Let me explain.
The very word “solopreneur” has in it the alone factor. The “it’s only me” syndrome. I call it syndrome because I’ve fallen into this for far too long personally. Sometimes we have a tendency to believe that people really do achieve great success all on their own. “I did it all on my own.” A favourite statement. I just saw it on a blog post while researching the topic. What a lie! Nobody EVER does it alone. Period.

There is no way you can achieve anything of value on your own. If you’re alone too long you go crazy, bonkers, insane. I know what I’m talking about. You need others around you, a social network and if only to bounce off your crazy ideas of making it all on your own. At the very minimum you need somebody who you can talk to about whatever it is that you are trying to achieve. If you have a spouse you will need and want their support, bang, didn’t do it alone anymore! If you have kids you need a vast network for support to accommodate the times you can’t be there for them while you’re busy pursuing your lofty goals, all on your own, mind. If you’re setting out to become the greatest Tennis player ever setting foot on a Wimbledon court, which essentially is a one-man (woman) sport (you really can’t get more solo), good luck if you try it on your own. I once researched Roger Federer’s support team, if memory serves me well it was no less than 15 individuals he had constantly around him, making it possible for him to FOCUS on what he needed to focus on, playing the best tennis he possibly could.

So, guess I’ve proven my point. There is actually no solo in solopreneur.  Or at least there shouldn’t be. What makes being a solopreneur so special is the fact that a solopreneur tries to delude him/herself into the fact that they can do it on their own when in reality they can’t. The only true definition of a solopreneur should be the one that says, that as a solopreneur you don’t have an employee per se. Which can be a blessing and a curse at the same time. It depends entirely on the type of business the solopreneur pursues. It’s a great way for the right person to earn a living, for me personally beats being an employee hands down. So, being a solopreneur has got nothing to do with being alone or doing it alone, but more with the fact that there are no other employees.

The good about being a solopreneur

No boss. No employees. That just got to be good!

:)

Seriously, it probably is the biggest plus. If you’re ok with that circumstances. Having no boss means you must have a good measure of self-discipline and be good at holding yourself accountable. Having no employees means having no labour law issues, no sick leave issues, no spending-too-much-time-on-facebook-during-work-hours-issues and nobody stealing your milk from the fridge.

It’s also good for the ego. Because usually it’s all about you and your service. Coaches, consultants, professionals, all fall into this category and we all love being loved by others. That’s just the way it is. (For some people anyway, not for all, mind you, I know that.)

The journey from your bed to your office overall takes no longer than 20 seconds with a detour to making coffee maxing out at say 5 minutes. That’s not bad at all. That’s really good, beats being stuck in traffic daily by a mile. (Pun intended, Hehe) And comes in really handy if you slept in, unintentionally, and had to conduct your first phone client session in pajamas. Yes, big plus.

And the bad?

It get’s lonely. There’s nobody to shift blame to for bad work. The Little Voice in the head wanting to do who-knows-what-else is difficult to overcome at times. Unless you have a business plan that has some autopilot features built-in (aka making money while you sleep in) you’ll have a problem if you get sick or want to go on holiday and there is nobody else to do what needs be done.

Since as a solopreneur you have no employees guess who’s doing everything? Yep. You. From keeping the books (yak) to selling your service/product (that’s better) to managing production, actually producing (love that one) and paying suppliers (put reminders on phone, thank you for modern-day technology). You’re wearing all the hats of each department at all times. That can lead to burn out and subsequently can have a bad side effect on other areas of your life.

Very often solopreneurs know they need help to build their businesses but they either don’t have the time to spend time researching the internet up and down for valuable information and/or are short of cash to get the right help. That can lead to a looping situation where the more they try to build their business the less they have time to learn and grow and spend time working ON their business rather than IN.

Anything ugly here?

Well the only thing I can really think of is when you’re the wrong person to be a solopreneur but are stuck in that career. That would be really ugly if on top of it all you didn’t really like how your work life is playing out.

To sum it up

Personally I think for the right person with the right business model this is a great way of making a living and perhaps even building a little nest egg. If you are a solopreneur start thinking about how you can automate some of your offerings. Perhaps add more auto-products as I call them, for example recordings of certain topics, or build a blog with a following, or write a book, etc. There’s a lot that can be done but that’s a blog for another day :)

Don’t forget – nobody ever did it alone. Get your team, your support group together and make sure they are 100% behind you!

Leave your comment with your insights and definitions around solopreneurs! Are you one? What are you doing? How is it working for you?

 

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