A solopreneur is a professional who builds a personal brand that is tied to himself as the brand. In contrast, an entrepreneur is a person that builds a brand intending to expand the company/brand outside of themselves. The brand would then be able to technically exist if that individual were to leave the company, sell the company, etc.
Solopreneurship is fast becoming a response to current sociological trends. More women are re-entering the workplace after child-rearing and are opting for new options, besides their previous careers or employment. Old and young people alike are considering second careers as a way to prolong retirement or ease into it. Others are merely observing the realities of the workplace as no longer supporting long-term careers in that rapid changes are confronting the notion of "job security".
For some of us, we are looking to use the knowledge and skills we have as an opportunity to stretch our personal possibilities as well as allow our own pace and time management in preserving our sense of harmony in work and family/personal life. Annie Janis, a consultant, offers the following reasons for emerging solopreneurship:
We value autonomy and achievement more than "security."
We want more than just showing up for a job; our work must be satisfying and feed a passion. Many of us have not only intellectual intelligence but also emotional intelligence, and solopreneurship allows us to use our skills of getting along with people and gaining trust.
A solopreneur is still an entrepreneur just a little difference in the sense that as an entrepreneur, you're constantly on the lookout for the next business opportunity/venture or buyout. The entrepreneur simply likes to diversify and doesn't focus solely on a single project for too long, unlike the solopreneur.
This is fine because they have the staff to keep everything ticking and moving in the direction the owners want. However, a solopreneur can't do this. They base their focus on their solo business as a long-term, if not a lifetime project. They don't have multiple aspirations beyond making their solo business grow the best they can.
A solopreneur also has complete control over their company. They do not have to deal with employees. They don't have to deal with shareholders. What they say is what happens. They are simply the decision-makers for their business and no one else. They drive their company in the direction they want it to go. Unlike an entrepreneur who requires more networking.
One clear difference between the two is that entrepreneurs act like managers whereas a solopreneur is more a worker and manager combined. Both are the helm of their business, but they manage it in completely different ways,
In short, Solopreneurs do it all. Entrepreneurs delegate and manage.
To be successful as a solopreneur, you will need to figure out what your strengths and talents are, how you can create value for people, and then devise a unique marketing strategy. Success will come through planning, hard work, and strategy, and all of this will take time. If you stick to it, you will enjoy benefits in the long run and enjoy a career on your own terms.
Here are some tips to get started:
Breakdown your goals into achievable bits and then mark your calendar with time dedicated to each component of the solopreneurship business you need to spend time on.
In this hyper-fast world, it's very easy to get distracted and there will be many times where you fall short of your target but the important thing is not to beat yourself over it. Consistency is the key. When you fail to stick to your schedule for a day, two days, or even a week, dust yourself off and get back into it.
Organization is vital to a successful business as it’s the key to stay focused on what you’re good at with respect to time. That’s why many solopreneurs are excellent time managers.
They develop practices, habits, and acquire tools to keep them focused and productive. Try out different routines and see what works best for you. You might be a night owl or find that your most productive hours are in the morning. Experimenting with your routine, in the beginning, will help you get organized.
You don't have to do it all by yourself.
Just as you are a solopreneur, there are many others out there offering services for tasks you need done. To give yourself more time and to focus more on the revenue-generating aspect of the business, consider outsourcing repetitive tasks like data entry or an aspect of the business you struggle with. Outsourcing tasks to freelancers that you either:
-aren't adept at, or
-dislike, is ideal and normal
There is an abundance of freelancing platforms that give you value and access to experts in different fields. The most popular freelancing site you can try out is Upwork, fiver, guru, and PeoplePerHour. There are many outsourcing sites. However, the ones listed above are widely regarded and popular among clients and freelancers alike. Some activities you might consider outsourcing include bookkeeping, writing blog posts, and researching (competition, industry, etc.), website/app development, virtual human resource, and many more.
It’s a good practice to keep an eye on the competition and to learn deeply about what goes on in your business domain.
You can start by conducting a competitor analysis to get an idea of where you stand in relation to other similar businesses and where an opportunity exists for you to be unique.
Then, it's always a good idea to read a lot of books related to your domain so you can be highly knowledgeable.
You want to be known as an expert in your field. However, this title of thought leadership is earned, not given. For people to look to you as a source of valuable insight, you should produce useful content with highly-relevant information. Establishing yourself as an authority in your field and market is crucial to the survival of your solopreneurship business as it requires strategy, planning, and effort.
Automation can be a solopreneur's best friend. It allows you to manage repetitive tasks without hiring more people.
You can’t be everywhere at once. It’s just pure physics. However, one way to keep the technology working in your favor is to make use of automation if you aren’t already.
Automation allows sending welcome emails, abandoned cart reminders, product recommendations, and even wishing birthdays to customers less time-consuming.
If you’re creating an online course, you can automate things like your social media posts and email marketing campaign. Check out tools like Hootsuite, Buffer, and MailChimp.
Technology is the soul of any business and its importance to a solopreneur is crucial to the survival of a solo business. It's typically a solopreneur’s best friend. When you’re trying to grow your business, you can’t do it all on your own without making use of accompanying tools and standalone software/apps that get the job done.
Evernote is a very useful productivity tool that comes in handy in taking notes you'd otherwise scribble down in your diary or collect on your phone.
This streamlined note-taking app enables you to manage your documents, take notes, share ideas, set schedules for yourself, keep track of all your passwords, and more. Best of all, you can access those notes from all of your devices on the go.
The importance of email marketing to a solopreneur cannot be overemphasized especially when you’re starting. It’s a lonely and disappointing road if you do not incorporate email marketing into your customer attraction and retention techniques. For you to grow your solo business you need to market yourself. Plain and simple. it is a highly effective marketing strategy to attract potential customers to the product and services you render. Mailmuch among other marketing tools stands out as a popular choice in achieving your objective and ultimately generating sales.
MailMunch lets you create beautiful opt-in forms for your website without writing a single line of code. Most blogs are designed for hit-and-run readers. People find your blog, read your article, and leave. Wouldn’t it be nice if some of those people subscribe so you can email them later?
MailMunch provides the tools you need to grow your email list and convert visitors into customers. Now, people will find your blog, read your article, and subscribe via email to your newsletter. You can also sync your newsletter subscribers to other popular email marketing tools like Mailchimp.
A solopreneur that wants to be visible to the outside world needs to have an online presence and Wix undoubtedly ticks that box.
Wix is known for its simple website builder, with a drag and drop interface and a development wonderland for complete beginners. Wix eCommerce has also seen some success, with competitive pricing and decent-looking themes.
The Wix eCommerce system allows for selling anything from clothing to specialty cakes. There's even support for digital goods like audio files and eBooks.
However, Wix still has a long way to go to compete with household names like Shopify, WordPress, or more beautiful systems like Squarespace, although that's not exactly what Wix is trying to do.
A conventional business person who sells clothes needs a shop, right? Likewise, a solopreneur needs an online space to markets its product and services. Shopify provides a platform that allows anyone to set up an online store and sell their products.
Shopify is probably the most well-known name in small business eCommerce. Over one million businesses use the platform. It is a very approachable solution, but the learning curve is steeper than you’ll find with Wix. This is primarily because of the wide range of bolt-on apps and integrations you can use with Shopify. It has its app store with thousands of apps.
Shopify is highly regarded as a third-party eCommerce platform and an online store builder that allows solopreneurs and entrepreneurs to create a selling space and promote their products. It’s one of the leading online store builders that’s sure to catapult your online store to the next level.
Solopreneur speakers often do almost everything themselves, including writing their copy for presentations, proposals, articles, email, social media, and website pages. Making sure that your text is free from typos and that you are using commas correctly usually takes another set of eyes (i.e. a proofreader) to go over your copy, but this can be time-consuming and costly.
Now that we've gone over how to grow as a solopreneur and which tools can assist in that process, let's look at some of the perks of being a solopreneur.
Freelance work is witnessing massive growth and a lot of businesses are already employing freelancers for projects, which otherwise would be costly to them (employee hiring and training costs). There are also many more opportunities available to solopreneurs and freelancers through social media, and freelance websites like Upwork and Fiverr and job board sites like Indeed and Adzuna.
As a solopreneur, you can dictate when and how you want to schedule your time to be productive. You won't have to worry about skipping important personal events which you had to when working for a boss. Setting your own schedule means greater flexibility in balancing professional and personal life.
There's a new emerging trend where startups are now industry-specific, and they employ skilled and experienced people in those industries. This is also removing the role of a middleman as companies are creating their own marketplace and job listings online. These are great avenues for solopreneurs to pick up projects and also specialize in specific industries.
Solopreneurs hold their destiny in their hands, and they have the freedom to carve their careers as they wish. They use their passion, best skills, determination, and knowledge to create something very personal and from the ground up. They get to enjoy the thrill of setting and fulfilling their own goals as they grow along the way. The path to growing their business is limitless.
Rukham is the Content Lead at Mailmunch. He believes trust should be the basis for all marketing communications.