As business trends evolve, we’ve come to hear terms like solopreneurship. But what does it mean exactly and is it possibly a new career path for you? Find out below!
While the technical opportunities to become an entrepreneur have grown rapidly in the digital age, entrepreneurialism is arguably less attractive than it has ever been. The United States has been in a startup decline for the last few decades. Millennials are more risk-averse and less ambitious than Baby Boomers, after years of economic decline and crisis after crisis. They face much greater debt, bigger living costs, and lower wages. An aging population and slowed population growth also affect the supply and demand of entrepreneurialism.
Meanwhile, larger firms have grown at a much faster pace domestically and internationally, soaking up talent and taking ownership of young companies and potential startup ideas. Venture capitalists and investors are favoring mature and proven businesses more so than innovators, and the rapid growth in tech is crowding out competitors, rather than calling on a rising tide to lift all boats.
With a pandemic snapping at our heels, it’s understandable to be frightened of failure and the risks associated with taking the plunge towards a business of your own.
However, it’s also important not to be consumed entirely by this bleak outlook. Just because fewer people are starting businesses doesn’t mean it’s gotten any harder – it’s actually gotten easier.
The Internet remains the great enabler, and it doesn’t take much capital to start a brand-new business. This is especially true for solopreneurs, who are taking advantage of the way the Internet has enabled many to begin a venture of their own without the need for a team to produce and market their idea, product, or service.
Furthermore, while startup businesses have certainly become less common, “side gigs” and “hustle culture” definitely haven’t. Younger people in general are picking up more jobs and ventures, from flipping furniture to making jewelry on Etsy, as a source of extra income. But solopreneurship takes it to another level, taking the “hustle” and turning it into a one-person business.
What’s a Solopreneur?
A solopreneur is an entrepreneur working independently as the sole human element in his or her venture. Solopreneurs may network with others, socialize with potential business partners for separate ventures, and seek funding, but they ostensibly create and are entirely responsible for every aspect of their business, assuming all the risk and all of the rewards without employing anyone else.
Solopreneurs differ from entrepreneurs in that they don’t hire others to work for them – but they will still work with them, outsourcing jobs they can’t do effectively on their own or commissioning work that requires extra hands. A solopreneur may eventually expand into an entrepreneurial venture, but solopreneurs start their business with the intention of being the only one involved.
It’s arguably easier to be a solopreneur, especially if you know what you’re good at and know how to market it. You’re limited entirely by your own work capacity and talent but can make up for it by forming the right alliances to score lucrative opportunities and develop and expand your customer base. But it’s still hard work. If you think you’re ready to be a solopreneur, read on.
It’s Not Just You vs. The World
Being a solopreneur is lonely, even more lonely than it already is to be an entrepreneur. But that doesn’t mean the life of a solopreneur is one of total isolation. Solopreneurs crash and burn when working entirely alone, as do we all.
While it is a solopreneur’s goal to set up a business they can run on their own, businesses never exist within a vacuum. The success of a startup is entirely reliant on correctly identifying an existing or unseen demand. Businesses also exist in competition with one another, improving and innovating often based on those around them. And finally, many businesses exist only because of the cooperation between multiple ambitious minds working together on separate yet related problems.
One of the most important elements of “making it” as a solopreneur is recognizing how you can best work with those around you to survive, and eventually thrive. You come to see those around you as valuable contacts and friends and connect with customers on a personal level as well. Authenticity is the key to longevity in the startup world.
Networking and Coworking as a Solopreneur
Many solopreneurs work from home, especially given the ongoing public health crisis. But working from home for too long can be very isolating, not just in a mental sense, but also from a business perspective. You need to interact with others to get a better understanding of the local startup scene, and to identify potential partners and competitors.
Coworking spaces are a natural fit for solopreneurs, providing them with accessible and affordable space to be productive outside of your own home, free from domestic distractions, and in the middle of an environment filled with networking opportunities and professionals eager to exchange ideas or seek out work relationships.
Coworking spaces eliminate the need to worry about technical difficulties, unreliable internet service, needless distractions, and the crushing feeling of being stuck within the same four walls for weeks on end. And all without the costs and hassle of setting up an office of your own, and with the benefit of working within a melting pot of local talent, including independent contractors and other solopreneurs.
Is Solopreneurship Right for You?
Just like being an entrepreneur, solopreneurship offers you the opportunity to be your own boss. And given the technical opportunities around us today, it’s easier than ever to get started.
Competition is stiff, there are no guarantees, you’ll be working hard for most of the day every day, and it’s something you have to be in for the long haul if you expect to make any money back. You may have to borrow money to get started, you may go into debt if your idea fails, and many entrepreneurs talk about the emotional hardships that come with being at the helm of your own business venture.
But ultimately, it’s worth it when you do succeed. You get to be proud of every step you’re taking in the name of something you believe in and are 100% responsible for.