You've probably read and heard that in order to succeed in your business, you need to build a team, assemble a staff, and visibly grow your presence. That is one way to reach the next level of success, but it's not the only way.
There are about 17.9 million self-defined solopreneurs working in America today and that number is expected to continue to rise
Who's to say that someone—maybe you—can't achieve success on your own? Let’s face it: Some folks just prefer to work alone, on their own, in an environment where they maintain complete and total control of the day-to-day workings.
"Solopreneurs" are those industrious individuals who are making strides in their business goals without having to work elbow to elbow alongside others. They've perfected the method to work in complete autonomy and yet they aren't completely isolated. Here's how their method works, and how it might just work for you, too.
What is a solopreneur?
According to Urban Dictionary, a solopreneur is an entrepreneur who works alone, "solo," running their business single handedly.
If this strikes you as a new concept, it's not. Millions of people have been doing this for a long time. These industrious individuals might have been regarded as "independent business persons," "business soloists" or "one-man shows." However labeled, the trend toward "solopreneurship" is on the upward track.
An October 2014 survey conducted by consultancy MBO Partners concludes there are about 17.9 million self-defined solopreneurs working in America today and that number is expected to continue to rise, but why?
Solopreneurship offers what lies at the heart of traditional entrepreneurship: freedom, control and autonomy in how one achieves their goals and supports their lifestyle.
There's nothing really new about that sentiment, but what is new is how today's technology—namely the maturing of the Internet and the proliferation of mobile computing and communication—has made it easier than ever for individuals to establish and manage a business presence by their own means, even to the point of being able to customize their approach to their own goals and desires.
Anyone can become a solopreneur. The most intriguing revelation of the MBO Partners' research is the demographic data that identify who these solopreneurs are:
Why are you doing this? This is critical to your success. It will become the litmus test to help you make decisions along the way
- 28 percent are Millennials (born between 1985 and 2001)
- 29 percent are Gen Xers (born between 1965 and 1984)
- 30 percent are baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964)
- 14 percent are seniors (people over the age of 68)
The key to succeeding as a solopreneur comes from knowing how to play.
Use these approaches
One of the most difficult aspects of working for yourself and by yourself is that there's no one there to guide you, to tell you what to do next, and to commend you (or maybe scold you) for your results. You're on your own. That said, here are key factors to consider and nurture in your one-person journey.
Be clear about your intention. Simply stated, what is your reason for becoming a solopreneur? Do you want personal freedom? Do you want to make money for yourself rather than for an employer? Do you want to make a name for yourself?
You can easily say "yes" to each of those, but you need to dig deep to honestly arrive at an answer to this question: Why are you doing this? This is critical to your success. It will become the litmus test to help you make decisions along the way. Most important, it will be your guiding light and perpetual motivation when times get tough (and they will), when obstacles seem to be insurmountable (which they do), and when you wonder if you should throw in the towel (which you will).
Your well-understood intention is what will drive and sustain your spirit as you make this sometimes-lonesome journey.
Ensure you can measure your success. How will you know if you're progressing if you can't objectively evaluate your results? Whether you measure the number of products you've listed, the number of clients or customers you've attracted, or even the amount of hours you're working to achieve your goals, you need some sort of yardstick to give you impassionate indication of how well you're succeeding.
Over expectation is likely one of the aspects that drove you to leave an over-demanding employer. Don't put that same pressure on yourself
Evaluate and adopt the best tools. Be vigilant about the different technology tools and business processes you can incorporate into your business. When you're running your own show, you need to perform with the strength of many. Tools and techniques enable you to do more with less effort and, as it's just you we're talking about, you'll need the best of both to reach your goals.
Be realistic. When you were defining your intent for your solopreneurship journey, do so acknowledging your strengths and weaknesses. There's nothing that says this endeavor won't help you become better, stronger, and smarter, but stay in touch with who you are deep down and refrain from expecting more than you could conceivably deliver.
Over expectation is likely one of the aspects that drove you to leave an over-demanding employer. Don't put that same pressure on yourself.
Will you really be alone?
Perhaps the biggest misconception about solopreneurs is that they always work alone. Far from it! The best of the best learn immediately how to utilize the skills, talents and resources of others.
Remember that the best bosses don't do the entire job themselves; they hired others. You can expect to do the same as you establish partnerships with others to bring your business ideas to fruition. You'll pull the levers to make these resources work for you, but you won't truly be in this alone.
And, for those who wonder if they might become lonely in a solopreneurship: not a chance. You'll probably be working with more folks than ever as you single-handedly navigate your ideas to success.