Running your own business under any circumstances takes a lot of work. It takes even more effort if you go it alone as a solopreneur because you will need to do almost everything, from marketing to production to fulfillment. Here’s a rundown of what a solopreneur is and how to become one.
What is a solopreneur?
The word “solopreneur” is a blend of the words “solo” and “entrepreneur.” A solopreneurs can be a freelancer, an independent worker, or a business owner with no full-time employees and no intention of hiring other employees. In this way, they fit somewhere between the traditional business owner and gig worker. (Solopreneurs may still pay people for their services on a contract or as-needed basis).
Solopreneurs can operate under different business entities. Two common entities that solopreneurs form are single-member limited liability companies (LLCs) and S corporations (or S Corps). Each entity has its own tax implications and different liability protection for owners.
Solopreneur vs. entrepreneur: What are the key differences?
Solopreneurs and entrepreneurs are not the same thing. Here are the key differences between the two:
Entrepreneurs hire employees; solopreneurs don’t
Entrepreneurs hire a team of employees to work under and alongside them while solopreneurs take on work that they can perform independently or with the help of contract service providers. Many entrepreneurs start as solopreneurs and build their way up.
Solopreneurs tend to take on less financial risk than entrepreneurs
The startup costs for solopreneurs can be less than those for entrepreneurs because they don’t have to spend money finding, hiring, and paying full-time employees.
Costs to start a solopreneur journey may vary by industry and focus. Professionals in web development and other digital services can start with just a computer, while goods providers may need to purchase materials for production and pay for shipments and delivery.
Solopreneurs are responsible for all aspects of a business
Solopreneurs operate as a team of one and take on a wider range of basic business tasks than entrepreneurs, including production, administrative chores, financial management, marketing, PR, and more. They can work around hiring employees and delegate tasks to contract workers as the business grows. Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, build teams of employees that manage each of those departments.
Pros and cons of being a solopreneur
Solopreneurship has pluses and minuses, and anyone who is thinking about pursuing it should consider both.
Pros of being a solopreneur
- Potential for higher salary. You set your own pay and if your venture flourishes you can pay yourself more than you might make working for an employer.
- Flexibility. You don’t have a boss to report to, so your schedule is up to you.
- You’re not responsible for anyone else’s career. In a partnership, both founders must help the other succeed. In a business with employees, you have an entire team that relies on you for their livelihood.
- Ability to work on a variety of projects. Independent entrepreneurs can quickly pivot within or outside their current niche. For example, a freelance graphic designer who serves financial businesses may also work for tech companies.
Cons of being a solopreneur
- Potential for lower earnings. The startup failure rate is high and there is the risk that you won’t earn enough money to stay in business or live on.
- Potential for more stress and longer hours. Managing how much work you can take on without getting overloaded takes self-awareness and practice. This can lead to higher stress levels and blurred work-life boundaries, because finding a balance is challenging.
- Tedious work. If you’re doing all the work that comes with managing a solopreneurship, you might have to shoulder time-consuming tasks that don’t interest you, such as administrative chores or bookkeeping.
How to be a successful solopreneur
There are many ways to make your solopreneurship thrive and even become a huge success, but some steps are essential. These include:
- Identify a market gap and set business goals. To succeed in business, you have to offer something that people want or need.
- Decide on a business model. You must determine actionable ways to deliver your goods or services, whether online with an ecommerce business or a brick-and-mortar location.
- Stay on top of your finances. Solopreneurs deal with their own paperwork come tax time. They must pay quarterly estimated taxes as needed, as well as bills, and manage their cash flow so that expenses don’t exceed revenue.
- Find support. This can be through social media groups, solopreneur-friendly community platforms, or in-person coworking or professional environments.
- Be efficient. This can include using emerging technologies like automation and AI, doing similar or related tasks on certain days, and working at times of the day when you’re most alert and focused.
- Education. You’re not improving if you’re not learning. Continue educating yourself, even when you’re no longer a startup.
Solopreneur business ideas
You can be a solopreneur in all kinds of jobs. Here are some solopreneur ideas:
- Selling products someone else makes (a business known as dropshipping)
- Selling craft goods you make yourself
- Digital content creator
- Graphic designer
- Home repair
- Event planner
- Web designer
- Floral designer
- Virtual assistant
- Freelance writer
- Podcast producer
- Software developer
- Tutor or coach
- Pet groomer or caretaker
- Vintage furniture or clothing store
- Baker (to supply other businesses with baked goods)
- Marketing agency
This list is, of course, far from complete. Think outside of the box and you may be surprised how the world responds.
Be a solopreneur FAQ
Is a freelancer a solopreneur?
A freelancer can be a solopreneur, but a solopreneur isn’t necessarily a freelancer. A freelancer works on specific jobs or assignments and is paid when they’re finished. A solopreneur who isn’t a freelancer might run a business selling goods or services. In either case, however, both act as their own boss.
How do solopreneurs succeed in a competitive market?
Solopreneurs succeed in a competitive market by identifying profitable market gaps for a good or service, staying up to date on their finances, finding support, staying efficient, and continually learning.
What qualities do solopreneurs typically need?
Above all, a solopreneur must accept that no one else is responsible for their success or failure. Solopreneurs also need to be self-motivated, versatile, and determined.