The modern business environment offers multiple paths to success, from managing large teams and scaling to a global level to maximizing creative potential through flexibility and autonomy. The latter has recently crystallized into the concept of solopreneur, or someone who is solely responsible for the business. If you are among those who prefer going solo – there are a couple of things you should keep in mind to make it a positive experience.
Solopreneurs and Entrepreneurs: Any Difference?
As the name itself stems from the word “entrepreneur,” some overlap is inevitable. Moreover, the current business environment is so flexible that lines between mavericks who run the entire operation single-handedly and organizations with huge distributed networks are blurry. Nevertheless, solopreneur endeavors usually share certain characteristics that distinguish them from other types of entrepreneurship. These traits fall under four categories:
So, in broad strokes, a solopreneur is someone who 1) runs most, if not all, of the business operations, 2) is free to make decisions on the direction taken by the enterprise, 3) is mostly committed to the larger idea rather than revenue, and 4) is probably not interested in establishing a major company.
Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, usually have teams to 1) delegate responsibilities and 2) discuss decisions with, while their enterprise is designed to 3) be acquired by a larger entity and/or 4) scale up over time. Simply put, a solopreneur is at the extreme end of the independence scale.
What’s Awesome About Going Solo?
People choose the solopreneur path for different reasons. Some are attracted by the flexibility and independence it offers while others consider it a suitable business model for monetizing their talent. In any case, there are many advantages of managing the enterprise single-handedly.
The most obvious benefit of being the only person behind the business is the degree of control it offers over the entire thing. As a founder and owner, you can take your company wherever you want, which opens up tremendous potential for creativity and innovation.
This one is especially relevant for those who find working under the corporate rules restrictive and counterproductive. Many small businesses, from manufacturing artisan items to selling services online, actually require a certain degree of creative freedom in order to meet customer expectations. This makes solopreneur ‘s career particularly attractive to millennials, who consider work/life balance a key aspect of work.
Seeing the Big Picture
As a solopreneur, you essentially see through the entirety of business processes. Not only does it provide a strategic perspective, but it also allows you to address issues quickly and effectively. This covers everything from customer feedback to productivity drops, giving solopreneurs unparalleled responsiveness and the level of personalization that large companies cannot even dream about.
Harness the Power of Outsourcing
Successful solopreneurs have one thing in common — the ability to fully control the available resources and make adequate decisions regarding them. A solopreneur controls everything and this means that it is possible to easily get distracted by smaller tasks while forgetting about the bigger challenges and vice versa.
That’s why smart solopreneurs outsource some activities that require constant attention to keep an eye on other important things. This is especially true to marketing and communications as running a business and maintaining focus on everything is nearly impossible. Outsourcing is a viable solution that can take off pressure while ensuring that your processes will be handled by professionals.
Profits are Yours to Keep
Entrepreneurs need to hire and manage employees to keep their operations afloat. Additional human resources amount to considerable expenses that eat up a good chunk of revenue. Solopreneurs can also hire contractors to perform certain tasks, but they do not need to bother to keep the employees busy all the time. Aside from increasing profits, this aspect actually provides additional motivation to some people, who find the idea of being in control of their revenue streams empowering.
Sounds Great! Any Downsides?
As one might expect, despite all the benefits, running a business solo is challenging. In fact, many of the advantages mentioned above come with downsides attached to them. For instance, complete control over a business also means complete responsibility for its success and leaves little tolerance for mistakes. In the same way, the flexibility of self-employment only works for those with enough discipline to stay productive. So, to prepare fully for the solo experience, take the following points into account:
Business is Complicated
Regardless of the scope of your business, the complexity will increase once you go professional and will only grow from there. Even for a one-person operation, there are many things that can go wrong:
- Order processing
- Communication with customers
- Accounting and reporting
- Marketing strategy
- Supply chain issues
- Legal and regulatory setbacks
- Manual errors
Even when you are skillful enough to keep every little detail in check, the complexity eventually becomes a hindrance sufficient to disrupt your efforts. Fortunately, many of the issues can be addressed with business automation solutions, so if you intend to grow beyond a pet project, do consider investing in one.
Customer Service is Key
Traditionally, marketing and customer service departments had little to no connection. However, the reality is different as customer experience is now the main determinant of brand loyalty, even surpassing actual quality of a product or service. No matter how unique your offer is, it is only a part of the customer experience. This is especially true for small businesses in which every client literally makes a difference.
So, imagine running your own small business and being proud of your customer service! However, marketing is the channel that allows potential consumers to get to know about the existence of your company and its amazing service. Proper marketing channels that are highly responsive are already a part of customer service — today, people expect a swift response from a company that they mention in social media. So, a well-developed marketing strategy that emphasizes communication and, more importantly, an individual approach to the client is the first step in creating a vision of excellent customer service.
The Bottom Line
Being a solopreneur is restrictive: there is only so much one person can do, and the pressure of complete responsibility makes it even harder. However, it is also liberating: after all, it is up to you to decide on the path your business should take and, in the end, credit for every achievement is also yours. One thing to remember, though, is that a single-handed enterprise is unforgiving to errors, so be sure to put your inspiring vision and creative autonomy to good use.