You’re scrambling to get your expenses paid on time. As you peruse your budget, you notice the sales column in your spreadsheet.
So, you hurry over to another screen on your laptop to check your latest revenue stats.
Oh, but wait -- then you realize your inbox needs some attention with three new urgent customer inquiries.
Speaking of customers, you realize you need more of them. What’s on your social media slate today and what time is it?
Yes, running your powerhouse of one can be overwhelming with you -- and only you -- having to do everything on your own.
But knowing that time is among your most valuable assets, there are ways you to scale your revenue and generate more income without working horrendously long weeks.
It all comes down to scaling your business and productizing with digital downloads.
Today, we’ll take you through everything you need to know to be the most successful solopreneur you can be, including the tools, timing, and benefits of running your own show.
Before we do that, however, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page.
What is a solopreneur?
A solopreneur is an entrepreneur who chooses to set up, run, and work on their business alone over the long term. Solopreneurs are ultimately responsible for the success or failure of their small business and tend to execute nearly all of the work themselves.
This small business sector is expansive with 30.2 million small businesses reported in 2018.
As a solopreneur who manages a small business, it’s typical to run a sole proprietorship and work from home.
Three main differences between a solopreneur and entrepreneur are:
#1. Solopreneurs are not in it for team growth
Solopreneurs are in no rush to grow a team, but rather focus on growing their business to enjoy a life of financial and time freedom. In other words, they’re not interested in giving birth to an empire.
#2. Solopreneurs normally pursue one business focus
Solopreneurs typically stick to one passion project over the long term. Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, tend to wait for an exit strategy or buyout and then move on to other ventures.
#3. Solopreneurs do not rely on delegation
Entrepreneurs usually delegate tasks to a team as they network and grow. Solopreneurs, conversely, execute the revenue-generating work themselves regardless of scale.
That’s not to say solopreneurs don’t ever delegate. Sure, if they’re in a crunch and need an extra hand, hiring a freelancer to close the gap is not uncommon. However, they don’t rely on delegation.
Reuven Lerner is a prime example of someone who turned his industry expertise as a software engineer and trainer into a sustainable solopreneur business.
Due to productizing, he’s able to leverage his time to pursue other audience-building projects that fuel his business while his business ramps up.
As an example, Reuven runs a podcast on DevChat.tv, Freelancers’ Show, which helps drive more leads to his solopreneur business.
If he wasn’t productizing, on the other hand, and instead put his chips into a high-maintenance revenue channel like advertising, he’d have to sacrifice his flying-solo status or go into serious risk of burnout to achieve the same growth levels and income.
Because he isn’t looking for a team, stays in his education lane, and doesn’t rely on delegation, Reuven is the perfect example of a successful solopreneur.
Want to follow in his footsteps? Me too. Now that you’re clear on the difference between a solopreneur and entrepreneur, let’s dig into the benefits of starting a small business as a solopreneur.
Why start a small business and become a solopreneur?
Reason #1. You get to keep most of your profits
Because you don’t have the standard overhead costs of running a team-based business -- like office rental space, team member salaries (and their benefits), and et cetera -- your expenses as a solopreneur are minimal, and you get to keep the majority of your profits.
Wondering how much revenue you can make with your small business?
Home-based businesses generate $427 billion in total annual revenue with 20% of these small businesses making between $100,000 and $200,000 per year.
The best part about home-based businesses, however, is this:
Launching a home-based small business doesn’t require much start-up capital. 44% of businesses start with an investment below $5,000.
As you can (hopefully) see at this point, there’s potential for a lot of money to be made -- and kept -- as a solopreneur, but keeping the lion’s share of your profits isn’t the only reason to be a solopreneur.
Reason #2. You have the autonomy to make big decisions
When you run your own business, the only person you have to answer to you is yourself. You have full autonomy to make decisions and pivot your business as you see fit.
(Pivoting refers to changing the direction of your business strategy as a way to significantly improve your growth, if you’ve never heard the term before.)
Altering the course of your business can transform your profits quite truly overnight. Pivoting incorrectly, on the other hand, can run your business into the ground. Nonetheless, 7% of startup owners regret not doing it when they needed to.
Freedom and autonomy can be a heavy responsibility to bear, but they are both, I think we can all agree, worthy of enduring.
Fortunately, enduring is easier than it might seem. This brings us to our final reason to become a solopreneur.
Reason #3. It makes you happier
Creating time and financial freedom for yourself over the long term ultimately makes you happier.
Sound fluffy to you?
Maybe this will convince you -- more than 70% of small business owners ranked their happiness level above five (on a scale out of 10) with 37% rating their happiness level at a 10.
What’s my point? It’s this -- the autonomy and flexibility to create your own work-life balance provide an opportunity for satisfaction that can be harder to come by in a typical corporate 9-5 job.
Justin Jackson, who runs a podcast, online courses, membership site, and blog -- all on a subject related to his passion of supporting developers -- exemplifies the ideal solopreneur life and its happy rewards.
After all, Justin is able to scale one business project and leverage his time to move on to another related goal, all while supporting his same growing audience within his niche market.
Curious about where other solopreneurs fit into the business world? Then you’re going to love our next section.
What types of business do solopreneurs run?
You can run your own small business with a wide range of business types ranging from selling your services as a freelancer to offering products related to your passions. Some typical businesses that solopreneurs run include:
- Freelancing services - In the US alone there are 57.3 million freelancers, a category of workers that are expected to become the majority by 2027.
- Consulting services - Whether it’s social media, strategy, leadership, management, or marketing, leveraging your expertise to help clients as a consultant is another popular solopreneur choice.
The US management consulting services market alone is expected to reach $87 billion by 2025.
- Ecommerce - Retail ecommerce sales are expected to grow to $4.88 billion in 2021. Consumers are used to shopping online for goods and services, and that demographic is only going to grow, so it’s no surprise that solopreneurs love this avenue, too.
Solopreneurs work in every field and come from every walk of life. The only thing they have in common -- outside of being a one woman (or man) megalith -- is that they all arrive at a point where they’re ready to scale their business.
How do they, and moreover, how do you kickstart that growth as a solopreneur, you ask?
I’m so glad you did.
How to scale your business as a solopreneur
#1. Uplift your revenue with online courses
Creating and selling an online course that’s based on your area of expertise is a great way to scale your small business.
A prime example is how Karen Delgado productized her business by selling her Location Independent Entrepreneur online course, which teaches entrepreneurs to create businesses from anywhere in the world.
However, if creating an online course isn’t the route for you, you may prefer our next suggestion.
#2. Grow your bank balance with membership sites
Creating a membership site is a great way to serve more people while still maintaining a one-person show. You can create exclusive content and charge a membership fee to give customers access to your material.
For instance, solopreneur Alecia May offers her members insider tips on how to successfully run business events through her The Eventristry Insiders Membership site.
What’s the secret to running a successful membership site as a solopreneur? Choosing and validating your idea carefully. After that, it's all about responding to customer feedback and maintaining your business growth.