What is a Solopreneur?
Merriam-Webster’s definition of a solopreneur states: “one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise without the help of a partner.” While it is clear that the word is a blend of “solo” and “entrepreneur,” Merriam-Webster does not explain what is unique about a solopreneur versus entrepreneurs or freelancers—which usually do not include partners either.
Although Webster’s definition highlights the lack of a partner, in practice, “solopreneurship describes an ambitious person who monetizes their talents and skills while creating a lifestyle of freedom and grace.” (Deborah S. Nelson, Author of Once Upon a Vision)
Who Can Be a Solo Entrepreneur?
Almost anyone. Have you ever heard the expression, “Don’t quit your day job?” Well, I say ignore it … because if you wish to become your own boss, this is now possible for almost anyone.
Once upon a time, this statement would be pie in the sky. First of all, most companies were “brick and mortar” and required a high initial investment. The cost of entry was huge and daunting—often requiring a sizeable bank loan and unavailable to the average person.
This article will explain the positives of starting your own income stream and working from home. When I started as a solo entrepreneur it was an uphill battle. Today, this goal is quite simple as well as doable for nearly anyone.
When is the Best Time to Become a Solopreneur?
When I started down the path of entrepreneurship, I faced many challenges. First of all, as one of America’s first home-based businesses, the approval of potential clients, friends, and family was dismal. People judged, but I overcame harsh criticism with my professional dress and demeanor. Today, however, many conditions have developed to make solopreneurship easy.
1. Covid lockdowns made it acceptable to conduct business from home
2. Applications such as Zoom provide platforms to communicate with clients and team members
3. Social media has given people an opportunity to network and land clients from their home
4. A website presence gives the entrepreneur a credible location with low overhead
5. Cell phone plans and unlimited calling have eliminated prohibitively expensive phone bills
Major expenses and obstacles have been removed in the past 20 years which makes entrepreneurship fun and doable. However, please consider the following aspects which make success easier.
What is the Entrepreneurial Personality?
If you are considering taking the leap, check yourself honestly to see if you have what it takes:
1. Willingness to learn new skills—bookkeeping, marketing, sales, customer service, website design, and other services you may not want to purchase.
2. Persistence—do you exhibit a never give up attitude to push through challenging times?
3. Ability to be creative, use existing resources, and keep your overhead low.
4. Concentration, organizational skills, and focus.
5. Be a boss—learn how to say “no” and set limits with workers and clients.
6. Work smart and make the best use of your time.
7. Take care of yourself and your health.
How Do I Get Money to Become a Solo Entrepreneur?
We’ve all heard that it takes money to make money—but I contend that entrepreneurship is intended to earn and attract money. In some ways, thinking you need money to start could be a roadblock. I have helped many people start their solo income streams with little money. I bought my daughter a computer and helped her move into a live-work studio for less than $2,500. She sold one of her cameras and instead rented cameras for each job. She also started renting her live-work studio to other photographers for initial cash flow while building her portfolio and client base. Today, 20 years later, she is a highly successful celebrity photographer commanding many times that amount for her day rate.
How Can I Start Creative Solopreneurship with No Money?
The truth is, if you do not have money, you simply need to organize a few tools and a way to leverage your resources. Entrepreneurship in its purest form is not about spending money—it is about creating money. You invest time, resources, and passion—sweat equity. Keep that in mind as you proceed. Obviously, with a year’s worth of income and tools needed, the journey might be smoother. However, for many people, this is not a possibility—nor required.
My first self-employment started with a computer and a fax in my basement office after being laid off from a job and on unemployment. I decided to live with a small dent in my car, and instead, I used the insurance money to set up my basement office. At the time, jobs were nearly impossible to land, and instead of going on 50 job interviews, I decided to prospect 50 clients for my small ad agency. It worked. The client income I earned was subtracted from the unemployment salary—which stretched my allowance for 18 months. When my unemployment ran dry, I had already accumulated a base of steady clients. Work with what you have.
What Line of Work Will I Do as a Solo Entrepreneur?
Selecting the right offering is key to starting your own enterprise. Since this might not be obvious at first, ask yourself the following introspective questions:
1. What are my skills and talents?
2. What skills and talents would I like to develop?
3. Do I have a connection base in a certain industry?
4. What do I crave and dream to do?
5. What are related fields to what I love?
Many of us have a dream to be a rock ‘n’ roll musician, famous athlete, successful artist, or rich actor. These are common cherished dreams that only a tiny percentage achieve. However, that does not imply you will not succeed. Yet, sometimes the easiest way to enter a competitive field is through the side door. Consider spin-off professions such as sound engineer, coaching sports and dance, or an art gallery. Use your passion to hone skills where you need to excel in the space of your passion. You will meet connected people in your industry. Sooner or later, you’ll find your open door. Meanwhile, you can hone your skills and learn the industry. Be smart and realistic when making your dreams come true. I always wanted to be a writer, but this did not happen overnight. Meanwhile, I was working in printing and publishing. It was great training, and 20 years later, I became a published author. Many roads to creative entrepreneurship are as unique as the people walking their talk.
What is an Entrepreneurial Coach?
This is a person who has breathed and lived the entrepreneurial lifestyle and knows how to organize and communicate the process well. Such a person can help you avoid many pitfalls and can help you succeed. Before you quit your day job, and while you still have some regular cash flow, I advise the following.
1. Pay off any nagging debt such as credit cards or student loans, if possible.
2. Hire an entrepreneurial coach and get specialized certifications or training.
3. Write a book on your area of expertise and use print-on-demand to publish.
4. Create a vision plan for your new lifestyle as a solo entrepreneur.
5. While you are still working, use dependable cash flow to buy equipment such as a laptop, set up a home office, and purchase software you might need for your industry.
Is a Business Plan Necessary to Become a Solopreneur?
Some business coaches advocate making a “business plan.” In my opinion, that is often too intimidating—especially for creative people. I suggest making a vision plan that will encompass your visualization of a new lifestyle. I have written a text and workbook entitled Once Upon a Vision, with a guideline for creating a published vision book. This process is incredibly fun and will draw your dream toward you.
Deborah S. Nelson has been a solopreneur for 30 years and is an entrepreneurial, publishing, and branding coach. Do not let financial obstacles stop you from creating income streams. You may sign up for a half-hour complimentary coaching session with Ms. Nelson.