If the solopreneur bug is catching you too, here’s a guide to give you the complete lowdown on joining the tribe.
What is a “solopreneur”? It means “a single-person business”, lean and mean, with no employees. You can start and run a solopreneur business on a shoestring budget, and then take all the money you earn as profit for yourself. There were 41.8 million solopreneurs by 2018, contributing over $1.3 trillion to the US economy. By 2025, it is forecasted that we’ll have 45.6 million solopreneurs. On average, it is believed, nearly 15%-20% of full-time solopreneurs are already millionaires, or inching close.
- VIDEO: Joshua Lisec’s compelling TED Talk on solopreneurship
(Must watch: 17:36 minutes)
- What is a solopreneur? What is the real meaning of solopreneur?
- Is solopreneur a real word? What is its origin?
- How do you pronounce and spell solopreneur?
- Is there another word for solopreneur? Any synonyms or antonyms?
- What are some key solopreneur statistics?
- How many solopreneurs are there?
- How are solopreneurs affected by post-Covid?
- What myths on solopreneurship have to be blown away?
- What ideas are gaining among solopreneurs?
- Where is the market for solopreneurs growing?
- How are solopreneurs different from the self-employed or freelancers?
- How many types of solopreneurs are there?
- What are the key characteristics of solopreneurs?
- What are the pros and cons of solopreneurs?
- How can solopreneurs improve their chances of success?
- How can solopreneurs deal with isolation, depression, burnout?
- How do you become a solopreneur and startup business?
- What business model works for online solopreneurs?
- What are the key elements of solopreneur branding?
- What monetizing opportunities exist for solopreneurs?
- What are the best business ideas for solopreneurs?
- Can you get venture capital, funding and loans for solopreneur businesses?
- How can solopreneurs improve their productivity?
- What ideal skills does a solopreneur need?
- What is the best mindset for a solopreneur to have?
- How can automation, outsourcing and networking help solopreneurs?
- What are some great examples of solopreneur millionaires?
- What are some best books for solopreneurs?
- What are some best courses for solopreneurs?
- What are some best blogs for solopreneurs?
- What are some best project management tools for solopreneurs?
- What are some best CRM tools for solopreneurs?
- What are some best outsourcing platforms for solopreneurs?
1. VIDEO: Joshua Lisec’s compelling TED Talk on solopreneurship (Must watch: 17:36 minutes)
This incredibly-impactful TED Talk on solopreneurship was given by Joshua Lisec in 2018, when the recession had hit people hard – but not yet the Covid-19 pandemic. Hear how much truer his words are now, when we are in doubly-distressing times.
Solopreneurship trumps as the easiest, and probably only, way out for most of us now. Watch this video, and then read on to see how to join the one-person business tribe – to not just survive, but thrive.
2. What is a solopreneur? What is the real meaning of solopreneur?
A “solopreneur” is best defined as an entrepreneur – a business owner – who is the sole person in his business. He is both the Owner/CEO and the Chief Bottle Washer of his company. In other words, he’s the boss and the lone worker. No one else works in his business.
If you too own a business, and wear all the hats that other people would have, if you had hired them, you too are a solopreneur. You must know enough to do all the jobs your business requires, and you must prefer to do it all yourself, without any other employees. With that mindset, you could call yourself a solopreneur.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary describes “solopreneur” as “one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise without the help of a partner: a solo entrepreneur”.
This definition seems to suggest that a solopreneur works alone as the boss without a partner in the business. But the real meaning of solopreneur, as it understood by the world in general now, is that a solopreneur prefers neither a partner nor even an employee in his business.
Notice here, that a solopreneur may prefer not to hire employees … but that does not mean he won’t hire freelancers, contractors, or consultants, from time to time, for certain projects he can’t handle. He just prefers not to have anyone on his payroll.
3. Is solopreneur a real word? What is its origin?
The word “solopreneur” is a real word. It now regularly finds a place in the world’s best dictionaries. It’s a coined word created from a combination of the word “solo” (meaning alone) and “preneur” (pinched from the tail-end of the word “entrepreneur” meaning businessperson).
The Macmillan Dictionary gives us a bit more of the context of the possible origin of the word “solopreneur”. It says:
“The term solopreneur is of course a blend of the adjective solo meaning ‘done by one person alone’ and the noun entrepreneur, which refers to someone who starts their own business and is good at spotting and securing the best business opportunities. The word solopreneur first began to appear in 2010, gaining ground partly by websites dedicated to the concept and by its use in social media (e.g. as a Twitter hashtag).”
4. How do you pronounce and spell solopreneur?
Listen to the audio file below for a clear pronunciation of the word “solopreneur”.
The right spelling of spelling of “solopreneur” is the way we’ve spelt it here. Typical misspellings we’ve come across are “solo-preneur” (never hyphenate the word), “solo preneur” (not to be used as two separate words), “solopreneure”, “soloprenure”, or “soloprenner”.
5. Is there another word for solopreneur? Any synonyms or antonyms?
The nearest we’ve ever come to a word as close to solopreneur as possible is from Dan Tully, a freelancer from Australia, who refers to himself as “lonepreneur”.
We’ve never come across any other synonym for solopreneur. Or an antonym either. Not in any Thesaurus. At best, people refer to “businessman” or “businesswoman” in the singular, but even that doesn’t suggest the person is the only person in his or her business.
6. What are some key solopreneur statistics?
Elaine Pofeldt wrote a seminal book in 2018 titled “The Million Dollar One Person Business”. Her research into leading business trend reports at the time were strongly pointing to a surge in interest in “solopreneurship”. The only issue was that the word “solopreneurship” had not yet taken root, and so different leading reports were identifying solopreneur businesses by names like “non-employer firms” or “independent workers” or the “gig economy”.
Here are some interesting numbers on solopreneur businesses that Elaine Pofeldt gathered from various reports:
- According to the US Census Bureau, in 2015 there were 35,584 “nonemployer firms” (those that do not employ anyone other than the owners) that brought in $1 million to $2,499,999 in annual revenue. Of these, about 2,090 businesses earned between $2.5 million to $4.99 million, and 355 businesses brought in $5 million or more. Interestingly, there were very large numbers of smaller firms within hitting distance of the $1 million mark.
- 258,148 firms brought in $500,000 to $999,999.
- 584,586 generated $250,000 to $499,999 in revenue.
- 1,861,656 businesses brought in $100,000 to $249,999.
- The State of Independence in America 2017 report by MBO Partners counted 16.2 million full-time “independent workers” in the United States. A substantial 3.2 million people among them earned more than $100,000 in 2017, up 4.9% from 2016 alone. MBO Partners predicted that by 2022 the number would hit 47.6 million. That would account for nearly 38% of all workers.
- The U.S. Small Business Administration GEM’s Women’s Entrepreneurship Report found that across the globe, solopreneur women formed 37.6% of all entrepreneurial activity, while male solopreneurs formed 27.8% of the total. However, in Noth America, male solopreneurs added up to 32% of total entrepreneurial activity, compared to women, who accounted for nearly 29%. Generally speaking, the richer the country, the more male solopreneurs influenced total entrepreneurial activity.
7. How many solopreneurs are there?
At the last count (around beginning 2019), most experts believed there were already 41.8 million people who identified themselves as a one-person company, and they contributed over $1.3 trillion to the United States economy. This was the figure given by the MBO Partners State of Independence Report then.
The same report for 2020 now says that after a small dip in 2020 (after Covid-19) to 38.2 million, we could be looking ahead five years to 2025, when numbers will rise to 45.6 million.
8. How are solopreneurs affected by post-Covid?
There are two schools of thought visible from recent research.
- Some reports see that that overall Covid-19 has shrunk economies and put most people out of business – and so solopreneur businesses too much have taken a proportional hit.
- On the other hand, many of us who chose to be solopreneurs, out of a liking for the lifestyle, also see that the pandemic and economic recession has propelled several people who have lost jobs to turn towards “enforced” online solopreneurship.
A solopreneur business online is probably the best-earning opportunity now, that can be started and run at the least-cost.
9. What myths on solopreneurship have to be blown away?
Despite the spectacular rise of the “solopreneurs” as important players in any market, there are three myths that still make people (including some solopreneurs themselves) see their businesses as “small businesses”. Here are the myths that need to be blown away:
Myth 1: A solopreneur business is small. It can’t match the brand eminence of a large company.
Truth: This myth comes from the popular perception that all solopreneur businesses are owned either by “mompreneurs” or “homepreneurs” or “self-designated-presidents”. If solopreneurs think of themselves in such self-limiting ways, that is all they would ever be. Any solopreneur can be as big a brand as his or her biggest dreams will allow. There are tons of multi-millionaire solopreneurs out there now who’ve broken the glass ceilings, and are challenging large, lumbering companies by being lean and mean.
Myth 2: When a solopreneur business grows, it will become a huge company and employ many.
Truth: The aim of starting as a solopreneur business is not always to grow sideways and large with time. In fact, if you’ve tasted the satisfaction of going solo and working on your own terms, you can eternally have nobody to answer to, and still make millions and billions. Why would you trade it all in to acquire more “assets” that feel like millstones around your neck? A solopreneur can – and perhaps should – aim to grow narrow and tall, and not spread wide, to really succeed.
Myth 3: All solopreneurs are essentially introverts, and extroverts will hate the solopreneur life.
Truth: We have all got to get rid of the old definitions of introversion and extroversion. Introverts are just those who have more energy for work when they are alone, versus extroverts who have more energy when they work along with others. It’s about energy levels, and not inhibitions. There are really no pure introverts or extroverts. Everybody will succeed with their own formula. Quiet entrepreneurs will impress some customers, while loud entrepreneurs will impress other customers. There are enough customers to go around, for all of us in business.
10. What ideas are gaining among solopreneurs?
Solopreneurs are not yet as closely bound as some other groups of entrepreneurs, because many of them belong to different niches. But three trends are visible in the evolution of solopreneurs:
- Solopreneurs are budgeting and planning more efficiently for outsource recruitment. On content marketing (especially blogging), previously the choice to outsource used to be the result of on-the-fly, ill-planned, or scrambled decision-making. It’s no longer so.
- A lot of solopreneurs are buying a lot of project management and automation tools. There is a palpable need now to streamline workflows and bring discipline into their models of work.
- There is a growing reciprocity between solopreneurs who can mutually help with each other’s businesses. Friendships are made on social media, where skill-exchanges take place, formally or informally.
However, all this is still nascent, and a formal structure of “solopreneur-help-solopreneur” is not yet there. This is where we hope our site will step in as the a common learning, bonding, sharing space, and as a alliance for mutual gain.
11. Where is the market for solopreneurs growing?
Again, according to Elaine Pofeldt, solopreneur businesses that hit the million-dollar range typically fall into six categories:
- Informational content creation
- Professional services and creative businesses, such as marketing firms, public speaking businesses, and consultancies
- Personal services firms, offering expertise such as fitness coaching
- Real estate
12. How are solopreneurs different from entrepreneurs, the self-employed, or freelancers?
Increasingly, the lines are blurring between these categories of people. The representation of yourself as “a person who does work for others” is always less powerful-sounding than projecting yourself as a “solopreneur” – a businessperson. Therefore, more self-employed professionals and freelancers are calling themselves “solopreneurs”, believing that they are better respected by clients for their weight and authority, and are also better paid.
That said, here are the differences:
a. Solopreneurs vs entrepreneurs?
While solopreneurs prefer to be both owners and the lone workers in their businesses, entrepreneurs are open to being the owners and hiring employees into their businesses. Other differences include these:
- Solopreneurs are probably workers who may have become bosses of their businesses. They are entirely comfortable doing their work and learning the skills of management. Whereas, entrepreneurs are essentially managers who prefer getting work done by others.
- A solopreneur may be more attached to a business, where his own name is the brand name, and may not be looking for a buyout. An entrepreneur may be open to the sale of his business at some point.
- A solopreneur’s workplace is often his laptop, tablet, or mobile. He can work from home, from the park bench, or at a cafe table. An entrepreneur may be more particular that his business must have a “proper” address.
- The form of business that a solopreneur chooses may often just be a solo-proprietorship by default. He may not even give it much thought. An entrepreneur may think through this choice more carefully, especially if he’s looking for scalability, size, partners, risk management, and venture funding, down the line.
b. Solopreneurs vs self-employed?
The main difference between solopreneurs and the self-employed is this: a lot of professionals (for instance, like chartered accountants, lawyers, or eco-engineers) may count themselves as self-employed if they see themselves as “independent people” working for clients … but they would describe themselves more as solopreneurs if they see themselves as “business people” than as “independent self-employed professionals”. The distinction is more in their minds on whether they project themselves as professionals or as a business.
c. Solopreneurs vs freelancers?
The main difference between solopreneurs and freelancers (or gig-workers) is this: as with the self-employed, “gig workers” or “freelancers” too may see themselves as “people” doing project work for others, than as “businesspeople”.
Notice here, that the main difference between a “freelancer” and a “self-employed professional” is in the type of work done. While freelancers typically do “project work” to briefs given by clients, the self-employed professional may be a person of greater subject authority, and may well advise clients as well as and help with project tasks.
13. How many types of solopreneurs are there?
There are so many solopreneurs in business now, that we have different types of solopreneurs. Your skills, motivations and preferences will dictate which broad type you belong to … here are some of 20 of them:
- CausePreneurs – the ones motivated by a social cause to become solopreneur-evangelists.
- RetiredPreneurs – the older generation that’s still ready for more life via a solo business.
- StudentPreneurs – those college-going millennnials who’ve turned solopreneurs.
- DadPreneurs – fathers who may be juggling parenting and solopreneuring simultaneously.
- HomePreneurs – those enamored of a home-office and a cozy-pajamas workstyle.
- GigPreneurs – all those freelancers who have made mini-brands of themselves.
- SidePreneurs – those with jobs, who burn the midnight oil on a side solo business.
- AuthorPreneurs – those who write one book after another, and keep track of royalties.
- ProPreneurs – erstwhile professionals of all sorts who have chucked their jobs to go solo.
- TravelPreneurs – those who write on travel from their hammocks on distant beaches.
- InfoPreneurs – people who convert their own knowledge into info products.
- TeacherPreneurs – those people who know how to teach anything they know to others.
- EcoPreneurs – those who sell green products and services with personal conviction.
- HealthPreneurs – includes doctorpreneurs, fitnesspreneurs, yogapreneurs and their ilk.
- CoPreneurs – those who tie up with other solopreneurs for reciprocal services.
- SerialPreneurs – those who create and sell solo businesses, one after another.
- BlogPreneurs – those who make blogging their main source of earning.
- KidPreneurs – those genius kids that start solo online businesses.
- Multipreneurs – those who run multiple solo businesses at once.
- Wantrepreneurs – the ones who want to start solo, but can never take that first step.
14. What are the key characteristics of solopreneurs?
From my own experience as a solopreneur, I’d count 10 characteristics that predominate in solopreneurs:
- A solopreneur business is a single-person business. Not just one where there is only one owner, but that business owner is also the lone employee in that business.
- What attracts a person to become an online solopreneur is the potential to startup and run such a business, for a very long time, on nothing more than a shoestring budget.
- The owner may be an expert at some field that he builds the business around. But he also runs all parts of the business himself, wearing all the many hats that other people may have worn, if he had hired them.
- He does all the functions – the accounts, the marketing, the sales, the content creation for products and services, the eCommerce, and the customer management.
- He makes the goals, sets the rules and values of the business, and decides its business model and growth plan.
- He also decides how formal or informal his workplace should be. Where he works from and what he wears to work are entirely up to his mood.
- He is the epitome of the laptop-lifestyle (nowadays it may also be the mobile-and-tablet lifestyle). His gadgets are his workplace, really, so his work can travel with him.
- He believes in the idea that everybody’s work-life balance should be healthy. He likes to have independence and freedom to succeed in business, in his own way. He decides what success means to him.
- In order to be his own boss, though, he knows he has to be disciplined enough personally, to be productive. So he learns to manage time, money, and effort professionally.
- If he uses all the automation and technology available to him, and doesn’t hire people, he can be highly profitable. Many solopreneurs make between 85%-95% profit.
15. What are the pros and cons of solopreneurs?
We’ve located at least 14 pros and 14 cons of solopreneurship. Here they are for you:
a. The pros of solopreneurship?
- You can soar on your strengths and manage your weaknesses. Strengths are your abilities that consistently produce “positive outcomes”. The secret is to avoid blowing away time trying to fix your weaknesses.
- You can start lean and mean on a close-to-naught budget. Where resources are small, resourcefulness has to be big. So keep your eyes peeled for chances to get by without spending a cent.
- You can gain the expertise you need easily and quickly. The secret to becoming an expert in any niche is to set apart some sacrosanct time for daily reading.
- You can enjoy being your own boss and work on a topic you love. No matter how many other experts exist, there may be few with the exact quirks and passions, hidden talents and skills as you have.
- You can be any type of solopreneur and still succeed. There is no need to be looking beyond one’s own unique expertise to set up shop to sell anything else.
- You can earn passive income streams by productizing your knowledge. If you were to “productize” your knowledge as ebooks or courses or membership sites, your business could handle any number of clients 24X7, and earn even as you sleep.
- You get to keep all the money you can make and often it’s close to 95% profit. The beauty of a solopreneur business is that you can earn less and still profit more.
- You get to deploy automation smartly to reduce work and convert customers. There are some parts of business that not even big teams can successfully do – but automation can.
- You can speedily change your business model to get better results. The marketing word for businesses that can chop-and-change their business model in a cinch is “pivoting”.
- You have freedom and autonomy at work and in life. You decide your ideal income – and go for it. You’re not answerable to any chain of command.
- You can change your mind when you want to. You can be as innovative as you choose and implement ideas rapidly.
- Your work and life can focus on what you love. You can build your business around your life, instead of the other way around.
- You can work at a time and pace that’s best for you. You can work from home, without dressing formally or commuting. You’ll have no annoying coworkers, or pointless meetings, or office politics.
- You can freely experiment when market trends or technologies change. You need no one’s permission to do so. In fact, technology and automation are your best friends.
b. The cons of solopreneurship?
- You may never leave the house and may get “cabin fever”. Especially if you overdo work like a workaholic, it may be to the detriment of the rest of your life.
- You’ll never be off, unless you deliberately schedule holidays or off-work days. Your life’s balance won’t work itself out. You have to make it work.
- There could be no social contact for days together, Mere online socializing won’t be good enough. Physical socializing is very important to human health.
- You have to learn skills you’re not so good at. These could be skills like accounting, marketing, writing, making videos, and many others. Not all are exciting. Some admin work is downright boring.
- You won’t have a sounding board for your ideas. There may be no one whose brains you can pick. Also, without the restraining force of opposite thinking, you may make some unwise, uninformed decisions.
- You have to deal with loneliness, which can be tough. Even introverted solopreneurs need connection. A strategy that successful solopreneurs swear by is working some days at a co-working space with other solopreneurs.
- You’ll have to put up with eternally having uncertain income. Only after a certain level of growth will you be able to sock away some savings to tide over tough times. It’s hard enough for any businessperson – more so for a solopreneur.
- You’ll stay terrified of falling sick. When you fall sick, so will your business. You’ll eternally feel as if your enforced time off will kill your budding business, chase away every potential customer, or set you behind on goals.
- You’ll have to be your own cheerleader when you have wins. There will be no team celebrations of small and big business victories, and even landmark days will feel blah, because it’s never the same sipping champagne all by yourself.
- The workload will never feel like it’s nearing the end. Long hours will have to be spent building a portfolio, building a client base, and building sustainable relationships. Your to-do-list will never look finished and all ticked off.
- The road to success may take its own time and toll on you. It can be very discouraging if you spend many hours, days, or months on your business with no real great return on investment.
- Some of the perks of being in 9-to-5 employment may have to be created by you afresh. Covering your own health insurance, retirement plans, or paid vacations may worry you. If you miss these, you’ll have to provide them for yourself.
- Motivation, energy, and drive won’t happen of their own. Having no boss may result in a loss of accountability to yourself, especially if you are a person used to someone else driving you to schedules and discipline.
- Not having a qualified team may rob you of exhilarating challenge. You may miss having an in-house group who can spur you to go for big ideas. Many solopreneurs say that unless there’s internal challenge, there isn’t much incentive for innovation.
16. How can solopreneurs improve their chances of success?
A few best practices can help solopreneurs maximize their prospects for success:
- Finding yourself some good mentors helps you learn from those who’ve navigated the same water before you, and can show you what to beware of.
- Diversifying your customer base, you can make sure your eggs are all not in the same basket. It’s tough to find other customers when one of them pays heavily, but you must diversify your income streams.
- Joining supportive online communities can be very helpful for exchanging knowledge and information, or for group-brainstorming ideas you are not sure about – in addition to helping break the monotony.
- Building your credit history right from your early days can help you if you are ever strapped for cash. It’s also a great idea to look up the opportunities for personal and health insurance for solopreneur businesses.
- Keeping a legal advisor and a finance advisor within reach can help make sure you are prompt with your compliances. Mistakes in these areas can be costlier than you think, and poor advisors are the costliest items of all for any business.
- There’s no shortcut to reading a lot … from new technology and trends, to knowing where your peers, customers and competition are heading. You don’t need expensive courses or books if you’re just a consistently regular reader online. Put the most important sites you want to read on your RSS feed list.
17. How can solopreneurs deal with isolation, depression, burnout?
Solopreneur Isolation is the first stage of a downward spiral that can affect you if your work-life balance is out of kilter and you are too cut off from other people.
Solopreneur Depression is the second stage of this downward spiral, when the anxiety that your business is not taking off, and money is low, get added to this mix.
Solopreneur Burnout is the third stage that ensnares you in its tentacles when you are trying too hard, against the grain, to succeed, and killing yourself doing so.
In all cases, learn to give success its time. And stay alert to early symptoms of the downward spiral. Loss of mental and physical energy – in other words, loss of mojo and joy in life – are clear indicators (often accompanied by fatigue, nervous debility, and sleep and eating disorders).
There are a few things you can do to try to help yourself before you seek professional help for a malady gone too far. Here they are:
- Recognize the “blue feelings” and respect them.
- Realize your limitations and don’t try to push past them.
- Say “no more” quickly, and don’t wait to see if things get worse.
- Take a break from business – the world will not end if you do.
- Look after your body and mind – they need repair and restoration first.
- If stopping work adds to anxiety, allow yourself to outsource work.
18. How do you become a solopreneur and startup business?
The steps to starting a solopreneur business online are the same as starting any small business. Here are the 15 steps I’d recommend you cover:
- Step 1: Decide your chosen niche … the area or topic of expertise, or passion, you want to become a dominant authority in, even if you’re not one already.
- Step 2: Find your target audiences … look for a small audience you can zero-in on, who have a hunger for your topic, discuss it a lot, and may be willing to pay for products in your niche.
- Step 3: Research your competitors … see who else is close to your niche, or in similar niches, and catering to the same or similar audiences. Rate the competitors from the strongest to the weakest.
- Step 4: Decide your positioning … plan how you will stand differentiated from the competitors in the market and how you will make this difference obvious to your target audiences by your branding, your products and your marketing.
- Step 5: State your business mission and goals … articulate what key values your business will stand for and why, and set your success goals, both as money goals and non-money goals.
- Step 5: Finalize your business model and business plan … set out how your business will aim to make money, how much you plan to earn, and from which income streams you plan to earn now and in the future.
- Step 6: Grab a domain name … if you’re not going to make your own personal name your domain name, see if you can get a .com domain name that best signifies your niche and your difference from competition.
- Step 7: Get a website hosted … I recommend: a site/blog on the WordPress platform, hosted on WP Engine’s world-class webhosting service, with the famous “customizable and mobile-friendly site design themes from Studiopress … all for just $30 per month.
- Step 8: Get your site branding and tagline designed … with hoardes of DIY templates and a range of designers online, it’s easy to get a branding design that commands attention and makes a resounding promise.
- Step 9: Set up your emailing service … I recommend: get a free or starter plan from Mailchimp, the world’s best email service provider for startups, and get an emailing list created.
- Step 11: Get your social media accounts created … for starters, get accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Later you can add YouTube or other social media, so just start with a basic few.
- Step 12: Find a hitlist of key topics and start blogging prolifically … your blogging hitlist should contain topics that are ideal for your business and brand, as well as the main pain-points or need areas of information for your audiences.
- Step 13: When you publish blog posts, excerpt them for social media updates … you should be bringing in traffic to your site not only from your blog posts ranking on Google, but also from the upgates and links you post on social media.
- Step 14: Have a “lead magnet and opt-in form” on your site to capture subscribers … a “lead magnet” is any ebook or small but attractive, free, downloadable resource you offer, in return for people giving you their emails to add to your mailing list.
- Step 15: Keep on blogging and emailing those on your mailing list, till you hit a target threshold of pageviews per month … growing a loyal readership for your blog and building trust in yourself as a solopreneur are the aims. To be able to earn from your business you need a minimum of pageviews per month of steady traffic before you think of anything else. So aim for 1000 pageviews per month, then 5000, then 10000 … till it feels like you’re ready for the next stage of life (i.e. monetizing your business).
19. What business model works for online solopreneurs?
For any online business, not just one started by solopreneurs, the only model that really works is the “inbound content marketing model”.
a. What is “inbound marketing”?
It’s the opposite of the pushy advertising model to get your product messages across. In inbound marketing, you aim to blog a lot, to get people to read your articles in your niche, and to see your expertise and authority. You also demonstrate trustworthiness by your empathy for their pain points, and your solutions, your consistency, and your authenticity in your writings.
As people get to become your fans, followers, subscribers and community of loyal readers, you can then sway their buying choices (of your products or others’ products) by the use of “subtle influencing” tactics. In inbound marketing, you thus attract readers into your fold, gain their trust, and over time, convert them into customers. This is different from outbound marketing that sends cold email blasts, or blares loud and pesky advertising at random people, without building their trust in you first.
b. What is “content marketing”?
Content marketing flows as the action element of the inbound marketing principle. The content you put out, via blog posts, social media updates, or email newsletters, helps activate your strategy of inbound marketing. There are many forms of content you can use – images, text, audio, video – to expose your thought-leadership to audiences. There are also many devices through which you can reach people – via laptops, tablets, or mobiles. Your content marketing mix needs to be varied and engaging, and yet also coherent and “on brand”.
20. What are the key elements of solopreneur branding?
Branding is sexy. It’s an exciting area of your solopreneur business. The minute you have a brand name and a logo, it’s as if your business comes to life. That’s the whole reason why solopreneur knowledge marketers get carried away, and don’t think hard enough about why they are branding, and what branding really means to their business.
To understand “branding” we may need a whole separate guide, but there are some tenets worth knowing first – and always:
a. How are Personal Branding and Business Branding intertwined?
In a solopreneur business, your personal branding is the primary branding you have to worry about. When you are selling your products, the first question potential customers may have is: “Who is giving out this product? What does he have to back his authority in this area? Why should I trust and believe his words? In what way is he more valuable than other marketers in this field?”
Your thought-leadership, eminence, authority, and accumulated trust are what sells really.
b. Why is Brand Purpose a big issue for customers?
What is “brand purpose”? Why is there such a hoo-ha about it now? There are many people around us who like to ponder: “What is the purpose of my life? Why am I here on this Earth? What larger destiny have I come to fulfill?” The same questions can be asked of brands. What is the larger purpose why a brand exists? What does it want to do to serve humanity as a whole, or have a meaningful place on this planet?
Most customers these days (especially millennials) like to be associated with brands that have a larger purpose than just selling more products and making money. People want to know what bigger canvas the brand has seen as its reason for existence, and what larger cause it supports as part of the human endeavor.
c. How can Brand Co-ownership aid brand engagement and loyalty?
There’s one aspect to building brand engagement and loyalty that many marketers miss. If you allow a customer to co-own your brand he will seldom leave, because he has contributed to the brand creation.
For example, if your brand encourages UGC (user-generated content) on your site – perhaps, by allowing users to post their own photos or videos – people will love engaging with this feature. They will own your site as much as you do, and will never leave you. That’s the power of loyalty and self-propelled engagement that comes from a sense of co-ownership.
21. What monetizing opportunities exist for solopreneurs?
To make money online as a solopreneur in your niche, start thinking strategically. Your inbound content marketing will help you build a solid base of fans, followers, subscribers and a loyal readership that trusts your brand and your word. When your site traffic and subscriber conversions have grown substantially, see what “monetizable assets” then get created for you.
There are at least seven directions from which you can earn … and our diagram below shows you at least three income streams from each of the seven directions:
a. How to make money from selling products via eCommerce?
It’s a known axion that eCommerce success depends again on your having a good subscriber list. Email marketing and eCommerce are inseparable. To make the most money selling products, begin with converting your own subscribers into buyers:
- Sell your own products to customers. You could sell digital or physical products – or even your services. Content marketing will have helped create the trust to start selling, from small to big items, to several customers who can also become repeat purchasers.
- Sell other people’s products to your customers via affiliate marketing or drop shipping. When selling others’ products you earn by getting commissions or from price markups. These ways to earn can be big if you choose the right products to sell, that do wonders for your revenues and your brand.
- Sell product bundles or ensembles – or customizable products. You can combine your own products with the products of others to get greater profitability. For example, if you sell knitting patterns, you can bundle that with wool and knitting needles from other sellers, to make the product a complete set. Selling bundle packs is a great way to offer “solutions” rather than just products. Plus, they bolster your eStore with more products than you have created yourself, letting you pad up your repertoire with complementary products from others.
b. How to make money from selling advertising space on your site?
Renting space on your website or blog – your real estate – is one way of making money. You rent space to advertisers who are enamored of the traffic coming to your blog, and want the visibility they too can get. Here are some ways to earn:
- Run Google Ad Sense on your blog. Google pays you per click on its ad, but it pays low and its ads are often mismatched, so beware.
- Join an ad network to get their other members to advertise on your site, just as you too can advertise on their other member sites.
- You can also advertise on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn, to channel social fans of your blog excerpts back to your blog.
c. How to make money from selling paid content potential on your blog?
After you’ve looked at ways to get advertising revenues from your blog, turn your attention to the content you can be paid to include on your blog. Here are three types that work to earn well for many bloggers:
- Sell sponsored posts, where a big brand or marketer wants you to write an article on your site (that sounds like an article but subtly advertises the brand he sells). Google insists these should be clearly marked as “SPONSORED POSTS”.
- Get paid to write product reviews, for which the manufacturer pays you. Reviews work when you don’t sell your neutrality to push a product mindlessly. Compare, contrast and analyze a product with the aim of helping your customers, even as you earn for the review.
- Try earning from paid interviews – other solopreneurs may like to be interviewed by you, with the interviews published on your blog, so that they get exposure to your reading audiences.
d. How to make money from selling access to your audience community?
Many marketers would pay an arm and a leg for access to your list of email subscribers, because they know your emails reach the inboxes of these subscribers. Here are ways to monetize this:
- Do joint ventures with other bloggers. A JV (joint venture) is when you join with another marketer and you promote a product that benefits both of you, as well as your subscribers.
- Offer the products of other marketers to your subscribers on special deals. Your subscribers get a price-discount, you have something fresh to offer to them exclusively before it hits the market, and the other marketer gets high-quality captive audiences.
- Openly promote the other blogger as a worthwhile resource for your readers. A lot of seasoned marketers like to enhance their own brand by promoting other young marketers to their readers, while also charging the new marketers a pretty penny for the promotion.
e. How to make money from selling access to your influence and sway?
Who are influencers? They are bloggers with tightly knit, loyal subscribers communities. Now, what can influencers do to gain money, when they have built such influence? Here are some ideas:
- Seal deals with big brands for influencer campaigns. Big brands across the Internet are always looking for influencers who have medium-sized but tightly-bonded groups of followers, who follow their every word.
- Get very lucrative speaking opportunities. The money in speaking events is not to be sneezed at. It can be huge. Plus, there’s an excellent rub-off on your brand from being among other greats on the speakers’ panel.
- Get paid to give interviews or sign book deals. Podcasts are a big deal in content marketing, and many marketers are looking for a set of “experts” they could invite (at a fee) to be their guest interviewees.
f. How to make money from selling access to your expert advice?
Maybe you were blogging for free earlier, but now, with a substantial audience community, you can perhaps start charging for your “productized advice”. Here are ways to do this:
- Sell ebooks and online courses that encapsulate the most popular parts of your knowledge. Ebooks may not sell for much apiece but they lead to purchases of online courses that retail for as much as $199 to even $999, depending on the topic and its popularity, and your brand value.
- Sell memberships with a library full of various types of content based on your niche. You could charge a monthly membership subscription and take your community bonding further with an exclusive and bustling community forum.
- Sell seats to group sessions you can host, like webinars, workshops, Q & A sessions, or masterminds. Other solopreneurs like you, who want to break away from lonely writing to a bit of company, would love these group-learning opportunities.
g. How to make money from selling from your business experience?
If you have been running a successful solopreneur business, there will be tons of other solopreneurs out there desperate to get you to show them the ropes. Here are ways to earn from your success:
- Offer yourself as a mentor, coach, or consultant – and charge for your know-how. No charge will be too high if a new solopreneur wants to make fewer mistakes than he has already, and lost a lot of money with every mistake.
- Offer one-to-one training sessions in areas where budding solopreneurs need to learn how to achieve success. Most often new tech areas will give you opportunities to experiment there first yourself, and then train others.
- Offer to help new solopreneurs on vendor selections, outsource worker selections, tool selections, and influencer selections. A lot of newbie solopreneurs often find it tough to know how to make decisions that work for both short-term and long-term ROI.
22. What are the best business ideas for solopreneurs?
One of the most searched for topics on Google is “solopreneur business ideas”. I don’t need to give you the list of all that you can do as a business, because hundreds of articles already outdo each other with the number of ideas they have. So if you want any good business idea read all these competitive articles.
- 50 Small Business Ideas for Solopreneurs
- 15 Best Online Business Ideas for Solopreneursand Wantrepreneurs
- 5 High Earning Solopreneur Business Ideas
- 61 Best Online Business Ideas That Work in 2020
- 53 Solopreneur Businesses You Can Start
But if you want the ONE smartest solopreneur business idea that can earn you millions and billions with near-zero startup costs, read about that below.
23. Can you get venture capital, funding and loans for solopreneur businesses?
This is a bit of a tricky issue, but happily most solopreneur businesses online hardly need any serious funding at all. They can start with near zero-costs, as we said before, if they plan to do all the work themselves without expensive outsourcing.
Sramana Mitra, Founder, CEO of the 1My1M global virtual accelerator, has this advice for solopreneur startups:
“You don’t need a full executive team for seed funding. However, solo entrepreneurs typically have difficulty in raising seed funding. Investors prefer at least one co-founder.
This is a slightly complex issue, because if you are a solo founder bootstrapping, you should put all your energy into trying to get to product-market fit, and getting to paying customers. Not on trying to artificially fill a co-founder position.
The way to mitigate this is by getting your startup to traction where you have paying customers and a clear path to high velocity customer acquisition as a solo founder. If those metrics are in place, you can raise money without a co-founder.”
24. How can solopreneurs improve their productivity?
Productivity increases when a solopreneur learns to have the right orientation towards the use of his time, money and effort. Let us look at some quick things you can do to improve on all these three fronts:
a. Time management tactics to follow for better productivity?
- You have to learn how to turn tasks into habits. A long to-do list of tasks could feel overwhelming unless habit patterns are set. What’s the advantage of turning important tasks into habits? On those dreary, fatiguing days, it’s easier to do a thing because it has become a habit – whereas you’d tend to put off tasks that need harder mental application.
- You also have to learn how to turn habits into systems. So what is a system? The dictionary explains that “a system is a set of principles or procedures according to which something is done; an organized scheme or method.” If you turn your workflows into rolling and repetitive sequences, you’ll have no trouble automating later.
- You must ensure you don’t get overstretched handling customers. Plan on building products that become passive income streams. They will then sell on autopilot, leaving you free to create more products. Without passive income products, it’s hard to scale your business.
b. Money management tactics to follow for better productivity?
- Don’t blindly believe you have to spend money to make money. We live in the online world where everything – from creating your knowledge products, to the marketing, to the sales, and to the customer management – can all happen digitally through and through. No inventory needed, no prior investment needed. In fact, you don’t even need your own website and blog if you can begin with a blogging space that’s free.
- You may forget to be very ROI-conscious. With a small budget you can make your start-up or small business go a fairly long way if you get your mental shift oriented towards ROI (Return On Investment). The perennial question to ask would be “If I spend this money, what will I earn back in return? Will that be more than I spend? And how long should I have to wait for that return?”
- You may get into the destructive habit of “frustration-spending”. When you are not making money as fast as you wish, you can at least not spend money faster. You must be able to sit tight with patience while your marketing waits to blossom, and not let loose your frustrations by becoming a “tool buying junkie”.
c. Effort management tactics to follow for better productivity?
- Don’t let a false sense of righteousness prevent you from pinching ethically. There is already a lot of information on the Internet on any topic you want to write about. Why reinvent the wheel? Read a lot on your topic, take ideas from others who’ve done the same work before, then digest and recast the content in your own language (or it’s plagiarism). Pepper it all with a dash of your own originality.
- Smartly create templates of all your work. Templates can speed up your work. Once you have templates for everything, it’s so easy to work because you are just filling in the blanks. Avoid those readymade templates, though. Create your own that you can re-use, again and again.
- Don’t do less genuine work and more “pretend busywork”. People who never get work done are usually the ones who can’t separate their A priorities from their B and C priorities. To them, everything looks important. For example here’s a dilemma they’d find difficult to answer: “Is it more important to write a blog post daily, than to spend quality time upskilling by watching and learning from others’ video tutorials?” Only you can decide – but decide you must.
25. What ideal skills does a solopreneur need?
As a solopreneur, the skills you may need to master are many. You would need elementary practical skills in things like writing, photo editing, sound recording, coding, data management – and the knowledge of how to work with WordPress.
But beyond such basics, for which there are plenty of books or outsourced help, there are also some soft skills no one talks about that are crucial:
- You need the intelligence to handle, read and understand research.
- You need the grit to be able to create volumes of content.
- You need the versatility to handle all kinds of multimedia content.
- You need the smarts to attract and sustain traffic to your site.
- You need the planning to convert customers using automation.
- You need the empathy to handle email for customer nurturing.
- You need the confidence to build presence on the social media.
- You need the speed to catch trends at inception for traction.
- You need the energy to be a lifelong learner and networker.
26. What is the best mindset for a solopreneur to have?
From my own experience as a solopreneur, I can vouch for three absolute must-haves in your mindset. If you build your mental muscles for these, success is a given. So here are the big three:
a. You must cultivate patience, persistence, and determination to succeed.
Only 5% of all startups live beyond the first year to see success. The other 95% fall by the wayside because their owners begin business with unrealistic expectations. Success takes its own time in any online business. It’s like a Chinese bamboo tree that doesn’t break through the ground for five years. After five years, once it breaks through the ground, it will grow 90 feet tall in five weeks! That how business takes off. But will you wait that long on nothing but hope and stick-to-itiveness?
b. You must believe in “growth hacking” as the way to success.
“Growth hacking” is about finding outside-the-box marketing strategies to get the maximum number of customers with minimal spending. Growth hackers think up non-traditional and innovative marketing techniques since tight budgets prevent traditional practices. Growth hackers experiment, test, and are always pushing limits – with a single-mindedness and desperation to keep growing, no matter what the means.
c. Your branding must be both firm and flexible, which needs dexterity.
The secret to great branding is to maintain your brand’s values and concepts with coherence and consistency over the long term, but be flexible on how you interpret your brand for tactical purposes in the short term. When a competitor challenges you, or the market trends change, how will your brand remain true to its values and yet respond to the immediate challenges flexibly? You need to know how to adapt your brand to market exigencies, without losing its core.
27. How can automation, outsourcing and networking help solopreneurs?
All three concepts – automation, outsourcing, and networking – enable scaling of a solopreneur business. You can’t grow to the level of a million-dollar business if you didn’t have these three factors. So let’s see how best you can use these ways to shatter your limits and extend beyond them:
a. How can solopreneurs gain scale from automation?
The real purpose of automation, in a solopreneur business, is not just to make work mechanical, and therefore easier on you. Automation is best used when you want to serve a lot of customers, with the right information at the right time, during their buying journeys – so that you can nudge them towards greater and greater purchases from you. Amazon is a classic example of how to use email automation cleverly to never lose customers from their loop, and get the customers to buy more and more from them. If you have automation, it must be able to sense the “digital body language” of customers and deliver the right information to them at “moments of truth” i.e. when they are ready to make or change their buying decisions. To do this customized content delivery at scale you need automation.
b. How can solopreneurs gain scale from outsourcing?
Most solopreneurs end up doing outsourcing the wrong way. They outsource what’s heavy on their workloads without first checking their own strength areas and weakness areas. Ideally, no matter what the workload, you should do what you are best at, which you can do like a breeze. You should outsource your weakness areas, so you are not performing under par in these areas. If writing is your strength, but accounting is not, then you have to outsource accounting and not writing. No matter how heavy your writing workload, if you do it you’ll be faster and better at first go, than anyone else. Scale demands getting work done but at a level of quality on all fronts.
c. How can solopreneurs gain scale from networking?
Networking is a “force multiplier”. Since a solopreneur cannot be everywhere to tom-tom his business and extend his reach, his networks of influence and contact will greatly amplify him to the world. As they say in content marketing, don’t just write to impress your potential customers, write also to impress those who can get you your potential customers. Smart solopreneurs, who are able to scale faster, make smarter use of networking and outreach to exponentially increase their own marketing efforts. Networking requires a lot of effort, but no money. That’s why it pays so handsomely when it starts working for you beautifully.
28. What are some great examples of solopreneur millionaires?
There are so many inspiring stories of solopreneurs that it’s hard to choose just a few exemplary ones. I’ve picked a business coach, a website builder and a seller of energy supplements … all now multi-million dollar solopreneurs. Read their stories and see how it doesn’t matter what your business is about, it’s the attitude and mindset that makes the millions.
29. What are some best books for solopreneurs?
The titles below have scored high on buyer ratings …
30. What are some best courses for solopreneurs?
The Udemy courses below are eminently affordable and great value for money …
31. What are some best blogs for solopreneurs?
The blogs on solopreneurship that I’ve picked here are great on content, style, differentiation …
a. Solopreneur Hour (Podcast): Lively conversations, candid insights, & bold advice for proudly #unemployable people who are primed for real prosperity and fulfillment.
b. The Savvy Solopreneur: Helping you run your own business on your own terms. Do the solopreneur lifestyle better.
c. Solopreneur Institute: Learn how to make money online with affiliate marketing, blogging, SEO & entrepreneurship.
32. What are some best project management tools for solopreneurs?
Below is a list of the most socially-discussed project management tools for solopreneurs …
a. Asana: The sheer ease of use of Asana makes it a great solopreneur hit. Asana organizes work so you know what to do, why it matters, and how to get it done.
b. Wrike: Wrike’s powerful templates make managing projects simple and are designed with customization and flexibility in mind. Wrike has templates for every easy or complex task.
c. nTask: Their Kanban Boards are a great favorite. They bring more flexibility and increased efficiency to all your workflows, by helping you in maintaining your focus.
33. What are some best CRM tools for solopreneurs?
Below is a list of the most popular CRM (Customer Relationsip Management) tools among solopreneurs. Although many of them are also designed for teams, solopreneurs seem to love these …
a. Zoho CRM: Unique and powerful suite of software to run your entire business, brought to you by a company with the long term vision to transform the way you work.
b. Nimble: Connect with customers where they are. Nimble is the only CRM that works in every social network. Cut your time spent on data entry in half.
c. OnePageCRM: The more actions you make, the more you sell. That’s why the OnePageCRM is based on a smart Next Action™ philosophy … it’s at the very heart of the system.
34. What are some best outsourcing platforms for solopreneurs?
I’ve graded three of the best outsourcing platforms – the most used ones by solopreneurs – in order of pricing and availability of great freelancers. Always remember to have a few outsource workers to hand pro-actively, rather than as a reaction to an emergency.
a. Upwork: Work with the largest network of independent professionals and get things done—from quick turnarounds to big transformations.
b. Freelancer: Whatever your needs, there will be a freelancer to get it done. Post a job you need completed and receive competitive bids from freelancers in minutes.
c. Fiverr: Find the right freelancer to begin working on your project within minutes. Find high-quality services at every price point. No hourly rates, just project-based pricing.