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Maybe you’ve heard the term “solopreneur” before, but weren’t really sure what it meant. Maybe you dismissed it as a meaningless buzzword. Thing is, it’s a growing form of business, and it could be the perfect fit for your entrepreneurial goals.

Let’s talk about what it means, and how to build your skill set as a solopreneur.

Have You Got What It Takes to be a Solopreneur?

1. A Solopreneur is a One Person Business
2. Why Become a Solopreneur?
3. Becoming a Solopreneur
4. Let’s Talk Strengths and Weaknesses
5. 5 Websites and Podcasts for Solopreneurs

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1. A Solopreneur is a One Person Business

It can be a part-time side business or your full-time gig. Many solopreneurs sell digital products (like Ebooks, digital art, and online courses), but it’s also really common to sell coaching online or run a consulting business.

It’s even possible to sell physical products like clothing, jewelry, and tech, there’s just the added layer of inventory management and fulfillment to keep in mind.

One of the big distinguishing characteristics for many solopreneurs is that their brands are often highly personal and centered largely around their unique personalities and experience. Ryan Robinson is a great example, as is Pat Flynn.

A man examines photo prints and digital prints. A self employed photographer is a solopreneur.

Of course, being a solopreneur doesn’t mean that you have to do everything yourself. Solopreneurs often work with contractors, freelancers, and other professionals.

Professional accounting, for example, is a commonly outsourced aspect of running a business solo, as are things like web development and content writing. The essential core of the business, however, is a single person.

In the words of cartoonist Jen Sorenson: “A solopreneur is a captain of an extremely tiny dinghy.”

2. Why Become a Solopreneur?

Well, a lot of reasons. People pursue solopreneurship in a ton of different ways (and with very different motivations) but generally, you might be a solopreneur if:

  • You want to be in business for yourself
  • You want to monetize a passion
  • You want an additional source of income
  • You crave greater freedom and independence
  • You want to be your own boss and take greater control over your income

One of the most common reasons that people become solopreneurs is wanting an income source that they can shape around other aspects of their lives. Young parents, for example, may find solopreneurship rewarding because they can set their own goals and hours.

It’ll take a lot of drive and motivation to become and succeed as a solopreneur. Let’s talk about some of the other elements involved in selling online and finding success.

3. Becoming a Solopreneur

How can you prepare your business for the market and start chasing your entrepreneurial goals? Here are some key things to keep in mind.

Get Used to Me, Myself, and I

To be a successful solopreneur, you need to be ready to wear a lot of hats. You’ll be product manager, CEO, CFO, sales lead, marketing manager, web developer, and more. If not a jack of all trades, you at least need to have a sense of whether a job that you outsource is being done well.

It can be a lot to juggle, so strong project management skills are vital to success. Look for ways to take some of the extra pressure off of yourself where you can. Consider working with freelancers from on tasks that fall outside of your wheelhouse. Upwork and Fiverr are popular marketplaces, but for more thoroughly vetted candidates, check out Coding Ninjas (for developers), Clearvoice (for copywriters), or Toptal (for a range of services).

Tools to streamline your processes are huge when you’re on your own, especially when it comes to the more technical aspects of Ecommerce. Building a website for small business is easier than ever if you choose the right platform. You need a site that you can maintain, grow, and scale over time. Selz takes complexity out of the process, and also integrates with some of the best tools on the web for shipping your products, marketing your store, and even taking care of accounting.

Here’s the thing about becoming a solopreneur: a lot of the work you do will fall outside of your usual range. You’ll need to learn and grow over time. It’s one of the challenges, sure, but also one of the great joys of selling products online. Keep at it, and you’ll be amazed at what you can create.

A woman works at a laptp in a coworking space. Being a solopreneur means managing and motivating yourself.

Find Your Niche and Lean in Hard

The internet is huge, and selling online means that your competition can be global in scope. One of the key ways to build a solid Ecommerce strategy is finding a niche where you are competing with relatively few businesses. At the heart, it’s about finding what makes your business unique and using that to your advantage.

Start with some serious research. Tools like Moz and Ahrefs are great for seeing what consumers are searching for in your niche and getting a sense of what kinds of keywords your business can own.
Connect with other entrepreneurs in similar niches and get their advice about the ups and downs of the growth process. Some helpful questions to ask could include:

  • What makes your business unique?
  • What do you wish you’d known when you were just getting started?
  • How do you balance your life as an entrepreneur with your personal life?
  • At what point did your business first become profitable?
  • Did you continue working a regular job when you started your business? If so, at what point did you become a full-time entrepreneur?

Spend some time exploring your own unique business. Figure out what advantages you have in competing with other businesses.

One huge plus side to becoming a solopreneur (versus starting a larger business) is the low overhead costs. Chances are you’ll be working out of your home, and, with no employees, all the profits will come directly back to you and your business. As you get started, remember that you’ll probably want to keep your regular job until your new business is fully off the ground.

Be Patient

It takes time to start and grow a business. One huge pitfall for many solopreneurs is expecting results too quickly and getting discouraged when it seems like the dream is taking forever to come true. Even if you already have an audience, monetizing it will take work and the process always happens gradually.

Think of it this way:
There are only 168 hours in a week. Sleep accounts for a third of that time. That leaves 112 hours for work, friends, family, meals, exercise, and recharge time. If you don’t pace yourself, you’ll risk burnout and general exhaustion.

Set realistic goals, and apportion your time accordingly. Reach out to local entrepreneurs and the online community to get a sense of how others have worked through the same process. Remember that there will be ups and downs, and prepare yourself for both.

One last note here: Don’t forget to celebrate your successes and take pride in the little things. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but it did come together through tiny, astounding steps forward.

Woman working on a laptop in bed. A successful solopreneur can work from anywhere.

4. Let’s Talk Strengths and Weaknesses

Working independently, becoming your own boss, and succeeding online takes a specific set of qualities and skills. While there is no “master mold” for a solopreneur, it’s worth keeping in mind the ways that you are already prepared and the areas where you’ll need to grow.

See how ready you are to be a solopreneur and to work independently by asking yourself the following questions. Be honest about your strengths and weaknesses.

Are You Sufficiently Self-Motivated?

As a solopreneur, you won’t have a boss breathing down your neck or setting deadlines. That’s one of the joys of starting a business, but when it comes down to it, the freedom you gain means that you need to take on the role of boss. Are you ready to push yourself? Remember that no one will tell you what to do and when.

Can You Be Both Maker and Manager?

Most entrepreneurs are innovators at heart. You got into this business because different ways of thinking and different ways of approaching familiar challenges fascinate you. That’s great.

Keep in mind, though, that you need to access both that creative, innovative side of yourself, as well as the deadline-and-detail-oriented element that keeps things moving and on track.

Do You Have the Confidence and Resilience to Keep Going?

Going it alone isn’t easy, and to succeed as a solopreneur you need to deeply believe that your goals are possible and meaningful. Community is vital here, for mentorship, de-stressing, and just having people to lean on when the going gets tough.

In the end, though, it comes down to your ability to consistently keep your eye on the prize. You’ll need to listen to the advice and ideas of others, but if you’re too quickly swayed, the master plan and vision by which your business navigates can get muddled.

Are You Comfortable with Selling?

Business development is one of the most important parts of your job as a solopreneur. Chances are, you’ll start by reaching out to your network to make your first sales. Very quickly, though, your Ecommerce business will have to find new customers to grow, and finding an audience and promoting your products online is a huge undertaking.

An architect holds a bueprint up to the wall. Every solopreneur needs to have a solid plan and a clear path to success.

Can You Handle the Finances?

While it’s very common for solopreneurs to outsource accounting to a professional, you will spend a lot of time tracking your revenue and costs. Having a solid understanding of spreadsheet software like Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets is important as you work to grow your small business.

Are You Comfortable Getting Paid Only When You Make a Sale or Complete a Job?

Solopreneurs don’t have the same safety net as employees at regular jobs, and this can be tough. Before making the jump to full-time solopreneurship make sure to save up some money to cushion the transition.

How Much Time Can You Devote to Your Business?

It’s vital to be realistic here. An overly optimistic estimation early on can mean that you feel overstretched really quickly. If you have a ton of commitments right now that leave you very little time day-to-day, start by laying the groundwork. Begin building connections and an audience, and find a time in the near future to transition more of your time and energy into your business.

Do You Work Well By Yourself?

Again, community is vital, but becoming a solopreneur involves a lot of, well, solo time. Can you maintain focus and meet goals without a broader team?

A lone farmer stares out at an expansive pasture. Like a farmer, a solopreneur needs to have to the discipline to work well alone, and also be okay working alone without a team.

5. 5 Websites and Podcasts for Solopreneurs

The growth process of becoming a solopreneur is an incredible (and worthwhile) journey. We’ve put together a collection of some resources to help you as you continue to learn and build your skill-set.

  1. The Solopreneur Life offers a wealth of information on every aspect of solopreneurship with a helpful blog, a guide to building up passive income, and much, much more.
  2. If a podcast is more your speed, check out Michael O’Neal’s podcast The Solopreneur Hour, featuring interviews with solopreneurs and episodes that focus on all things solopreneur-related.
  3. Entrepreneur on Fire is another great podcast and blog to inform and inspire your small business goals.
  4. Natalie Sisson’s The Suitcase Entrepreneur (a bestselling book, as well as a blog and a podcast) covers life as a digital nomad, Ecommerce ideas, and so much more.  
  5. We’d be remiss if we didn’t include FounderU in the list. If you’ve enjoyed this post, there’s so much more to discover. Sign up for our newsletter to get the best Ecommerce help on the web delivered direct to your mailbox.

Tell Us About Your Experience!

Are you a solopreneur? We’d love to hear about your journey, experience, tips, and tricks for newcomers to the solopreneur world! Is there anything we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments.

About the author

Bryce Patterson

Bryce Patterson

Bryce is a writer and content marketer at Selz, and a freelance writer for tech companies including Churn Buster and Evergreen. He gives ecommerce business and non-profits a more human, relatable voice. He has written a novel, worked on a comic book, and played in a handful of bands. Bryce lives in Colorado.

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