Are you in the 87% of the world that dislikes (or hates) their current job? Do you imagine what it would be like to leave, work from home (or beach) with just your laptop and a business idea?
With the internet, there has never been a better time to work for yourself. You don’t have to sit around at a job you hate until you are 65 and ready to retire.
More and more people are choosing to become a solopreneur than ever before. I’m sure part of the allure is from Instagram and the “laptop lifestyle” but the truth is that it’s never been easier to start a business. Previous generations wouldn’t believe it was so easy to start a business or website with minimal effort.
Thanks to the internet, gig economy, and low costs it’s never been easier to become an entrepreneur. 10 years ago it would have been impossible to do what we have access to now. You can start a blog, publish a book or grow an Amazon business with minimal costs.
Of course, becoming an entrepreneur vs. a successful entrepreneur is a different story. Whether you start with a side hustle or build a business there are some universal rules that will help you succeed.
Last year I left my six-figure job to turn my passion for writing into a full-time career. I have learned some valuable lessons in my 12-month journey and want to share with you so you can avoid the mistakes I made.
Here’s everything you need to know about becoming a solopreneur and succeeding much faster with my 14 lessons.
What is a Solopreneur?
The definition of a solopreneur is a professional who chooses to go into business for themselves by going “solo.” They will collaborate with others, grow their business without boundaries, and most likely without employees (at least initially). Solopreneurship is a great way to start a business with minimal costs as there are no employees.
Solopreneur vs. Entrepreneur
Think of a solopreneur as an entrepreneur that is running a business 100% on their own. In my case, becoming a solopreneur helped me leave the 9-5 and start doing work I loved.
Personally, I never wanted a brick and mortar business. I didn’t want the overhead and employees that come with it. While I might hire an occasional freelancer the majority of time is spent alone. The reason I wanted to do the “solo” route was that I wanted life on my own terms and be accountable for the success or failures.
4 Reasons Why You Should Become a Solopreneur
If you’re tired of seeing your boss take a majority of your earnings or want freedom becoming a solopreneur might be a great option. Here are the biggest four reason to make the leap:
1. Keep The Rewards
Working in corporate America for the past eight years made me realize there is very little accountability for your work. Sure you need to do well enough to not get fired but so many people do just enough to get by, collect the paycheck, and head home. On the other side, overachievers are rarely rewarded as much as they should be.
Sure, you will get a big commission or bonus but the company is taking the majority of the rewards, not the high performing individual. I wanted to be rewarded for my work, if I have a half-ass day or week I shouldn’t get paid as much. But if I work hard I should be rewarded equally.
Disclaimer: Just because you decide to work doesn’t mean the laptop lifestyle magically happens. Sure you get to keep 100% of the profits but you have expenses, insurance, taxes, and usually much longer hours (hopefully just for the beginning).
2. Create Your Own Schedule
I’ve never understood why everyone had to work the same eight-hour shift. How is it that it takes people of all age, skill, and experience the same amount of time to do the same work? Short answer, it doesn’t.
But corporate America has burned into our brains that it is the way it is. We all don’t need to work for a set number of hours to complete a specific set of tasks. There is nothing worse than being at work with everything completed mindlessly scrolling through the internet.
As a solopreneur, you get work when you want. Usually, I’m working very early and never past 7 or 8 pm unless it’s easy task work. While my brain operates best in the morning, others might be night owls and enjoy working at night. When you work for yourself you can work when your brain works best. Somedays it could be a four hour day while other days could be 12 or 13 hours.
Creating your own schedule is one of my favorite parts of being a solopreneur. I’m sure you’ve hated sitting in pointless meetings at work or stared down the clock until it was “acceptable” to leave without getting in trouble. By becoming a solopreneur each day is its own adventure and on your schedule.
3. Unlimited Growth Potential
Another flaw with corporate America is the glass ceiling that is above you in nearly every role. Regardless of your effort, if you make $70,000 a year you’ll always make $70,000 even if you’re an A player.
By working for yourself and becoming a solopreneur you have unlimited growth potential. Of course, it takes work but once you get past the learning curve you can scale an online business quickly and cheaply. I’ve seen so many different bloggers earn $3,000 – $4,000 a month and not even a year later they are earning $10,000 – $12,000 per month.
What job can you scale up that quickly?
4. Total Control of Your Life
The last reason you might think about becoming a solopreneur is that you control your destiny. You are your own boss! I don’t know about you but listening to a boss or director tell me what to do was horrible.
Some people need that kind of guidance but others might want total freedom to do what they want to do. By becoming a solopreneur you literally control everything about your business. It’s a daunting task but also very exciting.
Solopreneurs control their own success!
14 Lessons from One Year as a Solopreneur
The benefits are endless but the truth is, being a solopreneur is hard work. Anytime you attach your work to your personal identity it can be very challenging. But that’s not to say that it’s impossible. Besides, anything great takes time to build.
Here are my top 14 lessons of being a solopreneur on my one year anniversary:
1. Focus on Yourself
As an entrepreneur, you are inevitably trying to solve a problem for a group of people. Your work should always focus on, “How can I help more people with this specific problem.”
While you should focus on your customer it is so vital to not forget about number one, yourself. If you stop caring for your mind and body you will never create the best product for your consumer.
Spend time each day looking after your physical and mental health. The easiest way to do this is with a consistent morning routine.
If done properly your morning routine can shape your entire day by…
- Focusing on your why
- Gaining clarity on what you need to accomplish in the short and long-term with journaling
- Spending time reading, journaling, and meditating
- Exercising and getting the creative juices flowing
2. Success Is Never Overnight
It doesn’t matter how many times you fail. You only have to be right one time and then people can call you an overnight success.” — Marc Cuban
Marc Cuban knows all about being called an “overnight success.” After a long road of “failures”, he was able to make it big and finally sell his first company to earn millions literally overnight. While technically he became a millionaire overnight, the journey took years of sacrifice. He slept on floors, shared apartments with five roommates, and lost friendships on his path to success.
While Instagram makes entrepreneurship seem easy and filled with jet skis, private jets, and an easy life it’s not the case. Hard work is always required. If not, everyone would be an entrepreneur.
As Gary Vee points out in this video, success is years and years of hard work for anyone. Even though Lebron James became a national phenomenon at 18, he had been practicing hard for over a decade. While Justin Bieber seemed to have made it early in life he was singing at six years old.
Don’t kid yourself, if you want something great you have to work for it.
3. Get Clear on What You Are Trying to Accomplish
Clarity is so important to achieve your goals. You can’t go all in if you aren’t 100% clear on what you are trying to accomplish.
This happened to me and it sucks. Lack of clarity drains your energy, leaves you scattered, and on bad days feeling hopeless. The worst is when you feel like you worked all day only to look back and feel like nothing got done.
Without clarity, it’s really easy to jump from task to task never really accomplishing anything. Spend time every day, week, and month getting really clear on your objectives.
Each day dedicate a few minutes to writing out what your priorities are for the day. I found it super helpful to meditate for ten minutes and imagine the day going perfectly.
Also, you will find it beneficial to do this each Sunday and at the end of the month to clarify upcoming goals.
4. Everything is Temporary
When things are going bad it’s so easy to feel like it will last forever. It’s easy to think “this is just the way it is.”
In reality, you can change your life at any time. One new book or video can give you an idea that can change your life forever.
Same goes if you are producing content. All it takes one is blog post, Medium article, or Youtube video to go viral.
Instead of feeling hopeless and lost, spend time putting new information in your brain so you can produce more information out. Keep putting out content as it’s simply a numbers game to get your first viral post.
As Gary Vee said, “The more content I put out the luckier I seem to get.”
5. It’s Okay to be Bored
When was the last time you were truly bored?
I never thought about this until I was listening to a podcast with the author of “Bored and Brilliant.” Thanks to TV, phones, laptops, and tablets it’s impossible to be bored like we use to when we were kids.
People used to think of boredom as a bad thing, but in reality, boredom is where unbelieve ideas are born. You can’t get a life-changing idea while you’re mindless scrolling through your phone.
As a solopreneur or entrepreneur, it’s easy to feel that you need to work 24/7. While you need a good work ethic you also need to know when to unplug and learn from quiet moments. Turn your phone on airplane mode and go for a walk, run, or hike.
Spend your time thinking about your goals, aspirations, and challenges. Remember, your brain has more intelligence than any supercomputer. We just forget that sometimes because we are glued to our screens.
Don’t be afraid to put your phone away and find new ideas from “creative boredom.”
6. Always Be Learning
I’ve found it’s easy to get busy creating as a solopreneur and sometimes forget that you need to be consuming information as well. You can always learn more about your industry by spending time reading blogs, books or popular websites. But, you should also read or consume information that is entirely unrelated to sometimes spark creative, new ideas.
Successful people, in any industry, are always learning. They are never content and always pushing to achieve growth.
There is no better investment than investing in yourself, especially as a solopreneur. Plus, it has never been easier to consume new information thanks to podcasts, audible, Youtube, and amazing books. Focus on learning something new each day. Read a chapter a day, listen to a podcast or take an online course.
Even if you improve 1% each day think of the returns in the next 12 months?
7. Take 100% Responsibility for Your Life and Business
After reading “The Success Principles” I realized how true this is — you must take 100% responsibility for your life.
Blaming others for anything takes the power from you and gives it others. It might feel like it’s a clients fault but the second you give power away you makes it hard to change the outcome.
If you want to achieve something it’s 100% up to you. As an entrepreneur, you will make endless mistakes, it’s part of the process. Take responsibility for them and move forward.
You have to fail your way to success.” — Les Brown
8. Always Know What is the Outcome
Ask yourself constantly, what is the outcome?
Before you email a client, post a new blog, or schedule your social media ask yourself…”What am I trying to achieve?”
Focus on doing work that moves the needle, not busy work to feel like you accomplished something today.
9. Create an End Time
It’s natural for first-time solopreneurs to want to prove themselves to the world. They want “hustle” 24/7 and make Gary Vee proud. But if you go non-stop, 24/7 eventually you will burn out. Trust me, this is coming from having first-hand experience.
There is only so much caffeine in the world. Without recharging you will never create your best work. Chose quality over quantity by creating an end time.
Just like you have a wake-up time you should have an end time for your business. This could be to spend with family, read or relax before bed.
Stop feeling guilty about recharging as it will give you the energy needed to create the best possible products.
10. Keep Striving for More
The world is changing faster than ever. You can’t afford to settle in your current situation, no matter how good it’s going. Amazon is one of the biggest companies ever and they are still putting out new ideas constantly. Sure, not all of them will work but you can’t get comfortable. Remember when Blockbuster video did?
Always find ways to add value, create new projects, get more customers, and solve more problems.
Work like there is someone working twenty-four hours a day to take it all away from you.” — Mark Cuban
11. Do The Hard Stuff First
In Brian Tracy’s book, “Eat the Frog” he talks about the importance of doing the hard stuff first each morning. Spend this time on projects, problems, or situations that are giving you the most challenges.
Your brain is the most refreshed and creative in the morning. Don’t waste your time and creativity by checking emails, going on social media, or doing meaningless tasks like organizing your desktop.
The more important and valuable the task is to you, the more you will be motivated to overcome procrastination and launch yourself in to the job. — Brian Tracy
12. Understand that Progress = Happiness
Tony Robbins talks about this concept of progress all the time and he’s right. He says happiness isn’t as hard as people make it out to be. If you are simply making progress toward any goal you will be happy.
Whether you’ve made your sale or earned your first $100 side hustling, progress equals happiness.
As soon as you start to make an inch of progress it will motivate you to keep going and work closer to your goal.
Growing a blog or freelance business is no easy task. While you want to be earning six figures per year just know that it’s a process. I had not anticipated how difficult it would be but have learned to enjoy the process more than the results as I’m constantly trying to move forward.
Progress really does equal happiness.
13. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
It took me 30 years to realize that comparing yourself to anyone else is a massive waste of time.
Who cares if someone’s website is making more money than yours. Or has more social media fans. Everyone starts out differently and no two people start in the same place.
If you want to be a great solopreneur only compare yourself to is your previous self. Track your own metrics and only compare your results to your past.
14. Don’t Forget About Health Insurance
Oh, insurance. My former employer had incredible insurance and we never paid a dime for medical, dental, or vision. Once my coverage ended when I left I was responsible for this on my own. I signed up for COBRA insurance and found out I was able to keep the same coverage for 18 months.
This means I won’t have to worry about my insurance again until 2019! This is great because it is a pain in the ass when you’re self-employed. The “bad” news is that all the deductibles are paid for by me! The monthly total for health, dental and vision for $419 PER MONTH.
As much as it sucks for paying my own insurance it’s necessary. I’d hate to be in an accident and have large medical bills derail my plan or clean out my savings.
If you want to be a solopreneur there are plenty of resources to help you on your journey.
Here are some of the best resources:
- Read or Listen to the Solopreneur Hour
- Hire Virtual Assistants
- Hire a Social Media Marketer
- Automate social media
- Hire a coach or find a mentor
Don’t Quit Your Job Yet
While I love outlining the benefits of being a solopreneur it’s important to note this lifestyle is not for everyone. Yes, the laptop lifestyle does exist but it’s not easy. The hours are long, the rewards might be low for a while, and it can be very lonely. But, if you are working on something you love and trying to help others the solopreneur path could be just the change you needed.
Once you start seeing growth or progress you will be more motivated than ever. If things go well, not only will you be earning more money but you will be doing something you love. You will also give yourself options. The freedom and potential of becoming a solopreneur are what caught my eye and still keeps me going on even the hardest days.
While you may start as a solopreneur the goal should be to scale up until you can become a full-fledged entrepreneur. This will allow you to scale, delegate, and focus on what you are good at.
Would you make the jump to being a solopreneur? Let me know in the comments.
How to Start a Morning Routine and Change Your Life
Latest posts by Michael Leonard (see all)
- Freelance Writing Rates: 7 Proven Models to Price Your Services - December 1, 2018
- How to Overcome Anything & Become Ultra Successful: John Malott Interview - November 6, 2018
- How to Quit Your Job & Become a Full-Time Copywriter (Carlos Redlich Interview) - November 6, 2018