Finding a perfect job is something that is only a dream for most of us. While some jobs do not offer a decent pay, others may not offer enough opportunities to showcase your potential. In such a scenario, more people are creating and running their own businesses, single-handedly. These individuals who run businesses without any support staff or employees are known as solopreneurs.

Why You Should Not Be a Solopreneur

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In this article, we shall be learning more about 1) solopreneurs, 2) what makes them different from entrepreneurs, and 3) some reasons why you should not be one!

SOLOPRENEUR: A BRIEF

Who Is a Solopreneur?

In the simplest of terms, solopreneurs are entrepreneurs who run their business alone or single-handedly. These are independent professionals who are engaged in building a personal brand by performing each of the business tasks themselves. They are themselves responsible for achieving personal and financial success from scratch and do not have any employees or support staff working for them. The term ‘solopreneur’ is a broad term that is used to refer to different professionals including freelancers, consultants, small business owners and on-call workers.

These days, a lot of people are going the ‘solo’ way and starting their own businesses. Solopreneurs are mostly driven by a passion for what they love doing, combined with self-confidence, courage, and multi-tasking abilities. They are usually more inclined toward doing everything themselves and hence may not feel the need to hire anyone. However, after spending a few years working alone, some solopreneurs hire certain workers in order to meet the needs of the growing business. Creating a job for yourself takes time, motivation, dedication and, of course, a lot of hard work. Leading it to success thereafter further adds to the challenging nature of solopreneurship.

Characteristics of a Solopreneur

It is true that the internet and many other resources available online have made it possible for people to consider becoming solopreneurs. But it takes more than just the internet to convert this dream into reality. There are many characteristics or features that an individual must possess to become a successful ‘solo’ business owner, such as:

  • Passion and optimism – An unflinching passion for your idea or business plan is something that acts as a driving force for those who wish to become solopreneurs. But passion often comes from optimism, which is also a characteristic trait of solopreneurs. Without a positive frame of mind, no business owner can move forward, and the same holds true for solopreneurs as well.
  • Courage and confidence – A solopreneur must have a great deal of courage and confidence to stay the course without giving up. If you wish to go solo, then you must not only take risks but also trust in your own abilities.
  • Extrovert and introvert – As a solopreneur, you would need to be both an extrovert and an introvert. On one hand, you must have superb people skills to communicate with business associates on a daily basis; on the other hand, you must be comfortable working alone for long periods of time. You must be able to make yourself comfortable in your own space but should also have the ability to socialize to take your business forward.
  • Creativity with getting resources – Most solopreneurs when starting their business may find themselves low on resources. Thus, you must possess creativity for getting resources and acquiring the tools needed to take the business forward. Someone who doesn’t possess this quality of resourcefulness may not be able to meet the challenges of running a business alone.
  • Versatility – From marketing to sales, and from finances to brainstorming ideas, a solopreneur has to handle each aspect of the business himself and to do this, he may need to be extremely versatile. If you plan to become a solopreneur, then you may need to acquire not only a large pool of knowledge but also several multi-dimensional skills to succeed.
  • Financial and tech savvy – As a solopreneur, you need to possess exceptional financial skills in order to make the most of your money and to utilize and invest it well. Without proper financial knowledge, even a great business idea can fail. Similarly, you must be tech-savvy to be able to make use of technology and the internet for promoting and running your business well.
  • Negotiation skills and salesmanship – To grow your business, you will also need exceptional negotiating abilities and excellent salesmanship. From clients to service providers, and from customers to third party vendors, a solopreneur needs to negotiate on a daily basis in order to move ahead and get the best out of a situation.
  • Creative – Only someone who can think creatively and has an innovative vision for the future can conduct a business single-handedly. Creativity forms the mainstay of the work profile of a solopreneur and proves useful not just during the initial steps but for the duration of the business.

Differences between a Solopreneur and an Entrepreneur

It is a common notion that those running their own businesses are called ‘entrepreneurs’, but the same definition can also be applied to ‘solopreneurs’. However, in spite of the slight similarity in the definitions, there are many differences between the two. While, on one hand, a solopreneur works independently without any workers, an entrepreneur may work with a group of people including staff members, employees, and consultants. The following are some of the other differences between solopreneurs and entrepreneurs:

  • Differences in aspirations and objectives: There are subtle differences between the aspirations and objectives of solopreneurs and entrepreneurs. While the goal of an entrepreneur is to make money, a solopreneur may be more focused on carving a brand or name for himself in the market. The main objective of a solopreneur is to set up and stabilize his business. The risk-taking scope for solopreneurs is usually less than in the case of entrepreneurs.
  • Differences in hiring employees: Entrepreneurs need to hire employees in order to meet their objective of maximizing profits in the fastest way, but solopreneurs are not focused on hiring anyone. They may make less money but ensure they keep 100% of the equity. However, they may use the services of freelancers or consultants every once in a while for help on certain matters. Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, may not hesitate to hire people if that is what it takes to achieve their objectives faster.
  • Difference in attitude – managers vs. workers: Entrepreneurs run a business with the aim of making money, even if it takes hiring workers, and then eventually selling off the business when it has made enough profit. They love the challenge of establishing and running the enterprise but may not be too keen on doing the work by themselves. They thus have a ‘manager’ attitude. In contrast, solopreneurs are keen on doing what they love and converting it into a one-man business. Even if this doesn’t ensure a good income or a handsome profit, solopreneurs are comfortable pursuing their passion without sharing their work responsibilities.
  • Entrepreneurs are focused on building a company: Another major difference between the two is that entrepreneurs are focused on building a profit-spinning company while solopreneurs are more inclined toward creating their own small space in the industry. Entrepreneurs tend to be out building connections and expanding their network, but solopreneurs spend hours getting things off the ground from the office to turn their dream into a reality.
  • Solopreneurs are not bothered about a buyout: Entrepreneurs work hard on building and expanding their businesses but may not be particularly attached to it. All they aim for is to convert the business into a profitable venture so that they can sell it out. But solopreneurs are not bothered about a buyout and do not plan to hand over their much-loved venture to anyone else. They passionately love what they do and wish to keep it their own till the very end. However, there are many entrepreneurs who might turn down buyout offers and solopreneurs who may agree to sell the business out in time if the situation demands it.

WHY YOU SHOULD NOT GO THE SOLOPRENEUR WAY

While most of you may be attracted by the idea of becoming a solopreneur or taking on the challenge single-handedly, it is important to know that this is not the most rewarding or fun path to choose for your future. Starting, running and then trying to make your business a success can be very scary, especially if you are not equipped with boundless knowledge and the skills to implement this knowledge. Not only is the path laden with uncertainties but it also demands a lot of hard work. The following are some of the other reasons why you should probably give up on the idea of being a solopreneur.

1.   You are your biggest roadblock

One of the main reasons why you should not consider becoming a solopreneur is that you are your biggest roadblock. Since you are the only person involved in the business and have to handle each of the tasks yourself, if you do not do some work, then it won’t be done at all. This means that if you don’t feel motivated to perform the various duties on certain days, you won’t have anyone to lean on and may prove to your own biggest enemy. If you are considering going the solo way, you must first consider your own potential and motivation level before taking the plunge.

2.   Separation of personal and business finances is difficult

When you open up a business of your own, you tend to set up a different account for your professional finances. But even with the separation of accounts, keeping the money separate can be very difficult. So, for example, if you run out of money in your personal account, you will be forced to borrow some from your business account and vice-versa. But mixing of finances is inevitable as a solopreneur and often leads to legal hassles.

3.   Can be exhausting

From the initial steps of planning your business to handling marketing, and from organizing your finances to making the sales, you are the one who will be looking after all departments of the business, day after day. Not only does this prove physically exhausting but also mentally tiring. So even if you are on a vacation or an off day, your mind will be still on the tasks that need to be performed like the mail that has to be sent or the payment that is to be received. Being a solopreneur can be really exhausting, and most people may crack under the pressure. This is another reason why one must avoid going this way.

4.   Lack of collaboration

Since there are no employees or team members with whom you can share ideas, you may often experience a feeling of lack of collaboration as a solopreneur. If you are someone who likes to brainstorm ideas and work within a team as a joint force, then this field of work is not suitable for you. Solopreneurs do not have the luxury of delivering results in collaboration with a group of people and have to trust their own judgment at each step of the business.

5.   Things can get extremely lonely

One of the biggest drawbacks of being a solopreneur is that things tend to get extremely lonely around the workplace. There is no one with whom to share office gossip, no one with whom to take a coffee break and no one with whom to discuss your plans. It is a job where you may have to spend long hours in your office (or home office) alone and share the company of only a computer system. If you have been working with a company or a corporate entity for a long time, you may not be able to adjust to the quiet life of a solopreneur.

6.   Experiencing failure can be overwhelming as a solopreneur

Another reason why you should not consider being a solopreneur is that experiencing failure can prove to be very overwhelming. Since you work very hard on building your business, experiencing failure can be very disappointing and may mean starting over from square one. Also, there is no one with whom you can share your failure, and you have to bear the brunt of it all on your own. Not everyone has the strength to deal with this alone.

7.   Lack of resources

When you work alone, it is you who has to acquire all the resources and make them last for the maximum amount of time. But it can be very difficult to ensure a good supply of resources all the time, especially when you have much more important matters to take care of. Also, not everyone has the skill to ask for help or maintain a constant stream of both financial and other resources. This may lead to a lack of resources which can prove fatal for your business.

8.   Lack of validation

The reason why teams tend to produce better results than individuals is because each member can validate or improve the ideas of the others. Every individual craves validation and appreciation, which is something that is not possible for solopreneurs. You won’t be able to get feedback or have your ideas critiqued when you work solo, and this can result in a narrow way to approach different matters.

9.   Not for everyone

Solopreneurship is not for everyone. Only those with a gamut of skills, unique characteristics and exceptional multi-tasking abilities can achieve success in this path of work. Solopreneurship is:

  • Not ideal for those who are not good at networking – Only with exceptional communication and networking skills can one succeed as a solopreneur. These skills are needed to make and maintain contacts, find more business and obtain resources. Thus, those who do not have networking abilities may not be able to work well as solopreneurs.
  • Not ideal for those who cannot multi-task – Someone who cannot juggle between different tasks and manage each effectively may not be the best candidate for solopreneurship. This field of work requires completion of a large number of tasks successfully on a daily basis and only a person with these skills can fit into this profile.
  • Not ideal for those who lack financial knowledge – If you are someone who is scared of working with and managing business financials on your own, then this field is probably not for you. From handling accounts to allocating budgets, you will have to have exceptional financial knowledge to succeed as a solopreneur.
  • Not ideal for those who are used to working as a team – if you are someone who is only comfortable working in a team or among a group of people, then you will find the field of solopreneurship extremely tough to handle. Here, you are a one-man team with no support staff or colleagues with which to share challenges.
  • Not ideal for those who are not tech-savvy Not only does a solopreneur need to be familiar with technology, software and the internet, but he also needs to be an expert at these. Only a tech-savvy individual can dream of succeeding as a solo-business owner.
  • Not ideal for those who do not like taking risks – If you hate taking risks and prefer working within your comfort zone, then you should probably find a nine-to-five job that offers job security. A solopreneur has to take risks each step of the way to move toward brighter possibilities, however scary the risks might seem.

10.   Can be stressful

Performing a large number of tasks day after day and being responsible for success single-handedly can prove to be very stressful. From the stress of making money to the stress of acquiring resources, the list is endless. The load of the work responsibilities and the possibility of failure can make anyone crumble, while the stress may also affect the performance of the individual.

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Awesome write up! I'm a solopreneur with all the qualities listed. Still working to build 3 companies from scratch and barely scraping by. Living in dad's basement. I'm 31 yrs old. But I believe in the next 5-10 years I'll eventually make close to 6 figures possibly 6 figures+++. I'm 4 years into my journey.