Feel unfulfilled and want to be your own boss? You’re not alone.
Thousands dream of solopreneurship. They want to build a career and life on their own terms.
But what is a solopreneur, exactly?
In 2013, I graduated from college with no job lined up but a modeling contract with an LA talent agency. That’s when I decided to forgo the traditional 9-to-5 path and work for myself.
Since then, I’ve explored countless one-person business ideas — some successful, some not so much. But through trial and error, I’ve learned a ton about what it means to be a solopreneur.
Now, with almost a decade of firsthand experience under my belt, I’m sharing my wisdom with you.
In this article, I’ll explain what solopreneurship is all about, drawing from personal stories and lessons. I’ll also share examples of popular solo business paths, and practical tips to help you thrive as a one-person business owner.
What is a solopreneur?
At its core, a solopreneur is a “solo entrepreneur.” They don’t have employees, partners, or team members. Solopreneurs take full ownership over every aspect of their companies, shouldering all risks, responsibilities, and rewards of their business ventures.
Are solopreneurs and entrepreneurs the same?
People often ask me, “solopreneurs vs. entrepreneurs — what’s the difference?”
At first thought, they seem similar. Both are business owners charting their own path.
But when you look closer, there are distinct differences:
- Work independently without a team
- Typically run small, niche businesses
- Link their personal brand to their businesses
- Make all decisions — big and small — and maintain full control
- Handle all aspects of their businesses solo, from accounting to marketing to sales
- Strive to scale up their companies
- Build a team to support their businesses
- Create a distinct brand beyond themselves
- Delegate tasks to focus on high-level strategy
- Consult with partners and team members before making big moves
Both solopreneurs and entrepreneurs own businesses, but they differ in terms of team size, branding, decision-making, and scale.
There’s no universal path to being a successful business owner — yours depends on your specific goals and unique strengths.
What solopreneurship means to me
Solopreneurship empowers me to work how and when I want, on projects I truly care about.
I’m my own boss…
Creating my own schedule.
Spending quality time with my family and friends.
Only saying ‘yes’ to opportunities that light me up.
Pursuing work that aligns with my passions and skills.
Collaborating with people who share my vibes and values.
Taking time off when I don’t feel well, like when my endometriosis flares up.
The best part of the solopreneur lifestyle? I design each workday around my life — not the other way around.
Don’t get me wrong — running a solo business is no walk in the park. But I wouldn’t trade the flexibility and autonomy for anything.
As a solopreneur, you get to build your business around your health needs and priorities. You don’t miss important moments because of a 9-to-5. You wake up motivated to do work with meaning.
That’s what solopreneurship is all about — calling your own shots.
The perks of solopreneurship
Becoming a solopreneur gives you the freedom to build your dream business. With the right mindset and strategy, you’ll enjoy the fruits of your own labor.
By embracing solopreneurship, you get to:
1. Make your own schedule
Decide when you work, where you work, and how much work you take on.
I love that I can work around doctor appointments, vacations, and family time — all without getting permission from someone else.
As a woman struggling with endometriosis (painful periods every month), being able to take days off when I really need it is priceless. Some days, my body just needs rest. It feels great knowing I don’t need to call in sick or worry about upsetting a boss.
2. Do what you love
Chasing your passion is the fastest route to a rewarding, profitable career.
When your work centers around something you care deeply about, an inner drive kicks in. You find the motivation to push through obstacles because your work feels more like a calling than a chore.
And that’s not all. Pursuing work you’re genuinely excited about also brings top-notch results. When you love what you do, you develop true mastery and talent. Clients notice and appreciate the care you put into each project.
You win, they win.
Personally? Letting my passion lead the way has given me a constant stream of energy and enthusiasm. I’m determined to turn my vision into reality — even when obstacles arise.
3. Become a life-long learner
Without the constraints of a conventional job, you’re free to expand your skills and business offerings.
I see each day as a chance to get better at what I do. When I’m not working, I’m learning new things through mentorship, online courses, and stepping out of my comfort zone.
My partners benefit from me improving my craft…
And I up my rates accordingly. No need to ask for or wait for a measly raise.
Downsides to consider
While I believe the upsides win out, solopreneurship does come with a few potential drawbacks to weigh:
1. You need incredible drive
Solopreneurship requires serious self-discipline and consistency to thrive.
Without a boss or team pushing you, you have to motivate yourself to get things done. Some days are easier than others.
Prefer structure and oversight? Going solo may not be for you.
But if you aren’t scared of calculated risks and love taking initiative, you’ll likely do well.
2. Income fluctuations
I won’t lie — going solo means income uncertainty at times. Some months, you could make $10,000+, and others only $2,500… or even nothing.
While employees enjoy regular paychecks, solopreneurs deal with workflow ebbs and flows.
That’s why proper planning is key to staying financially (and emotionally) afloat:
- Build a personal brand to attract leads
- Diversify your client roster
- Save for rainy days
Risk is part of the game — the sooner you learn to manage accordingly, the less you’ll freak out. And the less you freak out… the more mental energy you’ll have to grow your business. I speak from experience!
3. Social isolation
There’s no other way to put it — working alone can sometimes get… well, lonely.
At a company, you’re surrounded by colleagues, sharing ideas, and collaborating in person. As a solopreneur, you’ll have to proactively network and socialize to find your people.
If you’re an introvert like me, it may be hard to even know how or where to begin with networking. But with time and effort, you can build a tribe online and in person for support. I’ve made awesome industry friends on platforms like LinkedIn and Instagram.
How do solopreneurs work?
Solopreneurs use their talent and personal brand to provide value to clients.
Thanks to modern technology, it’s never been easier to build an audience and find people who need your products or services.
In a nutshell, here’s how the solopreneur business model works:
- Set a schedule that works for you
- Pick clients and projects that align with your goals
- Build a personal brand around your passions and superpowers
- Identify the skills, talent, and knowledge you bring to the table
- Find a profitable niche at the intersection of what you love to do and what serves people
Common paths for aspiring solopreneurs
Solopreneurship can look a million different ways — there are so many proven business models to choose from.
For example, you could sell your own products directly to customers. Source or create a physical item, then sell it online or to local markets.
Or, you could offer professional and creative services. Share your skills in writing, design, coaching, consulting, and more with people who need support in these areas.
Personally, I’m a service-based solopreneur. I manage my business remotely — writing blogs for B2Bs, ghostwriting content for founders, and mentoring new solopreneurs through the Internet.
The key to launching a lucrative solo business is identifying in-demand skills and expertise you have that could translate into a grand-slam offer.
Need ideas? Here are some common solopreneur paths to consider:
1. The Freelancer
Freelancers are self-employed professionals who offer their expertise to clients for specific tasks or projects. They earn per project and aren’t bound as regular employees.
Working autonomously, they handle their own schedules, tasks, and administrative duties.
Consider the following 10 possible freelance routes:
- Video editor
- Email marketer
- Virtual assistant
- Book ghostwriter
- Graphic designer
- Social media manager
2. The Mentor
Mentors possess deep experience and insights in particular domains, guiding people or teams to reach their maximum potential.
They provide valuable advice, share insights, and suggest strategies to help mentees navigate challenges, both personally and professionally.
Mentors often specialize in areas like:
- Personal branding
- Business leadership
- Career development
3. The Digital Course Creator
Solopreneurs who have a loyal audience can monetize their knowledge by creating and selling online courses.
The digital course creator:
- Sets up a platform to host their course content
- Promotes it to their target audience
- Facilitates discussions
- Builds a community
Topics like these work well for online courses:
- Video editing
- Email marketing
- Business strategy
- Personal branding
- Sales and outreach
- Artificial intelligence
The possibilities are endless when defining your solopreneurial journey.
Start with your skills and interests. Then, develop a business model that excites you.
Tips for thriving as a solopreneur
My mentees often ask, “How do I set myself up to be a profitable solopreneur?”
Here’s my trio of golden advice:
1. Find a profitable passion
Discover a passion that not only fires you up but also has the potential to bring in revenue.
- What are my passions?
- Which of my skills can be valuable to someone?
- What’s my unique flair that distinguishes me from others?
2. Establish your digital footprint
In this digital era, a personal brand isn’t a nice to have; it’s a necessity.
It’s the narrative you craft about yourself, your journey, and the unique value you bring to the table. More than a logo or a catchy slogan, your personal brand is the essence of who you are and what you represent.
Commit to one platform first
In the beginning, it’s tempting to be everywhere at once. But if you do this, you’ll end up nowhere.
Instead of spreading yourself too thin, think about where your ideal clients hang out. Start there. Build a loyal audience through impactful content and active networking. Expand later.
Identify your unique value proposition (USP)
Don’t be quick to shout into the void.
Introspect — what sets you apart in your industry?
It could be a specific skill, an unconventional approach, or even a unique blend of experiences.
Your USP will be the cornerstone of your brand — so think carefully.
People resonate with others who keep it real.
Don’t just flaunt your successes — talk about the hurdles you’ve faced and the lessons they’ve taught you. Share how you used ‘failure’ as an opportunity to grow.
Remember, authenticity breeds trust — a currency more valuable than gold in the digital world.
Engage and evolve
Your brand isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it kind of endeavor.
Engage with your audience. Seek feedback and evolve accordingly.
This is what will keep your brand vibrant and relevant.
Maintaining consistency helps people recognize your brand easily amidst the noise:
- Content creation frequency
- Visual elements like color and logo
- Communication tone and writing style
Once you’ve built a robust following on your main platform, consider diversifying into other spaces. It’s much easier to gain traction everywhere else once you have a solid audience in one place.
3. Nurture connections
Want referrals and fruitful partnerships? You’re going to need to network.
Immerse yourself in industry-specific communities, participate in relevant virtual events, and dive into online forums to bond with others.
Nobody gets to the top alone. Building a robust circle today will propel your solo venture forward — no matter what it is.
Become a solopreneur: Next steps
Solopreneurship is exciting. It’s your ticket to freedom.
The first step?
Stop waiting for the perfect moment (Spoiler alert: It doesn’t exist).
Jot down what your ideal business looks like, then take baby steps to make it happen.
This could look like:
- Brainstorming a business name
- Investing in a professional headshot
- Creating a landing page to showcase your work and offer
- Sending an introduction letter to someone new every day
- Optimizing your LinkedIn profile to help prospects find you
- Building a portfolio with “mock samples” (service providers)
- Telling friends and family about your new business (and how they can support you)
The most successful one-person business owners I know are the ones who started and kept pushing, no matter what.
So get out there — share your story, create thought leadership content, and learn from others.
And more importantly, don’t lose sight of why you wanted this in the first place.