Your side hustle doesn't have to stay a side hustle. It's now easier than ever to launch and run a business from just about anywhere, including the convenience of the kitchen table. And while you might daydream about having an assistant, an accountant or even just someone to punch up your website, the truth is, you don't need a single employee to build your empire. The way of the solopreneur is to strike out on their own. And while staff (or a storefront) isn't necessary to your success, you are going to need a few essential qualities that are.
What is a solopreneur?
Solopreneurs are bosses. In a Lizzo sort of way, sure, but also quite literally. They start and run a business all by themselves. Which puts everything from conceptualizing to planning to doing all in their hands. Sound like a lot? Yup. Sound like the perfect gig for the independent organizational expert with lots of energy and ideas? It's that, too. Not for everyone, obviously, but when that shoe fits, it's a match made in entrepreneurial heaven.
Keep in mind, just because someone starts out as a solopreneur doesn't mean that's where she'll end up. Businesses grow, a staff gets added and operations expand. Solopreneurship isn't forever. Unless, of course, that's exactly where you want to stay.
12 Qualities of a successful solopreneur.
Let's face it: if your heart isn't in this venture, you're not going to last very long. Solopreneurs are driven by more than a desire to succeed or make a bucket full of money. What else but love can get you up early before work to draft out a business plan, or keep you up late at night strategizing website content and brand building? Building and promoting your business will require endless amounts of passion for what you do.
2. Work ethic.
You're going to be the only one cracking the whip here, so if you don't know how to manage your time effectively and stay on task, this whole venture of yours could slowly (or quickly!) peter out into one more thing you once thought about doing. You know those people who say, "Oh yeah, I always wanted to do that"? A solid work ethic is one of the things that separates the successful solopreneur from those would've/could've folk.
The plan you have today may not be the plan that ultimately gets you where you want to go. Anyone who's ever taken a road trip and encountered construction can understand that. It's a simple concept: situations change, and you need to be able to adapt yourself and your biz accordingly if you want to survive.
As with life, so with business. The successful solopreneur can stay on task and remain goal-oriented, while also staying loose enough to zig instead of zag, flowing around obstacles and challenges rather than being bowled over by them. Having a healthy dose of creativity will turn a lot of those obstacles into opportunities.
5. Media savviness.
You will be the entirety of your advertising and marketing departments. Yes, having a brilliant product or service is crucial to success, but just as important is the ability to tell people about it. Building a brand and a community around it is such a very important part of becoming and staying a successful solopreneur.
Being a solopreneur means being a problem solver, because it really is all on you. And that can be quite intimidating. But if you've got that pioneer spirit in you, if you're a "Wagons, West!" kind of gal, then you'll dig (and not ditch) all the challenges that walk hand in hand with the rewards of being the sole owner/operator.
Solopreneurs rely on themselves because they believe in themselves and their vision. This isn't to say there won't be times when you need to have a good cry or want nothing more than to take a nap and make the world go away. But solopreneurs tackle those moods the way they deal with any challenge: head-on and with an eye always toward the future.
Confidence and self-reliance share the same underlying core characteristic that is grit. It's the hero element, really. Because it's a big scary thing, taking your idea seriously enough to develop, grow and believe in it, to take the leap, quit that day job and go all in. That takes more than just guts. It takes grit.
9. People skills.
Networking is one skill that will never go away. Again, you have to let the world know you're here. Social media savvy is obviously essential, but never rule out the value of face-to-face interactions. Networking events and even casual chats at the coffee shop can both yield contacts of immeasurable value to the solopreneur.
10. A love of homework.
Launching a business on your own, regardless of what kind it is, requires a good deal of research, homework and, yeah, even paperwork. Unless you want and can afford to outsource this step (and, being a solopreneur, you'll probably want to do it all yourself, at least at first), having a love for going deep and learning minutiae is key.
11. Passion for doing over earning.
In the early days of any business, your pockets aren't going to be flush. And that's scary. So scary, in fact, that many, many more people daydream about starting a biz and quitting the day job than actually do it. Successful solopreneurs are able to live on their nerves when things get tight. They can make it through those tough times.
12. Management and organization skills.
Solopreneurs are boss-level organizers. No one else is going to respond to emails, book and meet with clients, post to social media, blog, strategize, network... And that's a lot of balls to keep up in the air. Which means being a successful solopreneur also means being a master juggler. They have to be in order to make those big level biz moves while keeping all the little daily ducks in a row at the same time.
- Events organizer
- Social media manager
- Small business owner (online)
- Small business owner (storefront)
- Fashion designer
- Interior designer
- Online personality/influencer (YouTube, podcasts and social media)
- Life/biz coach
- Personal trainer
- Website designer
- App or software developer
- Landscape/garden designer
- Personal assistant
- Personal/professional cleaner
- Yoga instructor
- Bed and breakfast owner
- Personal chef
Becoming a successful solopreneur isn't easy. Hard work and persistence are as essential to your business endeavor as they are to life. But if you've got the grit, gumption and dream, why not take the leap into business? Why not try?
The world is full of people saying "someday," "I always wanted to try" and "I wish I would have." In the end, if you're thinking of making a go as a solopreneur, ask yourself: Would I rather do the work or deal with the regret? A true solopreneur won't have to think long about her answer.