Entrepreneurs have been around for a while, but only in recent years (Google Trends) did the term “solopreneur” start to gain traction. The Internet is probably a huge part of that, as it makes it much easier to work completely alone, especially if you work in the digital realm.
Most people aren’t sure what the differences between an entrepreneur and solopreneur are. While the differences are relatively subtle, they are definitely different, in purpose, overall lifestyle, and much more.
So, what’s the difference between a solopreneur and an entrepreneur? It’s simple really; while one (the entrepreneur) starts a business with thoughts of expanding by growing her team or selling her business once it gets to a certain stage, the other (the solopreneur) works alone with no intention of eventually setting up an office with countless cubicles filled with employees.
To be honest, the differences are small, especially as many entrepreneurs start out as solopreneurs; solopreneurs might even start their business thinking they want to keep it to just them, but could find that over time they want to take their business to the next level and eventually become entrepreneurs.
I’ve personally done it the other way around. I’ve been a solopreneur for years now, but I started out as more of an entrepreneur. I set up and grew a business, got an office, got buyout offers and everything; once I sold my business though, I realised it wasn’t what I really wanted to do with my life. After seeing and experiencing both sides of the coin, I realised that I preferred to be a solopreneur.
Simple, really – I wanted to do it all on my own. I wanted to have financial stability while also having enough time to spend with my family, which in many ways was the reason why I started my own business in the first place. I knew that I could do it, that I could be successful completely on my own, without having to depend on others and eventually be let down by them.
As an entrepreneur, I barely had any time to spend with my daughter. As a solopreneur, I was hoping I could finally find that work-life balance I was looking for all along.
I’ve tried a lot of things in the past years, business ideas and co-ventures, but in the end, I realised that where I was truly the happiest was when I both enjoyed the work I was doing and had time to spend with my family, especially my daughter. So, I became a solopreneur – and to this day, it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
As both an entrepreneur and a solopreneur, I believe the biggest difference between the two, for me, is that while the former is about growing until you can’t grow anymore, the latter is about finding the perfect balance for your individual needs between work and family life.
It’s about finding something that you enjoy doing and that you can do on your own – and then, turning it into a business that you can manage by yourself. I will go so far as to say that being a solopreneur is, at the end of the day, a lifestyle choice.
The life of a solopreneur isn’t for everyone, though. Just like with entrepreneurship, you don’t have the financial stability that you would have with long-term employment, for example. Some months can be difficult. You might not be bringing in any money. Other months, when all the stars are aligned and everything is going smoothly, you could be making money hand over fist.
Another big aspect of solopreneurship, is of course, the “solo” part of it. Working alone is definitely not for everyone – it can be difficult and stressful. At times, it’s hard to find the motivation you need to keep going when you don’t have a manager or colleague to help guide you.
Solopreneurs don’t necessarily work completely alone though; the big difference is that they don’t hire people like other businesses would do. Rather, they find freelancers and contractors, work with people online (such as a virtual assistant) and so on.
In most cases, the people you hire will help you deal with day-to-day business dealings and help with aspects that you don’t know anything about (such as legal advice or accounting, for example) but at the end of the day, you are still the business. You make the decisions. From the hours you work, to the work you take on, there’s no one that you need to answer to.
It’s also quite daunting to know that the success of your business and the results you get from it rest solely on your shoulders. If something goes wrong, it’s completely your responsibility; but at the same time, if something goes the right way, it’s an incredible feeling to know that it’s your doing that got you to that point.
The question you really need to ask yourself is if the highs will be enough to help you deal with the lows. Solopreneurship is very much a high risk/high reward game. I think you need to have a certain type of personality to be able to deal with that. This is one of the big reasons why I feel that being a solopreneur is really, at its core, a lifestyle choice.
As a solopreneur, you also have to be ready for the unpredictable; at least, that’s the case with me and my business. There’s no one week that’s really the same as the last for me, and I’m never sure where I’m going next most of the time. I can’t even remember the last time I had a full, complete week of working only from at home.
While I certainly do complain about missing the comfort of my work desk, I have to admit I love always going to conferences and meet-ups, networking and meeting new, wonderful people, and traveling to all kinds of beautiful countries and continents. That’s what makes it more of an adventure, and makes all of the stress that comes with being a solopreneur completely worth it.
Being a solopreneur is hard, hard work. It’s a high-risk game, but if you get it right and it’s something that you want to do well, then it’s completely worth it, at least in my opinion.
It’s an incredible experience that allows you to learn a lot about yourself during the process and one that truly allows you to become your own boss, even more so than you would as an entrepreneur. There’s no one to answer to but yourself (and, of course, your clients) – no boards or shareholders, no bosses or managers, no employees.Business & Finance Articles on Business 2 Community