How to Prepare for Your First Solopreneurship
For generations, the standard employer/employee model dominated the global economy. And the concept of entrepreneurship was something only a daring few embraced. But in recent years, things have changed. Today, becoming an entrepreneur is easier — and more appealing — than ever.
The reason for it is the fact that starting your own business isn't the heavy lift that it used to be. With digital tools at one's disposal, starting a business from scratch no longer comes with the need for large amounts of startup capital and the hiring of costly staff. And the proof is in the statistics.
In the US today, there are now over 41 million people working as solopreneurs, which is the term used to describe someone running a one-person business. That's more than a quarter of the total workforce. And that number keeps growing each year.
So, if you'd like to become a solopreneur, there's never been a better time to do it. But don't take the popularity of solopreneurship to mean that it's an easy thing to pull off. It's not. To succeed, you've got to take some deliberate steps to lay the groundwork for your venture. And then, you've got to master the mindset of the solopreneur if you want to create a stable and thriving one-person business. Here's how.
Preparation Is the Key to Solopreneur Success
When you decide to go out on your own and launch a solopreneurship, the last thing you want to do is be hasty. After all, your livelihood is at stake. What you need to do is take a measured approach — not go all in and end up in over your head. Here are the preparatory steps you should take.
Achieve Financial Stability
Your first goal should be to make yourself as financially secure as possible before you take the plunge. Most experts on the subject suggest that you have at least six months of living expenses saved up before you leave your full-time job. But that's just the bare minimum. If possible, you should save up at least twice that — even if you have to be extra frugal in your spending.
And on top of that, do your best to pay down any outstanding debts and improve your credit score, so you'll have some credit flexibility to work with. When you're starting a one-person business, you'll benefit from low startup costs, but that doesn't mean you won't have to spend some money. And revolving credit lines are a great way to cover those costs without digging into your savings.
Build a Professional Network
One of the big misconceptions involved with being a solopreneur is that you have to handle every aspect of your work alone. But that's not always the case. Once you have paying customers, there's no reason that you can't farm out some of your work. But there's one thing you have to do first: build a professional network of freelancers you can trust.
A great place to start is by joining some networking sites geared toward freelancers. "There's a whole world full of subject experts you can call on for help as a solopreneur. And many of them will be in a similar position as you, looking for others to support them in their efforts to build solopreneurships," says Javier Camara, CEO of beBee, a top platform for freelancers to sell their gigs and network. And the deeper the connections you forge in advance, the easier it will be for you to scale up to handle whatever work comes your way.
Create a Marketing Plan You Can Execute
More than anything else, the key to sustainable success as a solopreneur lies in creating a customer pipeline to feed your bottom line. And that means marketing your business effectively. But unless you're a marketer by trade, you probably don't have the skills required to do that on your own. So, your first step is to read up on marketing tactics suited for solopreneurs.
Then, you can draw up a marketing plan that you believe yourself capable of executing. And if you feel that you'll need some marketing training to do it, that's fine. You can find appropriate online coursework — much of it for free — to help you build the skills you need. You can also take advantage of digital marketing software to help in your efforts. By leveraging things like social media automation tools, you can manage a multichannel marketing strategy all by yourself.
Choose an Appropriate Business Structure
The last preparatory step you should take before launching your solo business is to choose the most advantageous business structure for your particular situation. For most people, an LLC makes a good choice due to its pass-through tax advantages. But depending on the nature of the work you're going to do, you might wish for the added legal protection that comes with registering as a corporation.
But remember — you can change your business's structure in the future if your needs change. For example, it's quite common for solopreneurs to switch their business from an LLC to an S corporation once they start earning enough recurring income. At that point, they may save on their tax bills by avoiding the self-employment taxes associated with LLCs.
Developing Your Solopreneurial Mindset
After you've made the preceding preparations, you may think you're ready to quit your full-time job and get started as a solopreneur. But before you do — you will also need to prepare yourself mentally for the challenge ahead. You see, being a solopreneur is as much about mindset as it is about skill set. And if you're not ready to do what's necessary, you'll be setting yourself up for failure.
For example, if you're naturally an introvert, you'll need to learn how to get out of your comfort zone and stay there. You'll have to get yourself used to sending cold emails and dealing with rejection because you'll inevitably end up doing plenty of both. And most of all, you're going to have to learn how to look at things from your clients' perspectives rather than your own.
By doing that, you'll put yourself in a position to earn the loyalty of the clients that use your services. And as a solopreneur, that's what it's all about. To succeed over the long term, you need to think about how everything you do today affects your prospects for tomorrow. It's a shift in thinking that isn't easy to make but is essential to the success of a solopreneur.
Ready for the Journey Ahead
If you manage to make it through all of the preparations and feel comfortable adopting the mindset of the solopreneur, you'll be in an excellent position to thrive in your new venture. But don't forget — you'll only get as much out of the experience as you're willing to put in. So, give it everything you've got and put your best foot forward as you navigate the journey that lay ahead.
About the Author
Philip Piletic: My primary focus is a fusion of technology, small business, and marketing. I’m a writer, marketing consultant and guest author at several authority websites.