Why be a solo entrepreneur?

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While teams are great – they allow you to draw from lots of different experiences – there are also difficulties in managing a team. It is increasingly common for founders to start along – the Solo Entrepreneur, or  ‘Solopreneur’ for short. This article explores the benefits of going it alone.

Recognizing that size does not equal success

When you start reading stories of successful entrepreneurs it is easy to think that success means being big – Tesla, Apple, Google – the billion-dollar firms that exemplify many entrepreneurs’ desires.

While some founders will have the desire for these mega-successes, this does not capture the dreams of many entrepreneurs. For most founders, their intent is not to be the next Bill Gates or Elon Musk, but rather more modest in nature – to create a firm that supports them and their family, while ideally allowing flexibility to pursue their interests and manage their own time.

Achieving the success of generating a sustainable (or supplementary) source of income, while maintaining flexibility, does not necessarily mean big – in fact, going it alone is often the easiest path to achieving these more modest, and oftentimes realistic, ambitions.

Benefits of going it alone

Freedom to set your own terms

One of the main reasons why individuals consider starting a business is to gain flexibility to set their own terms – to decide for themselves when they are going to work, where from, and what directions they are going to peruse. If you are your own boss this is easy to achieve – you directly control your path.

If you are working with a partner on the other hand this is a lot harder to guarantee – they may have their own desires of the direction to take the firm, which may result in you being pulled in a direction that given the choice you would not peruse.

You may also find that your ability to guilt-free set your own work schedule is also reduced. As a solo-entrepreneur you are free to dictate your own schedule – if you want to take a two week pause on orders for a holiday, while it may not always make business sense to do so, there is no one else’s permission that you require to make this decision. If you have others as part of your business, you now have to manage the expectations of others. Taking a pause while another partner continues can quickly cause tensions.

Eliminate internal conflicts

More broadly, many internal business conflicts are removed by going it alone. As a solo entrepreneur, you have the freedom to change your business plan as you choose – if you one day decide you want to move into a new area, you are free to do so without needing to consult a partner.

On the other hand, if you are in a partnership with another founder this suddenly becomes a lot more difficult to negotiate. Your ambitions start to become entwined with theirs, and your opinions may not always align. Similarly, if they decided they want to change the operations of the firm, this can cause substantial conflict.

Not only are disagreements within a startup likely to increase the stress that you may have running your firm (potentially detracting from the lifestyle reason many founders set up a firm), but it can also lead to the firm breaking apart. Substantially differences in outlook between you and your partners, both in orientation for the firm and ambition of what you want the company to become, are unlikely to be helpful in launching a business. 

Reduce the stress, and cost, of having employees

One of the most stressful parts of running a business is managing employees. Often times founders lack the experiences to successfully motivate and manage their staff – not a stress-free task by any means.

Employing staff also increases the pressure to turn a profit for the firm. It is a lot easier to live a comfortable lifestyle off a modest-sized business if you are the only beneficiary of the firm’s profits, rather than if you have a series of staff to pay. Indeed, particularly at the early stages of a company, when revenue may be slim to none, this can be the difference between just getting by, and making an unsustainable loss. While sales of $20,000 may be sufficient to live off, having to pay staff out of this pot can turn a small, but profitable business, into a loss. 

Fast decision making

One benefit of not having partners is that you can make decisions a lot quicker than you would otherwise be able to. Rather than having to convince others to get on board, you can pivot your business in new directions as you see fit. Not only does this reduce the stress of making strategic change, as discussed above, but fast decision-making can also contribute to company success.

Launch your business quickly

Finding a partner whose ambitions are in-line with yours can be difficult. You may have very specific objectives in mind about what you want to achieve, and finding someone who has a similar outlook is not always an easy task. By going it alone you avoid the need to convince someone else to buy into your vision, allowing you to launch the business much quicker than if you are looking to ‘recruit’ someone to join your team. 

It is easier than ever to start a business alone

It is now easier than ever to go it alone and start a company even on a shoe-string budget. It is no longer unusual to see ‘side-gigs‘, with solo entrepreneurs deciding to begin a small business potentially in addition to their main job. With tools that make it simple to create a website or launch an online store, coupled with substantial easy access to advice and experiences online, it is now feasible for more people than ever to begin the entrepreneurship journey. If you are considering starting a business, see our list of the top 5 skills for solo entrepreneurs to develop

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