You’ve been in business a couple of years, and you’re at the re-evaluation stage, wondering if you should change things up. Are you happy to continue operating your business as an independent operator? Are you more interested in being a systems administrator with established processes to help you develop with your team? 2019 41.1 million Americans were solopreneurs—comprised of freelancers, contractors, consultants, and business owners without teams.
It’s exciting to be a solopreneur. You have a business that you’re passionate about. There is no one you have to answer to. Everything is yours.
But what’s the down side?
All is up to you.
Solopreneurs are not meant to be a solepreneur for the entirety of their business venture. All it comes down to your personal goals, fulfillment and how you plan your life.
Here’s everything you need to know about if and when you should (or should not) make the transition from solopreneur to entrepreneur.
What a difference
Many solopreneurs consider themselves entrepreneurs—and they’re not wrong. Solopreneurs, who are entrepreneurs that rely on themselves and their vision to run the business, rather than having an internal team. The business owner is responsible for everything that makes it possible, including marketing, sales, and client delivery. Solopreneurs might hire contractors or freelancers for special projects such as logos and graphics. Perhaps, solopreneurs may also hire freelancers to outsource the tasks where they’re weak or have zero interest, however, most of the business execution is handled by the solopreneur. Solopreneurs can be dependent on their cash flow, particularly if they’re a specialist in custom-made deliverables.
Entrepreneurs tend to be focused on developing a system, and then a team. This allows them to continue their visionary role. Entrepreneurs want to grow the company, hire more employees, offer more products and services, and make it more profitable. While entrepreneurs may be able to learn the basics of running a business, they are not able to handle the delivery and execution. Entrepreneurs instead focus on their business’ growth. They’re primarily pouring their energy into ways the business can continue to scale, even if they step away.
For whom is the switch right?
If you’re a solopreneur and you are considering switching to becoming an entrepreneur, chances are you’re overwhelmed and overworked. You’ve been carrying the load on your own, and let’s face it, it can get heavy without support. You may decide that the company should grow and be managed by you. You don’t want to do it alone anymore. This is the important question you need to ask. What team do I require? Or what systems and processes are better for me?
Social media, ads, and funnel strategist, April Wilhelm of Wilhelm Media Group, says she knew the switch from solopreneur to entrepreneur was right for her when she found herself getting burnt out and doing work she wasn’t excited about every day. “I was extremely successful as a solopreneur,” Wilhelm said, “but as my business grew and my personal life changed…I was getting burnt out and needed more flexibility while still having the same success.”
However, the process isn’t always linear. Wilhelm returned to solopreneurship after a time, and is now slowly building her team, having learned the leadership skills necessary to become a CEO.
If you have no desire to grow a business beyond yourself or beyond your lifetime, and you’re more ease-oriented than ROI-oriented (meaning you’d rather work four days a week than make more money), chances are that you simply have a systems problem. Sometimes you may have to outsource five hours a week to freelance virtual assistants. Your sales and marketing needs may be enhanced by more automation. Look at where there may be some time and energy leaks in your business and see if there’s a system, process, or automation that can plug that hole for you. You may need to hire a consultant or coach to assist you in identifying areas where your company can be strengthened and streamlined. It may not be necessary to have a staff.
TD, a owner of a copywriting company, decided to transition from an entrepreneur with a group to a solopreneur. When asked about why she chose solopreneurship, TD said, “I wanted to be a better businesswoman, and I felt really disconnected when I wasn’t focused on the business end of it all. I’m more nimble this way. I can act in the moment as inspiration strikes.” Making the change from entrepreneur to solopreneur let TD have more direct control over the business.
You may consider entrepreneurship if you are ready to let the business run on its own or if you wish to create a business with a strong legacy that will grow even after your death. Solopreneurs have difficulty generating enough income so they are able to travel, take rest, or work in the company. As a result, this can cause serious burnout and other health problems, including mental, emotional, as well as physical. Hiring a team to take the load off of you and grow the business whether you’re present every day or not is a great reason to hang up the solopreneur hat—but it doesn’t have to be drastically different from what the business looks like today.
For example, you may only need to hire one assistant in order to get the tasks off of your plate that aren’t allowing you to grow or take care of yourself. You may be unable to manage your projects or organize well. An OBM is an online business manager. If sales aren’t your favorite thing, you may need to hire a small sales team to take over your sales process for you. Regardless of who you bring on, you don’t have to go from zero to a full-fledged company overnight. It’s a process, and you start one hire at a time based on your most pressing need.
You can switch to solopreneur at another moment. However, instead of going from solopreneur into entrepreneur you go from being an entrepreneur to solepreneur. There are many factors that can cause this, including divorce, business changes, new businesses, growth, exits, and other financial transitions. Personal branding strategist, Kimra Luna, said, “Being on this (solopreneur) path right now has primarily been because I’m rebuilding my brand, starting over, and really wanting to take things slow. I learned a lot of things from hiring in the past, and so now it’s made me more mindful about how quickly I hire.”
When asking Luna what led to the decision to start over as a solopreneur instead of going straight to entrepreneurship, she replied, “I know how to grow, I’ve done it before. Also, I prefer to take things slow and be more mindful. So that I, for one, don’t burn myself out. But for two, once you have people on your team, you’re managing more than just yourself. Now you’re actually managing multiple people, and that can become very draining as well. So I want to make sure that I really have the capacity—energetically, timewise, and financially —to bring on people in the right roles.”
How to Switch
If being a one-person show doesn’t work anymore, and you want the business to scale without you (or you’re experiencing burnout and you’re considering burning your business to the ground—which is more common than you’d think), you may want to consider switching to entrepreneurship. Here are some questions and things you might want to ask before making that final decision.
- Have you implemented all of the automated systems that will help you run your business, and you’re still experiencing burnout?
- Do you have a list of menial tasks that are specialized, such as graphic design or webpage design?
- Are you able to streamline and optimize your time? Standard operating procedures, project management tools, and time management calendar blocking aren’t just tools for companies. They’re life-savers for solopreneurs too.
- Have your goals for the business changed? Would you like to be more legacy-based in your approach?
Your answers to these questions will let you know if it’s truly time to make a change or show you exactly where you should focus your efforts first if you do want to stay a solopreneur.
Solopreneurship is a powerful journey, and like anything worthwhile, there’s a lot of trial and error. It’s normal for there to be seasons of overwhelm in your business, especially if you’re just starting or in the process of growing. However, if there’s sustained overwhelm, check your systems, processes, and automation first. If these things work for you then perhaps it’s time to rethink your business structure.
Is it Possible to Transition from Solopreneur To Entrepreneur? Here’s How to Know first appeared on Addicted 2 Success.