Most people believe that you have only two choices: you can be an employee of someone else, or you can start a business and have others working for you.
As an employee, you have to perform up to the expectations of others: your bosses. That means working the hours they set, doing the work they give you, in the way they tell you to do it. In exchange, you get the security of a regular paycheck and benefits. Of course, we’ve all seen in the last several years that there is nothing secure about anyone’s paycheck.
Entrepreneurs work on their terms, but that doesn’t mean they have it easy. Launching a business requires a commitment of time and money, and may take all of both that the entrepreneur can scrape together. Often, the entrepreneur has not gone from slave to master, but has merely traded one master (the boss) for another (the business).
That brings us to an alternative: the Solo-preneur. The Solo-preneur chooses the work he wants to do. She decides how much or how little to work. He is not faced with the pressures of having to make a payroll, nor is he faced with the prospect of dragging himself to an office, day after day, to do the same old job. Most importantly, the Solo-preneur controls her own destiny. No one person can decide that the Solo-preneur will lose her livelihood.
In short, the Solo-preneur can have the best of both worlds: freedom from corporate bondage, without taking on the shackles of responsibility required to run a business. How, then, does the Solo-preneur make a living? By finding ways to turn his interests into profit centers. A profit center is any way of making money. You are not limited to one profit center; in fact, most Solo-preneurs have several, each bringing in a portion of their total income. We will talk about how you can establish multiple profit centers in a later chapter.
The Solo-preneur finds ways to make money doing the things he enjoys, while minimizing or eliminating the aspects of work he doesn’t want to do. An accountant may enjoy working with numbers, but is tired of the long hours and commuting of her present job. She could choose to start an accounting practice from her home and work only the hours she wishes, or she could spend part of her time doing accounting (perhaps working part time for her present employer, maybe even telecommuting), and part of her time developing a new profit center based on another hobby or interest.
Solo-preneurs may choose to earn all of their money through self-employment, or they may choose to have a part-time job or do contract or temp work in addition to starting one or more business ventures.
It’s important to remember that there aren’t a lot of rules about becoming a Solo-preneur. However, there are laws and regulations about small businesses. Although you won’t operate like a traditional entrepreneur, you are still subject to the laws imposed on business, so be sure you know what those laws are and abide by them. You will see more about this later in the book.
The key to Solo-preneuring is flexibility. Your enterprise can be as big or as little as you wish. You may start out small and grow to a large enterprise employing many others, or you may keep it small enough that you remain the only “employee.” You can pursue it full-time or part-time, or even in your spare time for extra income while you remain employed.
As a Solo-preneur, you may choose to do only one type of work. Or, you may combine two or more related functions, such as being an organizer and a virtual assistant. You may even combine two or more completely unrelated pursuits.
My personal experience illustrates what is possible. I worked in the insurance industry for about 15 years. In early 1994, I saw the unmistakable signs that my job was going to be eliminated within 6 months to a year.
When you are an employee and see your job is in danger, your first thought is that you have to find another job. I put a resume together and went on some interviews, and decided very quickly that I did not want another job. But I didn’t think I wanted to start a business, either. And I wasn’t sure that the businesses in which I was interested would generate the work (and the income) I needed as quickly as I needed them to.
I started developing a fantasy about what my perfect job would be. After mulling it over for a few weeks, I realized that I could make my fantasy a reality. Instead of expecting my income to come from one job or one business, I could do several different things, each of which would provide a part of my income.
Now I had a plan. I started implementing my plan, and I actually started looking forward to getting laid off. When it finally happened on October 31, 1994, I was ready to hit the ground running.
That original plan has changed and evolved over the years, as new opportunities presented themselves, and I moved on from some of the things I had been doing. I can do anything that interests and challenges me, take on new roles, and shed the ones that no longer fit. New technology has changed the way much of my business is conducted.
So far, I have earned income by presenting seminars which I sponsored, or were sponsored by colleges, industry associations and other organizations, and as a contract seminar presenter for an international public seminar company. I have sold insurance, and conducted insurance enrollments as a contractor for insurance companies as well as through my own enrollment company. I’ve consulted in person and by phone with Solo-preneurs and small businesses all over the U.S. and in Canada. I’ve written and published a number of manuals, workbooks, booklets, ebooks, reports and other information products which I sell through seminars and speaking engagements, through bookstores and online booksellers, by mail order, through my own website, and through others. I get paid to shop and eat as a mystery shopper, and I’ve even been a movie extra.
Don’t be overwhelmed by that list. I didn’t do all of them at the same time. And you don’t have to develop a list as long as mine. The things I have done as a Solo-preneur have all come naturally, based on my interests and the opportunities I saw before me.
The biggest changes in my business have happened because of the Internet. There are so many ways to make money, starting with little or no money, that have been made possible by the Internet.
What has remained constant throughout my journey is that I control my own destiny. I decide which opportunities to pursue and which to let go. I decide how many hours I want to work. Ultimately, the choices I make are about the life I want to live, and how my work fits into that life.
Use your imagination and forget the old rules about how you are “supposed” to make money. This is a new age, and there are new possibilities.
Work doesn’t have to be drudgery. It can be enjoyable. And your life doesn’t have to be something you fit in around your work. Solo-preneurs mesh their work and their lives together, because they get satisfaction and other personal rewards from their work, not just money from doing a job.
Solo-preneurs can earn money through:
- a part-time or full-time job
- contract or temporary work
- direct sales
- one or more businesses they start and run
- any combination of the above.
There has never been a better time to be a Solo-preneur and create the life and work of your dreams!