And the skill-juggling business-builders
Born in the outrageously fluorescent 90s as a blend of the words – you guessed it – “Solo” and “entrepreneur”, it’s a term that seems almost as fashionable as millennial pink these days.
Hold on, is solopreneur even a real word?
Aren’t entrepreneurs just slapping on a new prefix to highlight their self-sufficiency?
Have I got news for you! Solopreneurs are, as the young people say, “valid”.
Solopreneur: A self-employed individual who starts, builds, and runs a business without hiring employees.
On a hypothetical evolutionary tree of employment, we can say that solopreneurs branch off from entrepreneurs and adopt the trademark independence of freelancers. They build their empire, then reign over it.
Don’t get the wrong idea, they’re not over-stressed megalomaniacs. In fact, they delegate a variety of tasks to virtual assistants.
These multi-talented lone rangers also network and collaborate with other companies, solopreneurs, and even with their freelancing cousins.
“So what makes them different from freelancers and entrepreneurs?”
Entrepreneurs build and expand their business by hiring employees.
Freelancers do gigs for various companies and generally focus on making themselves more valuable by expanding their skill pool.
Solopreneurs build their business and brand but typically don’t have any intention of expanding the business beyond themselves.
Plainly put, the Es are directors of a symphony orchestra, Fs are stand-in musicians who offer their talent to various bands, while the aspiration of an S is to be an exceptionally gifted one-man band who occasionally collaborates with other musicians.
Why is everyone hopping on the train to “solo” self-employment?
Ever heard of the bus that used to take students from University straight to a well-paying career? Well, that bus crashed a while ago. It crashed straight into The Great Recession.
This, added to our advancements in communication technologies, has set the perfect scene for a new, “remote” Roaring 20s, with solopreneurs and freelancers as the main characters.
But why is it better to “go solo”?
- An improved work-life balance
- The higher ceiling on earning potential
- The chance to become a wielder of multiple skills
- Not having to answer to, or consult with, anyone but yourself
- A better shot at a fulfilling and rewarding career
- No more dreadful office politics
- The satisfaction of becoming the emblem of your business
These all seem like pretty compelling arguments. After all, good working conditions are never guaranteed, and wages can be unfavourably low.
Of course, there’s also that crippling existential crisis induced by the realisation that we’re “living to work” as opposed to “working to live”.
Which is exactly where companies are going wrong.
All workers, not just us elusive millennials, require flexibility to protect themselves from the dangers of working long hours.
Employees also need to feel that what they’re doing in the company is meaningful.
According to one survey, 84% per cent of workers use enjoyment as a career success measure.
Despite this, a shocking 41% of UK employees don’t feel in sync with their organisation’s goals and almost half of them are sometimes, rarely, or never enthusiastic about their jobs.
But companies shouldn’t fret! There are two main ways in which companies can embrace these new working trends.
The first of which is to adopt flexible work practices.
Each person has his own rhythm and that rhythm needs to be respected, so companies should think about letting their employees choose what time to come to work (as long as they maintain the same working hours!).
For jobs that don’t require actual presence, it’s just a case of setting up a system that enables remote working. There are plenty of tools around, you just have to know where to look.
In addition to implementing flexible-working policies, corporations need to encourage creative thinking in the workplace. Employees should be able to feel comfortable sharing ideas, however bold they might be.
Perhaps if workers felt free to contribute with their creativity at work, they wouldn’t feel the need to break off to run their own show. Solopreneurs are, by nature, inventive. You can’t put a lid on a bubbling volcano of creativity unless you want the top to blow.
The second strategy is to actually employ the services of these solopreneurs and create valuable partnerships.
Retaining this kind of talent doesn’t have to be a task. Although companies should bear in mind some basics when entering into these sorts of partnership:
- Pay fairly
- Pay on time
- Be responsive
- Show appreciation
- Treat “solo” workers like part of the team
Most important of all – let their voices be heard! That inventive nature has to have an outlet somewhere!
Has reading this post invoked a sense of belonging?
Would you be cut out for solopreneurship?
See how many things you check off the list to see if you should go solo too!
- I think the 9 to 5 routine is tedious and uncomfortable
- My creativity flourishes when I’m on my own
- Skills – I want them all!
- I still haven’t started a business because I don’t want to shackle myself to anyone
- I want total control over which way my work goes
So, to go solo, or not to go solo? Only you have the answer to that question. When you do find the answer, there’s an entire community of solopreneurs and other independent workers waiting for you with open arms.
If you want to be a pro,
Then you gotta run the show!
If you value teamwork though,
With your crew you’ll have to grow.
By Awa Thiam
💜 Happy Planning!
From Emma at immerj
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