When you hear about people starting their own business, they are often referred to as an entrepreneur. But there’s another term that although it’s not new, it’s become more popular as of late – solopreneur. Many entrepreneurs start out as solopreneurs, meaning they are the only “employee” of the company, but if you plan on working by yourself forever with no plans to add staff – Yup, you are a solopreneur. The terms are often interchangeable but there are some very distinct although subtle differences between the two.
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To be clear, neither solopreneurship nor entrepreneurship is better or worse. Neither is easier or more difficult. These are two very different, but equally valid, ways to build a business.
Buying vs. Building. When it comes to building a business, many entrepreneurs are happy to put in the blood, sweat, and tears, but they usually aren’t as attached to the business as a solopreneur. Many entrepreneurs build their business with the plan of selling to a larger company or hiring someone else to run it so they can move on to the next idea. Entrepreneurs have no problem building a variety of businesses over the course of their career. Once it’s running smoothly, they often exit to start another venture.
Solopreneurs start businesses to fit their desired lifestyle and, in many cases, to pursue a personal passion. They usually have little interest in creating an empire or looking for a buyer to sell to. They are usually tired of working for someone else and want flexibility and control. Solopreneurs tend to work on just one company consistently.
Working In vs. On. While both types work hard on the business, solopreneurs are usually more focused on working in the business to get the work done. Entrepreneurs are usually happy to leave some responsibility with the team and spend more time out doing sales, networking, and just getting the word out. It’s not that solopreneurs can’t be great networkers, as well, they can and are, but they are solely responsible for the work getting done.
Delegating vs. Doing. Entrepreneurs enjoy managing others and building their team. Even if they start as a solopreneur, an entrepreneur is waiting for the day they can start building their empire – they are comfortable leading and relying on a team of people to accomplish their goals. Solopreneurs have a harder time outsourcing or delegating work, they prefer to handle most if not all of it themselves. They enjoy being knee deep in all the workings of what it takes to complete projects. Solopreneurs are workers by nature.
Entrepreneurs are more likely to also have an office outside of the home – a place to network, take meetings, and have employees work. Not that solopreneurs can’t have space outside the home, but most are more than happy to work from a home office. Unless you are at Red Barn – we are 100% virtual – no brick and mortar.
The distinction between a solopreneur and entrepreneur can be difficult to see, especially since so many entrepreneurs start out working alone. But the mindset of a solopreneur and entrepreneur are subtly different and noting those differences can help professionals determine the long-term direction they’ll take with their businesses.