I confess that I do not always play well with others. I am a bull-headed loner who likes to make fast decisions and not always bring them up for a vote first. That’s why I’m a “solo-preneur”, a one-person business. People who know me well have accused me of being unemployable, and they’ve expressed doubt about whether I would even last through the entire Monday morning meeting at a large corporation.
I’m not the only one. The government defines small businesses based on an industry-by-industry criteria. In some field, a company having 500 or fewer employers is considered to be “small.” In others, it takes only 100 or fewer employees to receive that title. Who are they kidding?
For most of us, small business means me and the face in the mirror, maybe a spouse, and that’s about it. If we hit five employees, we think we’re Microsoft or Toyota.
I once had a handful of employees, but now – like so many other self-employed men and women in this country – I love the freedom, control and flexibility of being able to work any 12 hours a day I choose, not worrying about how come a supply of 100 pens lasts only a month, being able to run my business from anywhere – my back-bedroom office or a beach on St. Maarten – and holding a board of directors meeting on a leisurely stroll along the Ice Age Trail in Kewaunee County with Rocky and Toni, my staff of two, who work for treats and ear-scratches.
Seriously (actually, I am being dead serious), topping the list of “The Joys of Being A Solo-preneur” is the freedom. When I had employees, I worked for them. I had to schedule around their schedules and deal constantly with the problems of payroll, Social Security taxes, workers comp and unemployment insurance. I had some good people, don’t’ get me wrong. But I also had to keep a bottle of aspirin in my desk drawer.
The second joy of solo-preneurship is control. Though I plan every week in advance, I set my own schedule. I truly can take a working vay-cay (that’s my children’s term for vacation) where I can work in the morning, play with my grandkids in the afternoon, make a family feast for my clan for dinner, and then work a few hours through the quiet of the graveyard shift. Beautiful!
Then, there’s the flexibility. That’s why many women are solo-preneurs. They get to have a business AND stay home with the kids…or at least make sure they are at the door when the children get home from school.
Then there’s the simplicity. Thanks to the wonders of our vastly expanding technology, all I need these days to run my business is my cell phone, laptop computer and me. (When I moved to the Caribbean a few years ago, I compressed my entire business into a storage trunk, and I ran my company quite successfully that way for over a year.)
Finally – and this is the really cool part – you can be a solo-preneur and still be a big business. As a marketing strategist for companies ranging in size from mom ‘n pop shops to some of the largest financial services corporations in the world, I also have access to and relationships with some of the best talent in the world.
Through a loose affiliation of business professionals known as The Freestyle Entrepreneur (www.TheFreestyleEntrepreneur.com), I can bring together a team of techno-geek experts from Missouri and Ohio, writing talent from Florida and Iowa, and marketing backup from Massachusetts at the click of my mouse. No overhead. No payroll. Just on-demand services I can call in when I need them, just as they tap me when they have a need for my talents. (In fact, I have one associate I’ve worked with for three years and have never met.)
My point? You don’t have to become the next Wal-Mart. That’s fine if that’s what you want. However, for more and more SBOs in the world, the solo-preneur route offers way too many advantages to pass up.
Work hard. Make money. Have fun.
The Freestyle Entrepreneur
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