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6 differences between solopreneurs and entrepreneurs

Solopreneurs and entrepreneurs may seem similar, but there are some key differences. The main distinction is how they run the business, such as delegating or working alone.

Solopreneur isn't a new term, but it has gained some popularity in recent years. However, don't confuse this term with entrepreneur because there are some clear distinctions.

The term entrepreneur describes a person who wants to grow a successful business from scratch. There are subtypes of entrepreneurs, including buyer entrepreneurs who buy other businesses and fix them, joint entrepreneurs who partner together to start a business and those with a single business focus who want to work alone -- enter the solopreneur.

More people are looking to start their own business as total new business license applications were the highest on record in 2021. There was a 53% increase in applications from 2020, according to U.S. Census data.

Some of these businesses may be owned by entrepreneurs and others by solopreneurs. Business owners can choose how they want to run their business -- with help or alone.

What is an entrepreneur?

An entrepreneur is someone who opens a business based on drive and creativity to make their idea a reality. This person is willing to take on risks for the rewards of the business. Typically, an entrepreneur wants to grow a company and hire staff or outsource versus working alone. They may need investors to make this a reality.

While some entrepreneurs start working alone at first, they may not be intent on being a solopreneur and are only delaying hiring until they have enough in revenue to take on employees. They realize that the sooner they can delegate tasks -- such as website creation, marketing and billing -- the sooner they can focus on growing their business. Because of hiring and outsourcing tasks, entrepreneurs face bigger risks as they rely on others to get tasks done.

Entrepreneurs may want to build an organization and sell it later. Some entrepreneurs focus on diversifying their portfolios by starting various businesses in different industries. An entrepreneur is willing to take more risks to create a new business in the market.

A solopreneur is a person that creates a business and runs it on their own without the help of other employees.

What is a solopreneur?

A solopreneur is a person that creates a business and runs it on their own without the help of other employees. This person also assumes all risks for the business, manages it and organizes the enterprise without help.

A solopreneur is a type of entrepreneur that starts a business planning to be the sole employee doing all the work. Freelancers and contractors can also be solopreneurs if they work alone.

The following are examples of occupations that are conducive to the solopreneur business model:

  • baker
  • graphic designer
  • child caregiver
  • cleaning service
  • content writer
  • personal trainer
  • photographer
  • website developer
  • podcaster
  • artist
  • programmer

Learn more about being a freelance developer.

Key differences between solopreneurs and entrepreneurs

The differences between entrepreneurs and solopreneurs can be difficult to distinguish, but one of the main differences is the mindset and the long-term direction of their business. The following are some other major differences.

Work alone vs. delegating

Since entrepreneurs typically have additional employees, they can delegate tasks or hire a person for a specific job function, such as accounting or marketing. Entrepreneurs often serve as the face of the company as they make connections to grow the business, while their staff manages the daily tasks. In contrast, solopreneurs do all the work, including daily tasks and networking.

Single product or service vs. multiple options

Solopreneurs are dedicated to one service or product, while entrepreneurs may scale their business to include various products and services. For example, a solopreneur may offer graphic design services, while an entrepreneur opens a digital marketing agency offering graphic design, copywriting and video marketing. They have the dedicated staff to help this happen.

Growth opportunities

Solopreneurs want a more manageable-sized business that enables them to make decisions and get work done, so they naturally have a limit on what they can do because they work alone.

The sky is the limit for an entrepreneur because they can build their team when they build revenue. For example, think of a restaurant owner that wants to open another restaurant location.

Amount of time dedicated

Solopreneurs usually have other jobs and operate their business, especially at first. Often, an entrepreneur commits their full time and dedication to their business. Due to the inherent smaller size, a solopreneur's business may only be part of their full income and something they work on in their spare time.

Office space

Because they work alone, most solopreneurs typically don't have the amount of space that would be required for employees. Entrepreneurs need a more complex workspace, depending on their business. For example, they might need space to produce or store products or for other employees. Entrepreneurs may also need office space to meet with and impress clients.

Investors

Solopreneurs typically do not need investors to start and run their business and typically work with the immediate resources available to them. Since entrepreneurs often intend to expand, the larger scope of their business requires a larger initial and continued amount of capital from investors.

6 secrets to entrepreneur and solopreneur success

Even though entrepreneurs and solopreneurs are different, there are some similar tips to help them grow their businesses. Here are some secrets to success for both.

1. Motivation

One of the biggest factors to be successful is motivation. To be a business owner, a person is responsible for getting everything done -- especially if they are a solopreneur. Organization can help a business owner stay motivated and complete tasks.

Working on a business may require project management tools to make sure nothing falls through the cracks. Setting a schedule and not starting jobs last minute can help relieve feelings of stress and lack of motivation.

2. Setting goals

Lack of focus can be a trap for a business owner, and one of the best ways to prevent this trap is to set goals that are not vague. Create a plan with actionable ways to reach these goals.

This plan should be the guide, just like a manager helps guide employees -- the plan should keep the business owner on track. Having attainable goals with steps to get there can keep both solopreneurs and entrepreneurs on track, similar to an authority figure.

Learn more about steps for setting business goals.

3. Effective website

Having a web presence should showcase work and enable existing and potential clients to interact with the business. Make sure the website is easy to navigate. Check that it performs well in search engine ranking by using keyword research tools to find the most-searched keywords.

Don't forget to make sure the website is mobile-friendly since 61% of people make a quarter of their internet searches from mobile devices, according to a study by Visual Objects.

Depending on the nature of the business, creating an app can help increase visibility, gain new clients and work with existing customers.

4. Networking

To increase demand for services or products, an entrepreneur or solopreneur needs to create a reputation and identity. This is where networking with relevant industry groups comes in. Look for groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Websites such as Quora and Reddit also have forums to post meaningful and insightful content to reach others in the same industry. Follow industry blogs, such as these top IoT blogs for a business in IT. Comment on other posts as well to stay active and create meaningful connections.

Five pillars of social media marketing
The five pillars of social media marketing are strategy, planning and publishing, listening and engagement, analytics and reporting, and advertising.

5. Social media promotion

Social media should be another main part of marketing a business. Be sure to know the audience, and create strategies to reach them. Use various formats, such as articles, videos, tutorials, podcasts and infographics.

Schedule posts ahead of time by using scheduling apps, such as Sprout Social or Hootsuite. Engage regularly to gain a better understanding of customers and get feedback, and encourage tagging and sharing with others in the same industry.

Learn more about using social media marketing to boost a business.

6. Using automation

Being an entrepreneur or solopreneur requires a great deal of planning and deliberation to determine details, such as marketing, budget, expansion models and customer contacts. To focus on the big picture and not the day to day, consider using a variety of automation tools, such as the following:

  • GetResponse. This tool helps manage email subscribers.
  • G Suite. This is Google's project management app that lets users manage all day-to-day tasks, such as meetings, emails, calendars, presentations, and storing and sharing files.
  • Calendly. This software helps schedule appointments and sends reminders directly to clients.
  • WorkflowMax. This project management tool handles all the CRM duties, such as invoices and purchase orders.
  • Expensify. This software helps businesses track expenses and keep personal and business transactions separate. It also integrates with other major platforms, such as QuickBooks, Sage and Xero, for tax time.

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