“Solopreneur” isn’t a brand-new term but it has definitely become more relevant in recent years. The word is easily interchanged with the word “entrepreneur,” but there are distinct differences. As an increasing number of professionals choose to start a business with no intention of ever adding staff, solopreneur is likely a term that will only grow in popularity.
The differences between solopreneurs and entrepreneurs can be subtle, especially since some entrepreneurs work alone until they can build their businesses enough to make a team. However, those who choose solopreneurship over entrepreneurship without plans to change have distinct differences.
Solopreneurs don’t wait for a buyout.
An entrepreneur works hard to build his business but he isn’t quite as attached to the concept as a solopreneur. Many, but not all, entrepreneurs build their businesses with at least a small hope that a much larger company, like Google, will come along and offer millions of dollars for it once it grows. At that point, he could easily move on to the next great venture.
Of course, many entrepreneurs have turned down buyout offers to continue pursuing a passion, so this isn’t a defining difference. However, a large divide between the two may come when an entrepreneur can run a variety of businesses over the course of his career, while a solopreneur tends to work at one thing consistently.
Entrepreneurs put a face to a company.
While a solopreneur tends to spend hours working hard to build his business, an entrepreneur frequently prefers to be out making connections and getting the word out about his or her business. An entrepreneur may be perfectly happy doing that and that alone, leaving his team behind to do the work.
Solopreneurs can be great networkers, as well. One major difference is that an entrepreneur may be more comfortable spending all day at a variety of networking opportunities and client meetings, while a solopreneur is content simply doing the work.
Entrepreneurs are managers.
When someone is an entrepreneur at heart, even as a solopreneur, he’s waiting for the day when he can build his team. He may even begin working with freelance workers and virtual assistants to delegate his work. He is comfortable leading a team of people toward a defined goal.
Solopreneurs, on the other hand, likely are in no rush to hire an employee to manage. Even if the day comes when they must outsource work or bring in a team member, a solopreneur may find himself pitching in and doing the vast majority of the work himself. He may even have a hard time letting go of tasks, since he simply wants to jump in and work hard to grow his business.
Solopreneurs are workers.
While entrepreneurs can work harder than anyone they know, a solopreneur is a worker by his very nature. If a task needs to be done, his first thought is to roll up his sleeves and start working. For this reason, this new generation of freelance workers and sole proprietors have emerged, with professionals content to run a one-man shop with no intention of bringing another person on.
Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, have no trouble delegating, even if they have to delay that process until they have enough money to bring additional workers on. They realize the sooner they can delegate tasks like billing, web development and database management, the sooner they can focus on building and growing their businesses.
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.
I've met some of the best solopreneurs in the world. They make some of the best partners. Know which type of an "preneur" you are so that you can best find how to work with yourself and others.