The term entrepreneur is one that needs no introduction. However, since the global disruption caused by the pandemic, a new buzzword has emerged alongside trends such as remote working and the gig economy and that is, the solopreneur.
A solopreneur takes the principles of entrepreneurship and scales it down to a level that is manageable for a single person. Although the concept of how they operate follow similar rules, the differences between solopreneurs and entrepreneurs come in the form of their long-term goals. A solopreneur structures their business such that it can be run by one person, which inevitably limits how much it can grow and expand.
On the Rise
Some entrepreneurs may see this scaling limitation as a weakness, but this is not the case for most solopreneurs. To understand the appeal of becoming a solopreneur, one must first look at the reasons for the rise of this trend.
It is true that the solopreneur concept is not new, but fresh interest arose during the pandemic, when many were forced to work remotely while some lost their jobs or took pay cuts.
During this time, there was an increase in the number of side hustles where individuals would utilise their skills to generate additional income during the lockdowns. Some started selling homemade food and beverage items, while others experimented with selling products and services online. These businesses became viable due to the increase of e-commerce acceptance among the general population.
Additionally, the gig economy also saw exponential growth during this time, thus giving many the taste of freedom afforded by self-employment. When lockdowns eased, those emboldened by their successes quit their jobs to prioritise a better work-life balance and pursue passion-driven projects.
Therefore, most solopreneurs are focused on the quality of their products or services, rather than simply driven by profits. This leads to more ethical decision making as they are the sole owner and can dictate the company's direction rather than having to appease partners, investors, or a board of directors.
Due to the solo nature of these ventures, they will be small and personal, and with the added factor of supply chain constrains, most will focus on local audiences to grow their businesses. This ultimately leads to an increase in the number of homegrown brands.
The rise in consumer awareness for sustainability is also a driving factor for the growth of solopreneurs. The younger generation of consumers is increasingly prioritising social responsibility within the brands they support. They are more likely to choose smaller brands with sustainable business practices over industry giants with opaque sourcing and procurement practices. And with locality being an element closely linked to sustainability, buying local and supporting local businesses becomes a preference for the next generation of consumers.
Branding With a Twist
With solopreneurs often operating under a unique business model driven by personal philosophy, their approach to branding must be highly customised as well. A good branding strategy executed via visual and verbal cues, working in tandem with the solopreneur’s personal branding, helps to cement their brand and lend further credibility to their product and services.
The branding strategy for solopreneurs and entrepreneurs or corporations share an overlap where they leverage on showcasing company values to build a long-lasting public identity. For most large organisations, branding is based on values that were instilled by the founder, sometimes decades ago, leaving the marketing department or branding agency to adapt them for a contemporary context.
For solopreneurs however, the company is based on their own ideals and philosophies, thus giving them full and precise control over how they want to portray the brand.
Corporations have experimented with infusing personal branding into the mix, for example, when CEOs take to social media platforms to grow a following. The results of this however, can sometimes be unpredictable. For solopreneurs, it is an advantage to meld personal branding with company branding as they are inextricably linked.
Personal Brands Are Agile
With solopreneurs, branding has an added level of flexibility as they are directly connected to their audiences via their digital presence (e.g., social media platforms, website and blog).
This allows for greater adaptability in strategy, and a decision-making agility that cannot be replicated in larger organisations.