How to Become a Successful Solopreneur

Interested in becoming a solopreneur? Start with these 7 steps

If you aren’t familiar with the word ‘solopreneur’ yet, and if you want to create personal and financial freedom in an uncertain economy, now is the time to learn what the word means—and what it means for you.

Solopreneur
Definition: a self-employed person who sets his or her own hours, employs no other people, and has no desire to sell their business.

Solopreneurs often work as writers, graphic designers, photographers, marketers, consultants, coaches, coders, craftsmen, or any combination thereof. Many solopreneurs are classically trained and hold at least one degree in their fields. But the great thing is that solopreneurship is open to anybody who has value to share (regardless of their formal education), who’s committed to refining their craft, and who has the self-discipline to manage their time wisely.

Benefits of the solopreneur lifestyle

The solopreneur lifestyle enables you to specialize in the things you’re most passionate about and to increase your rates as you increase your value.—That’s just the first way it’s better than a 9-5. If you ask for raises based on the value you’re bringing to your company, or to do what you love, they’ll fire you and replace you with someone who doesn’t know their own value—of which there are plenty!

Being a solopreneur automatically increases your wealth, because wealth is your income multiplied by your discretionary time. When you work from home, you don’t have to worry about two-hour commutes, you can vacation as often as you please, and you can take as many breaks as necessary to satisfy your personal needs for health and happiness—which means you get to actually be a human. So even if you take a paycut to start, you still have more time to do the things you want and to pursue the things you’re passionate about. That’s what real wealth is. Because money can never buy back wasted time.

Being a solopreneur also reduces your risk of being fired or laid off by 100%. With unstable trade relations and a borderline non-functional government, you never know when your 9-5 will be pulled out from under your feet.

Finally, solopreneurship teaches you how to market yourself, how to plan, and how to fully rely on your own effort. Solopreneurship gives you true personal and financial freedom. It just comes at the cost of being disciplined.

Who’s interested in being a solopreneur?

Anybody can be interested in being a solopreneur. Doctors, housewives, dads, professors, students, dropouts, lawyers, young people, old people, really old people, people who hate working for other people, people who prize their freetime—pretty much anybody who doesn’t want to sacrifice their happiness and health for a 9-5 job. The age group most associated with solopreneurship today is the millennial generation. We crave the purpose and freedom that simply can’t be found in the traditional work environment.

Those who aren’t interested in being a solopreneur generally have a fear of the unknown and need to be told what to do by someone else. But the real question is this:

Who can actually be successful as a solopreneur?

This question is the reason that Millennial Success exists. As a successful solopreneur (my clients range from Inc. 500 executives to Ivy League grads) who was once a highschool expulsee, an Army reject and a college dropout, I’m living proof that anybody can be a successful solopreneur no matter their background, education or personal history. Especially you.

But you have to be willing to drastically change your lifestyle like I did. Because once you’re on your own, there’s nobody to save your ass or make up for your lack of effort.

You have to be totally responsible and accountable, which many people aren’t willing to be. You have to be willing to work and learn more about your craft every single day no matter what you feel like. You have to start planning for a balanced lifestyle that satisfies your needs for health, happiness, fitness and purpose—so you don’t burn out. And you have to be willing to eliminate the distractions, low-value habits and excuses* that prevent you from making the most of your time and from feeling confident enough to make awesome decisions all day.

(*You know: being on social media 24-7, checking your emails and texts all day, reading pointless articles and watching TV.)

Again, most people simply aren’t willing to be this disciplined and to take this much responsibility for their daily decisions. They’re too scared to let go of their creature comforts. But if you are willing, or if you’re willing to learn how to design this lifestyle for yourself, then this is your site. You will learn everything there is to know about sustaining your solopreneur career while becoming a balanced and ridiculously happy person at the same time.

Welcome!

Where do I start?

This is your first taste of the ‘Lifestyle Design’ part of Millennial Success—where you get to finally take control of your life and your success. Below are seven action steps to get you started on your successful solopreneur adventure:


First, you have to answer the question:

Am I willing to radically change my lifestyle for a radically improved life?

If yes, continue with the article. If not, thanks for visiting Millennial Success. Tell your ambitious friends about us.


Second, you need to define exactly which field of solopreneurship you’re going to pursue—and what you can work towards every single day.

At the crossroads of your talents and your passions, that’s where you’ll find your solopreneur career. You need to be good at this thing because you’re going to be selling it and helping a lot of people through it. But you also have to be passionate about it, because you’ll be working on it every day—and if you don’t have a passion for it, you’ll burn out and find some excuse to quit.

So brainstorm for however long it takes to come up with your specialty, your offering. Are you a natural born writer like I was? Are you a gifted creative who has the knack for churning out beautiful websites, like the woman who created this site? Do you have a product that you can create and sell by yourself? Are you a graphic designer? Or artist? Or coach? Or consultant?

Once you decide what this thing is—what your thing is—you’ve got to make a commitment to doing this thing for an hour a day for one month. This is your testing ground. If you can learn about this thing, practice it, and refine it for one month straight, you’ll be able to pursue it for the long haul and create your solopreneur independence through it.

*If you know what your thing is, go to library or Amazon immediately and borrow/purchase a couple books on your subject. The more you learn about it, the better you will be at it, and the more you can charge. I once got paid $800 bucks for half an hour of writing—but that was only after I’d studied the craft nonstop for two years.


Third, you have to prove to yourself that you’re willing to make a radical change and be disciplined:

I have all my coaching clients commit to a two week period of fasting from their favorite low-value activities: social media, aimless article reading, TV/Netflix/YouTube. This primes their brain to look for high-value activities to fill their time with instead, and it conditions them to think of change as a sacrifice—you give a little, you get a little.

So I’m recommending the exact same for you.

Take 10 minutes now to reflect on your biggest time-wasters, distractions, and low value habits. Then commit to abstaining from them for a period of two weeks. You will be so absolutely amazed at what this does to your overall feeling of self-confidence and productivity that you’ll never, ever go back to a distracted lifestyle again.

As for essentials like checking emails and texts, I recommend coming up with a set number of checks per day and scheduling them as independent activities—that way it don’t interfere with your productivity, and you’re not mindlessly checking just to check. I find that two visits works perfectly for me, and my clients need anywhere from two to five.

*If you’re going to eliminate low-value habits, you need to write out the high-value habit you’ll stick with over the next two weeks as well—learning goals, fitness goals, work goals, etc.


Fourth, you need to adopt a power morning routine:

How you spend your first waking hour is how you spend the rest of the day. If you spend that time reacting to social media/texts/email, you’re conditioning yourself to look for distractions the entire rest of the day and to avoid the work and effort that makes you feel incredible and advances your goals. You’ll also allow any negative thoughts you woke up with to determine your attitude and influence your action for the day.

But if you spend your first waking hour like this—

• 5 minutes of gratitude (don’t stop until you’re actually smiling about the incredible things in your life)
• 5 minutes of visualizing the amazing things you want in life, the happiness you want to feel, and the difference you’re making to others
• 5 minutes of affirmations/pumping yourself up in the mirror
• 5 minutes of planning out your day (top 5-8 essential goals), and
• 30 minutes of exercise—

then you’ll have so much energy, positivity and confidence that you’ll punch the rest of the day in the freaking face while accomplishing everything you need to no matter how you feel when you wake up.

A power morning routine is the key to taking full ownership of your attitude and mood, which gives you full control over your decisions, which results in a radically changed life in as little as a week.

Notice that the power morning routine does not involve checking your phone or computer. This will routine will probably require you to wake up (and go to bed) an hour earlier than you normally do, which is a very small price to pay for a successful career and an inspired life. And if you want to take your discipline and productivity to the level that’s required of a successful solopreneur, you’ll follow the next step.


Fifth, you need to do at least an hour of deep work before you check any messages:

Success as a solopreneur is so simple.—You do the work, you do it consistently, and you get the results. But most people cheat themselves out of the results they want because they make excuses for not doing work:

I’m too tired..
I’ve got so many other things to do..
I’m not inspired..

And they start in with the excuse-making shortly after waking.

But if you’ve completed your power morning routine, and then you accomplish at least an hour of the most important work you can before checking email/texts/etc., then you’ll protect yourself from the lame excuses and distractions that prevent you and everyone else from being successful. You’ll feel so confident and so proud of your efforts that you’ll look for every opportunity possible to make even more progress—to do more work, to improve yourself, and to keep the incredible feeling of discipline and achievement humming throughout the rest of the day.

Then after a month of this proactive lifestyle you’ll look back on all of your accomplishments, you’ll reflect on how incredible it feels to be the best version of you possible—hell, you might even be cashing in your first solopreneur paycheck; and you’ll wonder how you ever lived the way you did before.


Sixth, you’ll be needing accountability:

How many times have you tried to make any change, let alone a major one, only to have bailed before the first week was over? That’s why it’s so important to have accountability.

It’s challenging to stick with a morning routine. It’s hard to eliminate your excuses and fill your day with nothing but high value, dream-related stuff. But when you have someone in your corner, someone you can talk to, and someone who genuinely cares about the progress you’re making, it becomes a little easier to stay focused on your path.

So share this article with a friend or family member. Talk to them about a few things you’d like them to help keep you accountable to, and see if you can offer the favor in return.


Seventh and last step:

Subscribe to Millennial Success and join our Facebook group. This way you’ll have the inspiration and action steps you need to thrive in your journey as a solopreneur—we’re gathering stories from the most successful solopreneurs on the planet!—plus the support of a community of solopreneurs through our Facebook page. Sign up here!

 

There is so much more to being a successful solopreneur, and I absolutely cannot wait to share it all with you, and to help you find the success you want! Thanks for spending your valuable time here.

—Dan, founder

Written by Daniel Dowling
As a "lost millennial" turned solopreneur writer and coach, I write on massive personal development for sites including Entrepreneur, Fitbit and Fast Company, and I teach ambitious people how to become successful solopreneurs and balanced human beings here at Millennial Success.