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Should You Transition From Solopreneur to Entrepreneur? Here’s How to Know

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You’ve been in business a couple of years, and you’re at the re-evaluation stage, wondering if you should change things up. Do you want to keep doing it on your own as a solo operator? Or would you rather be a systems operator with processes in place that can help you grow with a team? As of 2019, 41.1 million Americans were solopreneurs—comprised of freelancers, contractors, consultants, and business owners without teams.

Being a solopreneur is exciting. You have a business that you’re passionate about. You have no one to answer to. And everything is on your time. 

The downside?

Everything is on you. 

Not every solopreneur is meant to stay a solopreneur throughout their business journey, and many are. It all depends on your goals, your fulfillment, and how you want to structure your life. 

Here’s everything you need to know about if and when you should (or should not) make the transition from solopreneur to entrepreneur.

The difference

Many solopreneurs consider themselves entrepreneurs—and they’re not wrong. Solopreneurs are simply entrepreneurs who have chosen to rely predominantly on themselves to execute their vision in the business instead of building an in-house team to support them. This means everything in the business that allows it to run, from marketing to bringing in sales to client delivery, is reliant on the business owner. Solopreneurs may hire freelancers or companies for specialty projects like graphics or logos. Perhaps, solopreneurs may also hire freelancers to outsource the tasks where they’re weak or have zero interest, however, most of the business execution is handled by the solopreneur. This can make many solopreneurs reliant on constant effort for the cash flow in their business, especially if they are some kind of specialist with custom deliverables. 

Entrepreneurs typically focus on building a system and a team, to remain in the visionary role as much as possible. They desire to scale the business, bring on more people, add more services or products, and expand the business without limits. Entrepreneurs may learn how to do most of the things in their business as it pertains to the execution and delivery in case they need to step in, but this is not where they spend their day-to-day efforts. Instead, entrepreneurs focus on business growth. They’re primarily pouring their energy into ways the business can continue to scale, even if they step away. 

Who the switch is right for

If you’re a solopreneur and you are considering switching to becoming an entrepreneur, chances are you’re overwhelmed and overworked. You’ve been carrying the load on your own, maybe even thought of selling your company and let’s face it, it can get heavy without support.

Alternatively, you may find yourself saying that you want the business to grow and run itself. You don’t want to do it alone anymore. The important question to ask yourself here is, Do I need a team or do I need better systems and processes? 

Social media, ads, and funnel strategist, April Wilhelm of Wilhelm Media Group, says she knew the switch from solopreneur to entrepreneur was right for her when she found herself getting burnt out and doing work she wasn’t excited about every day. “I was extremely successful as a solopreneur,” Wilhelm said, “but as my business grew and my personal life changed…I was getting burnt out and needed more flexibility while still having the same success.”

However, the process isn’t always linear. After a while, Wilhelm went back to solopreneurship, but is slowly rebuilding her team after learning the leadership skills required to be CEO in her company.

If you have no desire to grow a business beyond yourself or beyond your lifetime, and you’re more ease-oriented than ROI-oriented (meaning you’d rather work four days a week than make more money), chances are that you simply have a systems problem. You may need to delegate to a freelancer virtual assistant five hours per week. You may need some more automation in your business for your sales and marketing processes. Look at where there may be some time and energy leaks in your business and see if there’s a system, process, or automation that can plug that hole for you. This may mean hiring a coach or consultant to help you identify where you can strengthen and streamline your business. But it may not require you to bring on a team.

TD, a copywriting business owner, made the decision to move from entrepreneur with a team to a solopreneur. When asked about why she chose solopreneurship, TD said, “I wanted to be a better businesswoman, and I felt really disconnected when I wasn’t focused on the business end of it all. I’m more nimble this way. I can act in the moment as inspiration strikes.” Making the change from entrepreneur to solopreneur let TD have more direct control over the business. 

If you have decided that you want the business to run without you or that you want to build a legacy-focused business that will continue to grow after you die, then switching to entrepreneurship may be right for you. Many solopreneurs struggle to bring in enough income to get the business to perform on its own so that they can take vacations, rest periods, or even work on the business instead of in the business. This can lead to serious burnout with mental, emotional, and physical health complications as a result. Hiring a team to take the load off of you and grow the business whether you’re present every day or not is a great reason to hang up the solopreneur hat—but it doesn’t have to be drastically different from what the business looks like today. 

For example, you may only need to hire a virtual assistant in order to get the tasks off of your plate that aren’t allowing you to grow or take care of yourself. If you struggle with organization or project management, then you may need to hire an online business manager (OBM). If sales aren’t your favorite thing, you may need to hire a small sales team to take over your sales process for you. Regardless of who you bring on, you don’t have to go from zero to a full-fledged company overnight. It’s a process, and you start one hire at a time based on your most pressing need. 

There is another time to switch, but instead of from solopreneur to entrepreneur, you make the switch from entrepreneur to solopreneur. This can happen for many reasons, some of which include divorce, changing businesses, starting over, growing out of business, or having other financial shifts. Personal branding strategist, Kimra Luna, said, “Being on this (solopreneur) path right now has primarily been because I’m rebuilding my brand, starting over, and really wanting to take things slow. I learned a lot of things from hiring in the past, and so now it’s made me more mindful about how quickly I hire.” 

When asking Luna what led to the decision to start over as a solopreneur instead of going straight to entrepreneurship, she replied, “I know how to grow, I’ve done it before. And I want to do things in a slow, more mindful way. So that I, for one, don’t burn myself out. But for two, once you have people on your team, you’re managing more than just yourself. Now you’re actually managing multiple people, and that can become very draining as well. So I want to make sure that I really have the capacity—energetically, timewise, and financially —to bring on people in the right roles.” 

When to switch

If being a one-person show doesn’t work anymore, and you want the business to scale without you (or you’re experiencing burnout and you’re considering burning your business to the ground—which is more common than you’d think), you may want to consider switching to entrepreneurship. But before you make that decision, here are the things to try (and ask yourself) first.

  1. Have you implemented all of the automated systems that will help you run your business, and you’re still experiencing burnout?
  2. Have you outsourced the menial, specialized tasks, like graphic design, webpage design, video editing, and other project-based tasks already?
  3. Have you created systems and processes that optimize your time and streamline your work? Standard operating procedures, project management tools, and time management calendar blocking aren’t just tools for companies. They’re life-savers for solopreneurs too.
  4. Has your vision for your business changed, and do you now want to move more into a legacy-based business model?

Your answers to these questions will let you know if it’s truly time to make a change or show you exactly where you should focus your efforts first if you do want to stay a solopreneur. 

Solopreneurship is a powerful journey, and like anything worthwhile, there’s a lot of trial and error. It’s normal for there to be seasons of overwhelm in your business, especially if you’re just starting or in the process of growing. However, if there’s sustained overwhelm, check your systems, processes, and automation first. If those things are on point and working for you, then it may be time to reconsider your business structure.

Kellee Marlow is an Impact Entrepreneur, Business Strategist, Empowerment Accelerator, and Motivational Speaker. She built her career by embracing disruption and identifying innovative concepts and technologies that challenged companies and people to think differently. After 20+ years of business experience in different roles and industries, Kellee has created a catalyst mindset that is science-proven, focused on empowerment, innovation, and inspiration that guides people to successfully realize their entrepreneurial or personal goals. She is the founder and host of Spark, on KXSF.FM and 8+ online platforms that stream world-wide. Kellee created the Spark platform to inform, inspire, and ignite her audience by pinpointing the underlying value of the expertise from change-makers in psychology, wellness, business, and innovation. She tackles topics including the future impact of artificial intelligence and cryptocurrency; career reinvention and self-empowerment tools like empathy, gratitude, and social fluency.

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While reflecting on the magnificent life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I began to uncover what truly made Dr. King such a powerful leader. Many revere him for the change he brought forth so it’s no wonder that he was heavily influenced by the man who said, “Be the change you want to see in the world”. He embodied that statement on the deepest level and lead people through one of the most challenging yet historic times in our nation. 

But what was it that made Dr. King’s movement so different than the rest? A quality that transcends ego and unites a people so divided? 

My greatest and most moving discovery while studying the life of Dr. King was the very answer to our question. 

Yes, he had the personality to be a leader, yes he had the bravery to use his voice, yes he evoked REAL change in government and policies, but the manifestation of all those comes from his willingness to lead a movement truly rooted in consciousness. 

A peaceful approach

Dr. King was continuously met with frustration, hate, and even violence by both law enforcement and those who wanted to fight for equality through violence. But the more violent things became, the more he dug his heels into a peaceful approach. Dr. King’s unwavering faith in the power to lead with peace and not violence is undoubtedly why his legacy is such a pillar of our nation still to this day. It is easier to fight.

Hate, anger and separateness from one another are primitive emotions on the emotional scale of well being but It takes awareness, understanding and elevated consciousness to move from a place of peace and understanding. Dr. King knew that we all have access to these states of higher consciousness and that our true power lies in a peaceful approach.

He is an example of the truest essence of our consciousness in this human experience. How to truly love your neighbor as yourself. 

Conscious compassion

Even the strongest opponents are human. Meet hate with love + compassion for the enemy” he said. It wasn’t his resistance to violence that made him a peacemaker, but rather his commitment to keeping compassion and connection to all humanity at the forefront of his movement. A profound understanding that underneath all the hate, violence and discrimination, we are all one. We all come from the same source and we are all human.

A conscious king

A man of his position, his power, his following could have been easily swayed by the human temptations of the ego. But he remained steadfast in his cause to bring forth real change. He understood on the deepest level that we are truly a stronger force in the universe when we move as one unit, with one mind, and one goal. That the separation from one another is the weakness of humanity. That our strength is in those things that unite us all, the qualities that give us life.

His success was in uniting not just the people of America but the consciousness of America.

No matter our gender, or our social class or our color, we all love, and we all seek peace. We all feel joy and happiness, we all want to be met with compassion and understanding. 

His cause went far beyond the need for physical freedom and equal rights. His cause was for freedom of mind, freedom of heart, freedom to be one. 

Lead with love

In his last speech he said, “I may not get there with you, but we AS A PEOPLE will get to the promise land”. And we will. At some point, we will inevitably come back to this oneness that we all come from.

The truth is? We don’t know when our last day is. Our last march. Our last speech. So this Martin Luther King Jr. Day I ask you, what will your legacy be? Are you leading a life founded in the principles of Dr. King’s movement, founded in the higher consciousness of humanity? Every moment is an opportunity to love, to show compassion, to bring forth peace and in the words of Dr. King “The time is always right to do what is right”.

Dr. King said, “I’m here to remind you, we’ve come a longggg way, but there is still work to be done”. 

And I’m here to remind you this Martin Luther King Jr. day in 2024 that we HAVE come a longggg way, but there is still work to be done. 

His fight is our fight. His mind is our mind. His spirit is our spirit. Rooted in the consciousness of all humanity. We are all one. And when we embrace the understanding of that, we will truly say

“Free at Last, Free at Last, Thank God Almighty, We are Free at Last”.

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