Have I ever shared that I was never a smart kid? I have a twin sister. We are fraternal twins, which means that we don’t look alike. We are very different in any way you could possibly think.
My sister is naturally smart. I noticed that early in high school. She could read our next-day history lesson twice and remember all the important dates and facts.
Me? I was nothing like that.
I had to read it five times and write down what I’ve learned at least two times in my own words to remember important facts.
Historical dates were even harder to remember. I had to associate them with things from my personal life to remember them.
Math was a different beer. I was exceptionally good in Geometry and Solid Geometry, where logic was required. If I knew how to draw the geometric figure, then I could imagine the logic behind the Math problem.
I figured out that I needed to be very consistent with every subject that required remembering long-form texts and be clever with every subject that required logic and creativity.
And the situation was no different in university. However, this time it was easier for me because I already had the habit of being consistent with hard work and clever where logic was required.
I never complained about hard work because it was the only way for me to be a top performer. I just wasn’t a smart kid in the sense of remembering long bits of information.
But I was a clever kid in the sense of figuring out things through logic and creating things from nothing through creativity.
After graduation, I adopted the same behavior in my first job. I didn’t have to be smart, just clever. Admitting that I could do anything related to my job and then just figuring how to do the things I admitted that I could do.
This is a long prelude to the main point of this article. I will deviate from the usual marketing content and reflect on the last two years as a solo extra-preneur.
This blog exists because of the intro above. And from the communication with my readers, I know that they appreciate the personal angle of the content I produce.
Let’s unfold this story and see how my philosophy has shifted in different aspects of my life during the past two years as a solopreneur.
The decision to quit my regular job first happened shortly after my 26th birthday. The second time it happened was before my 30th birthday. I am two years into solopreneurship, and I hope this endeavor never ends.
The only reason I am enduring all the struggles of a solopreneurship is to own my time, so I can decide how to spend the rest of my cosmic life.
Busyness and Workism
I am not against the conventional 9-5 lifestyle. You can work for someone else's dreams and still be fulfilled by the work you do. However, I loathe the normalized culture of performative busyness and workism.
Performative busyness is defined by the quality of being so busy looking busy that nothing actually gets done.
Workism is the belief that work is necessary to economic production and the centerpiece of one’s identity and life’s purpose where more work is encouraged.
Work should not define who we are. And busyness and workism seem to do precisely that - boosting employees' status and encouraging elitism.
Solopreneurship gives me the tools to create my own rules, where performative busyness and workism don’t exist.
Often, when someone asks me what I do for a living, I tell them that I am a barista. And they still judge me by the answer. I want no part in such a culture.
I used to dream of achieving a “work-life balance” type of lifestyle. Until I quit my job and saw from first-hand experience that this isn’t quite the life I can live.
Every single day from the past two years was like a chart from Google Analytics. A cardiogram. A rhythm. I’ve accepted that my work-life relationship can’t be balanced as the life of a solopreneur has its own rhythm.
Sometimes you have creative outbursts for weeks, where the only feeling that moves you through the day is creating and giving life to your ideas.
This may cost you a little bit of sleep, a little bit of some friendships, a little bit of daylight. But when I have such periods, I take advantage and create.
Sometimes, there are weeks when I want to read books up until noon, work for 4-6 hours, and then do a heavy workout or a light one. When I have such periods, I don’t try to push myself and be creative.
I learned to accept these dynamics, follow the rhythm of my days, and not feel down by the less productive days.
I used to fall into the fallacy that you need multiple cash flow streams to secure your financial solopreneurship future. I no longer believe in that. I don’t mind having one or two related assets making most of my income.
Trying to be everywhere lands you nowhere.
The word focus should be used as a singular noun. If you give deeper thought to the meaning of the word focus, the fact that it has a plural form sounds conflicting to me. If you have many focuses, by its definition, it means that you don’t have a focus.
My two passions are marketing and fitness. What connects both is creating a fitness-related business through blogging and blogging about how to create assets through Marketing and SEO.
If I can make and sustain my two passions profitable through my entire life, then I don’t need another five projects on my shoulders. Two projects for a solopreneur are more than enough.
I have one swimlane on my Personal Kanban board, which is for personal development and growth. There are many cards named after different skills I want to master.
While the desire to acquire new skills is great, my time is limited. As a philomath, I care more about being a generalist than a specialist.
However, the past two years as a solopreneur showed me that you couldn’t be a generalist in many unrelated areas.
Technically, you can, but I think that stacking skills work best in related areas. For example, I really wanted to learn to code. Not because I needed that skill to do my work better, but because it was super cool on Twitter (and still is).
And so, I started learning to code. I quickly realized that learning a skill that you don’t have to use every day is time wasted. I prefer just-in-time learning instead of always-on learning.
I don’t need to code to build websites. These days, you don’t have to code in order to build even an app.
And I was honest with myself. What do you want to do better and best? Marketing. Okay, marketing. Then start stacking new skills related to marketing.
What else do you want and have to learn in order for your projects to thrive? Well, synthesizing better health and fitness-related content. Then start stacking skills in health and synthesis.
Now my marketing skills will help me market my fitness and health-related content. In this sense, I am a generalist in two areas that share complementary skills.
Cancel the noise and stack your own house of skills.
Financially, solopreneurship could be a hardship, especially when you don’t have the right psychological attitude and the understanding of how money work.
You may think that this is a no-brainer topic, but most people don’t know how to deal with money. People think that you need a lot of money to start a business, and so they never start.
People think that you need a lot of saved money in order to quit a job and try something different, and so they never quit.
Frugality is the north start I follow when it comes to money. No matter how much money I earn, my lifestyle doesn’t change. Everything extra goes into my business and towards my FIRE goal.
I don’t waste a penny. And mind the difference between being a frugal and a scrooge. I would never compromise the quality of my life in order to become Uncle Scrooge.
Money and finances are big topics, and my advice for someone who wants to buy its freedom is to start with minimalism, downshifting, and voluntary simplicity.
I embraced the idea of minimalism and simple living more than five years ago. I hardly buy anything these days. When I buy clothes, I am thrift shopping.
I buy local products, and I cook my food. I don’t buy junk food, and I hardly buy any packed goods. I try to be conscious of the things I buy, use, and consume.
Local production is my first choice. I prefer quality over quantity. I own very little, but I am free to do whatever I want with my time.
In 2020, the first year of my solopreneurship endeavor, I saved very little. I invested everything in my business. In 2021, my second year of solopreneurship, I earned and saved more than any other year, working a regular job.
I spend less than 10% of my monthly income on food, bills, and everyday costs. The rest is reinvested into my business and my FIRE goal.
If I keep this rate of earning and saving ratio, I should reach my FIRE goal in less than 3 years. However, I am quite positive that my business is yet to thrive and grow.
I just wish for all the people who want to become solopreneurs to go frugal, increase their saving rate, and just be all in.
All we have is now, and it is a moment so short that even trillions of dollars won’t buy the time you have wasted wishing to live the life you always wanted.
Life and Time Philosophy
After the first half of 2021, I took some time to reconsider how much time I spent working. I’ve read every book on slow living and its related topics.
Slow living is what I want for my life. Slow living doesn’t mean being slow. Slow living is the modern art of living—why and how to live.
Solopreneurship allows you to embrace slow living. They fit.
And up until this year, I lived as I was in a hurry. I rushed everything. I didn’t have a slow moment. I didn’t have time to sit and read a book while drinking green tea.
Every moment awake was spent working and working. Basically, I practiced busyness and workism (as explained above) under my roof. I have been a slave to my past habits and understanding of what it means to be productive.
Shifting from "working-every-awake-hour" to working fewer hours was a big shift in my mindset. This shift unlocked creativity and productivity by working fewer hours, slowing down, and taking the time to tinker.
And I want to be clear that I didn't complete less work. On the contrary, this year, I’ve done some of the best work in my entire life.
There is one aspect of my life that suffered a bit. I wasn’t that active with trekking and working out. Although I worked out weekly, I know that I should have done more.
In my previous years of active training, I did twice the workouts I did this year. And I am suffering a bit because of that fact. In general, I am an active person; I work out a lot (almost daily), I go trekking every weekend, but this year I failed that part of my life.
The bright side is that my path to slow living is smooth, and I am committed to getting back to my regular workout and outdoors routine.
Frequently Asked Questions about Solopreneurship (FAQs)
What Is a Solopreneur?
A solopreneur is someone who owns and operates their own business. They can operate a service-based business or sell goods.
A solopreneur does not work for someone else, and they don't have any employees working for them.
They are often self-employed, but sometimes they may be in an independent partnership or own a small company which they run on their own.
A solopreneur's company can be started on a shoestring budget from anywhere from home, an apartment, or a coffee shop.
Solopreneurs are a growing trend in the entrepreneurial world - they are responsible for more than half of all new businesses created.
Related Article: The Solopreneurs’ Guide to the Benefits of Slow Living
What Is an Entrepreneur?
An entrepreneur is a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk.
This is not the only definition of an entrepreneur. A person can be an entrepreneur in many different ways.
Entrepreneurs are driven by their own ambition, creativity, courage, knowledge, and skillset to achieve something that has never been done before.
They are always looking for new opportunities to turn their ideas into reality.
What Is an Extra-preneur?
An extra-preneur is someone who puts the "extra" in everything one does. This is my own term.
I call myself an extra-preneur. In my head, an extra-preneur is someone who is putting the "extra" in everything one does.
What Is the Difference between Solopreneur vs. Entrepreneur?
Although some people may fall into both definitions - a solopreneur and an entrepreneur, there are some differences between the two roles.
A solopreneur is someone who has a sole proprietorship or independent business. They are the only employee in the business and also assume full responsibility for the business.
On the other hand, an entrepreneur may have employees who work with them. They are in charge of their company, but they don't have to do everything themselves.
Entrepreneurs can delegate tasks that they are not good at to others which allows them to grow their company more efficiently.
What Is a Freelancer?
Freelancers are skilled professionals that offer services to clients for a fee. They can be creative and skilled in any profession, and they work on their own terms.
There are several reasons why freelancing is becoming so popular in the modern world. Most importantly, it allows professionals to have much more freedom in choosing what they do with their lives.
Some people enjoy the freedom of not having a boss or following a rigid schedule, while others may see this as an opportunity to take control of their lives and provide for themselves, even if they have dependents at home.
What Is the Difference between Solopreneur vs. Freelancer?
In my opinion, there is a more significant difference between a solopreneur and a freelancer. A solopreneur is an independent contractor who has their own business and is not employed by anyone else.
On the other hand, a freelancer is a contract worker who has a temporary relationship with the employer or client.
A solopreneur has control over their work style, schedule, and where they want to work from. They have more freedom in choosing what to do and how they want to do it.
On the other hand, a freelancer dictates their schedule to the client or employer by signing up for projects that they agree with.