Some choose solopreneurship because of the flexibility it provides versus the traditional corporate career path. (Illustration by Marissa Lewis; elements from Shutterstock)

Buzzwords: Solopreneur

An independent business owner who runs all aspects of the business on their own, without employees

Back Article Apr 9, 2020 By Vanessa Labi

\ ˌsō-lō-p(r)ə-ˈnər \

Chances are you know a solopreneur. They may be a consultant or maker. The term, a portmanteau of “solo” and “entrepreneur,” was first used in 1992 to describe an independent entrepreneur, someone who developed a business that they run alone, without any employees. 

Some choose solopreneurship because of the flexibility it provides versus the traditional corporate career path. Others become an expert in their field while working as an employee, then venture out independently to provide their services. 

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The Buzz

For Cassandra Vogeli, owner of Resonance, it’s all about paving her own path. As a wellness worker and meditation teacher who has an M.A. in marriage and family therapy, she provides tools, resources, and workshops to help others online and in person. 

Vogeli says she has observed some confusion about what a solopreneur is and how it differs from being an entrepreneur or small-business owner. An entrepreneur may start a business with the intent to employ others and scale and ultimately sell the business, but a solopreneur sets out to own it all: the organization, management, the actual work and all the fun risk that comes along with it. 

“Small-business owners might aim to keep their business small, but they still employ others, and a solopreneur does not,” Vogeli says.

The Word

With 41 million adults working independently, according to the 2019 MBO Partners “State of Independence in America Report,” solopreneurship doesn’t show signs of slowing down. “I think that with our (millennial) generation … the marketplace is drastically changing because we care more about the environment and purpose and buying things from smaller artists,” Vogeli says, adding that independence is part of those values.

Although millennials may be credited with a more independent spirit, older generations have long created and managed their own businesses as well. Partially responsible for that perception in recent years is the availability of technology to support solopreneurs’ needs and goals. Vogeli points to a slew of tools that independent business owners now have at their disposal: Shopify, Etsy, Squarespace and social media platforms that can be used to promote an independently owned brand. 

Another reason people are more empowered to create their own business is, of course, to create something about which they are passionate, while avoiding the experience of having or being a boss. 

“What I like about being a solopreneur is that I can collaborate (with others), but there’s no hiring, no firing, there’s no vetting or managing people,” Vogeli says. “I’m just not a person to manage others. Some people are so good at it and are drawn to building teams, but for me, it’s cool to pave a path that I feel lit up by without having to worry about meeting those skills.” 

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