The first time I heard the term “solopreneur,” (it was February 2010) I instantly knew the meaning, because it captured the essence of what I’d been doing for the previous 17 years.
In 2010, solopreneur was just emerging in the language, and I thought it was the perfect word to use in the name for this website. Since then, I’ve seen use of solopreneur take off. For example, “solopreneur” or “solopreneurs” used to appear in tweets less than five times per day. Now it’s 40 to 50 times per day.
There are people on Twitter who despise the word. That’s fine. I understand. I might hate it, too, if I wasn’t a solopreneur!
Nobody seems to know the origin of the term, but below are attempts to define it. Choose the one that fits you the best, and be ready to use it when you’re put on the spot!
6 Definitions of Solopreneur
My favorite definition of solopreneur comes from cartoonist Jen Sorensen: “Captain of an extremely tiny dinghy.”
Urban Dictionary: “An entrepreneur who works alone, ‘solo,’ running their business single-handedly. They might have contractors for hire, yet have full responsibility for the running of their business.”
Solopreneurial.com: “The solopreneiur (sic) employs no-one, they may bring on contractors (usually other solopreneurs) to provide services that the indivusdual cannot do, but they have no staff of their own, and probably more importantly they don’t want the hassles and troubles of managing people.
“The business will be built through systems, procedures and automation so that a thriving business can grown centered around one person. It is a true business, not a freelance job.”
Outside the Cocoon: “A solopreneur is exactly the same as an entrepreneur except that they are creating a business without employees, without much funding, and in my case starting out as a part-time endeavor.”
Entrepreneur Night: “An entrepreneur who works alone, (hence ‘solo’) and runs his or her business as a one-person-show. A solopreneur may subcontract persons and consultants, yet have full responsibility for the running of their business without an operational team. With the power of the internet, there are many thriving, successful solopreneurs.”
Johnsonese Brokerage: “Solopreneur is a term used for independent professionals to distinguish them from entrepreneurs. Some people use the terms solopreneur and entrepreneur interchangeably, but there are some differences. An entrepreneur seeks to build a company, with its own brand that could, potentially, exist even if the entrepreneur left the company. By contrast, solopreneurs build personal brands, tied to themselves as individual professionals. In the most basic sense of the term, solopreneurs are not necessarily interested in growing their businesses into stand-alone companies, although some solopreneurs eventually do become entrepreneurs.”