Over 770,000 Americans decided to start their own business in 2019. Further, many entrepreneurs chose to build a one-man-brand. The benefits of being a solopreneur are considerable. Making your own schedule, deciding on overall business direction, and working for yourself are all appealing to the modern employee. If you’ve already considered making the leap and need extra motivation to take the first step, we’ve included four successful solopreneur examples below to spark your motivation:
From Fiverr to Full-Time Business Consultant: Charmaine Pocek
Charmaine Pocek, resume-writer and career consultant, started advertising her services on Fiverr when she and her husband were saving money for an adoption. A corporate recruiter by trade, Pocek was already writing and re-writing resumes for her clients—and adding her services to Fiverr was a great way to leverage a unique skill to make extra cash. She started small, editing resumes for roughly $15 dollars per job. With dedication and excellent customer service, her side-hustle quickly became her primary income.
“I put more effort into marketing and offering other gigs, like career counseling… which allowed me to make more money. I also got several certifications to make sure I was the best resume writer I could be and that I could stand behind my prices,” shared Pocek with Forbes. “ [In] 2013, I was making about $15,000 a month. In 2014, I made another $100,000 jump, and in 2015, when I earned $320,000, yet another $100,000 jump.”
From Saleswoman to Spanx Founder: Sara Blakely
There’s no better example of a successful solopreneur than Sara Blakely. With a humble start selling fax machines door-to-door, Blakely credits her success to that initial job. She claims that it helped her develop the thick skin required to run a global business.
According to company history, Blakely was getting ready to go out for the night when she realized that she didn’t have the underwear needed to make a pair of white pants work. In a pinch, she cut the feet off a set of control-top pantyhose. This is where the idea for her undergarment empire was born.
Sara continued to knock on doors, but this time, she had something more exciting to sell than a fax machine. A few years (and several meetings with Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales, and Saks Fifth Avenue) later, Blakely made the best PR decision of her life. She sent a basket of Spanx products to Oprah Winfrey. Winfrey listed Spanx on her “Favorite Things” list. Blakely made a profit of almost $4 million dollars.
Blakely urges entrepreneurs not to be afraid of failure, citing that this fear often holds so many people back from their true potential. She recommends grabbing any opportunity that comes your way and removing your fears about them for a shot at success.
From Video Games to Espionage: Adam Walton
Adam Walton didn’t set out to be an entrepreneur—in fact, he struggled throughout high school. He spent the first few years after graduation hanging out and playing video games. Fast forward a few years, and he’s the successful CEO of The Spy Guy, a one-stop surveillance shop worth over $1 million dollars.
Walton credits his success to his mother. Tired of seeing Walton at home playing video games, she forced him to apply for a local surveillance job. There, Walton learned the tricks of the trade and decided to strike out on his own. The Spy Guy is now one of the most competitive shops in the business, matching customer needs with unique surveillance products.
From PR Pro to President: Holly Rollins
A marketer and PR expert, Rollins started her career in the nonprofit world working at chambers of commerce and economic development organizations, with a corporate stint mixed in between nonprofit management. This gave her broad marketing experience with multiple industries she loved. She then started her path to being an entrepreneur. She opened a boutique marketing and PR agency, 10-x group — where she helped business owners achieve successful campaigns and lead generation.
Rollins made the jump from successful solopreneur to President, when she saw the digital writing on the wall — during the recession of 2009. She knew traditional PR was a dying breed. She needed her agency to evolve so she could offer clients both competitive and high-value services. This is when she decided to do an M & A by acquiring a digital marketing agency, RYP, which merged to become 10x digital.
This journey wasn’t without its growing pains.But, each stepping stone was a valuable lesson. These steps then led her to combine both the deep roots of proven traditional marketing tactics with the latest in digital services. What does she enjoy most now about managing a larger team? Not wearing all the hats.
Starting Your Solopreneur Career
Striking out on your own can be difficult. These solopreneur examples should give you the confidence you need to jumpstart your solo career in 2021. Remember to be true to your vision, and build the right people and resources around you to succeed. Good luck!