When most people think of successful entrepreneurs, they think of people like Steve Jobs and Richard Branson–people with giant visions, supreme confidence, and a whole lot of guts who set out to start companies that would transform business and society. They had grand plans and built huge companies to carry them out, and they won.
They also tend to be tirelessly optimistic. That’s why we love working with solopreneurs and early stage startups. These are people that have an idea that solves a problem or meets a need and they believe that they can create a business by solving the problem and meeting the need.
They are optimists. They believe what actor Jim Carrey said in a speech at the Maharishi University of Management in 2014: “You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.”
True, right? But most of us don’t follow that advice. We tend to toil at jobs that companies will give us, rather than start a business around something we know and love and that we know can help others. However, as Blogging Wizard Brent Jones asks, “If you’re good enough to make money for someone else, why would you ever doubt that you’re good enough to make money for yourself?”
Good question, right?
Solopreneurs and startup founders believe that they are good enough to make money for themselves and, down the road, for many other people as well. We work with a company called Revelly, started by true reveller Tu Rash, that makes fashion-forward eyeglasses for people with low nose bridges (also known as the Asian Fit). She was tired of having to choose between unfashionable Asian Fit glasses and stylish glasses that would slide off of her nose. So she did something about it.
Another visionary we work with, Dave Horobin, is an architect who saw how time-consuming, expensive, and labor-intensive it is to build traditional concrete walls for landscaping projects. So he came up with a lightweight form that concrete can be poured into, creating stronger walls with a fraction of the time and materials used with traditional methods. His company, H-Forms, is building walls all over the country.
And then there is Indy Courses, started by Harvard and Northwestern educator Tereza Flaxman to connect all manner of teachers with students that want to learn. Courses include everything from cooking to languages to music to blog writing. Anyone who is good at something can offer courses to anyone who wants to learn how to be good at that same thing.
Will one of these people be the next Richard Branson or Steve Jobs? Who knows? Regardless, what they have in common is a vision for a new, better way to work or live, and they have the optimism and tenacity to make it happen.
The also are not afraid to fail. Jamaican track star Sanya Richards-Ross said, “Failure I can live with. Not trying is what I can’t handle.” (No, I didn’t know she said it. I learned it from leadership expert Skip Richards.) Solopreneurs and startup founders are exciting to work with because they have this “I can’t not try this” mentality that elevates everyone around them.
Solopreneurs tend to balk at traditional outbound marketing–for good reason. Before Google started insisting company use high quality, helpful content to attract traffic, marketing was more a matter of who could shout the loudest, or who could trick people into buying something.
Now the marketplace is about getting found by the people that are already looking for you. It rewards authenticity and transparency, qualities solopreneurs typically value and practice.