The Solopreneur Bill of
by Veronika Noize and Jack Rubinger
The Solopreneur (one-person business such as a consultant) is a breed within
a breed. Fiercely independent, unconventional, non-traditional, and growing
in numbers due to the economy and production-enhancing technology, we’re a
huge presence in the small business arena. Unlike our counterparts at traditional
companies who are governed by an employee handbook, we operate at our own
risk with little protection and guidelines for our business and our personal
After years of working on our own, we’ve generated an important set of rights
that all solopreneurs can recognize and appreciate. Surprisingly enough, we’ve
found that many of our peers didn’t realize what we as solopreneurs have the
right to do, such as:
- Name our businesses. While our business names can’t infringe on
anyone else’s copyright or identity, there is no reason we can’t name our
companies some highfalutin name that makes it sound like an international
powerhouse instead of just little old us in our robes and slippers.
- Determine our own rates. There is no rule that says we have to
charge a specific rate, and there are several great resources for determining
rates (what are the resources?). Of course, our clients have a choice of
vendors so we want to be competitive as far as pricing is concerned, but
ultimately we have the right to find a rate that works for our business.
- Set our own hours. One of the best things about working alone
is the freedom to work when we’re at our best, even if that means working
outside traditional business hours. One caveat: Your clients will need to
know when they can reach you. If your hours are consistently in conflict
with the times they want to work with you, you may have difficulty retaining
that business due to your lack of availability.
- Work where we choose. Only the needs of our work and clients
mandate our location. If we can, why not work by the pool, from our vacation
homes, or the coffee shop on the corner? Nobody is suggesting that we conduct
our business in a manner or place that’s inappropriate or impinges on the
rights of others, but anything goes within reason. Many sales professionals
work out of their cars and coffee shops, so if that works for you, do it
without apology or guilt.
- Dress as we please. Naturally, if we’re meeting a client or vendors,
it is in our best interests to dress appropriately. But if we’re working
alone in the privacy of our own homes and nobody will see us except the
mail carrier, we can wear that raggedy old college sweatshirt and those
scuffed up bunny slippers, if that’s how we work best.
- Pitch our business. We can go after the biggest companies in
the world, if we desire, or the small company next door. But just because
we’re working alone doesn’t mean that we’re restricted to pitching business
to a certain size company. All it takes is a little nerve and some great
- Create multiple income streams. Having more than one income stream
is great for the solopreneurs, especially if our regular work is subject
to fluctuating seasonal or market cycles. Alternative revenue streams might
include teaching at the local community college, giving seminars, or selling
an e-book through your web site.
- Barter our services, time and/or products. Bartering can be an
excellent way to market our product and/or service without exchanging cash,
as long as both parties are happy. The flexibility of bartering is something
that’s particularly well suited for solopreneurs since we can negotiate
on our own behalf.
- Negotiate in our own best interests. Nowhere is it written that
we have to give up what we need to get business. We are responsible for
protecting our business interests, so we need to know where we can draw
the line in terms of what we are (and are not) willing to do.
- Refuse business and/or release a client. With only ourselves
to please, we can let our instincts guide decisions about prospects and
clients. If we feel uncomfortable, distrusting or uneasy, we need not worry
about stockholders, the boss, or anything other than our own gut feelings
before we let an opportunity go.
- Establish and enforce our payment policies. There aren’t many
things more uncomfortable than calling clients for overdue invoices, so
if you want to be treated as a professional, act professionally. Put your
policies in writing, and make sure that your clients abide by them, or it
will be you that pays.
- Work as a subcontractor for someone else. Just keep in mind that
when we subcontract, we represent someone else (our employer). This does
not give us the right to try to steal that business from whoever hired us
(and in most cases, we will probably have to sign a form stating our understanding
- Expand or contract our product lines and/or service offerings.
Cutting low performing products or services is just as valid as creating
new products or services for our clients when the demand is there. Doing
everything the same way forever is pointless if it doesn’t serve us as well
as our clients.
- Ask for referrals. Asking for a referral is a way of reinforcing
your relationships with your clients. It says, “our relationship is important
and I trust your judgment about others who you believe may need my services.”
Of course you’ll want to thank the client for the referral and keep your
client in the loop about what you’re doing for the referred prospect when
- Look globally for clients. In today’s business environment, it
may not make sense to confine business to our own backyards, and since the
Internet has made the world your neighborhood, there is no reason not to
look for clients where they are, even far away.
- Run our business our way. For better or for worse, we choose
all the policies, procedures, standards and practices (within the confines
of the law) under which our business operates. If the last day of the week
at our office is casual Friday (or Thursday, or Wednesday), so be it.
- Form alliances with other organizations. We choose our clients,
so why not choose our professional alliance partners? Working with a complementary
non-competing business enhances the service we offer to our clients in that
we have access to more expertise and resources through our alliance partners.
- Participate in our professional community. Since 40% of the businesses
in the country are run by solopreneurs, we’re not alone, so don’t let that
keep you cowering in your home office. Get out there and participate. You’ll
probably meet congenial colleagues, and possibly find some more business.
- The best financial, legal, and other professional services that we
can afford. Even if we’re all one-person organizations, we can have
whatever we want in terms of professional services, as long as we can pay
- Limit our personal exposure. We’re certainly not suggesting anything
illegal here, but we can (and should) limit personal liability and protect
ourselves from nuisance lawsuits.
- The same level of service and support from our vendors as any other
customer. If you’re unhappy about the quality of service from one vendor
and you suspect it is because your business is too small, find a vendor
who will appreciate you.
- Ask for what we want. And the people or organizations we ask
for something have the right to refuse to honor our requests, but that does
not mean that we should not ask. We never know what we might get if we just
- Take as many vacations as we can afford. Why not? Vacations are
good for you and your clients because you return to work refreshed and rested.
Especially if your business is very demanding and there is little room for
mistakes, regular vacations are a great idea. We know a dentist who closes
her office one week a month for vacations, and her clients are delighted
with her work, her service, and her great attitude.
- Close our business. We are in control of whether or not our business
stays open or closes, and nobody else. Our clients might miss us, but if
for any reason we decide that we want out, that is our decision.
These are our basic rights as solopreneurs. You’ll notice that we do not
have the right to respect, clients, easy money, or other businesses’ anything.
Those are things we must earn or negotiate for, but they are not ours by right.
Veronika (Ronnie) Noize, the Marketing Coach, is a successful Vancouver,
WA-based entrepreneur, author, speaker, and Certified Professional Coach.
Through coaching, classes and workshops, Ronnie helps small businesses attract
more clients. For free marketing resources including articles and valuable
marketing tools, visit her web site at www.VeronikaNoize.com
, or email her at Ronnie@VeronikaNoize.com
Jack Rubinger specializes in public relations for professional services.
He is a winner of the Small Business Administration Home-Based Business Advocate
of the Year. For background, visit www.isocom2000.com
or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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