Why Solopreneurs Will Rule the World (and How You Can Too)

by Craig McBreen · 24 comments · Branding


Craig-McBreen-Why-Solopreneurs-Will-Rule-the-WorldAccording to Daniel Pink, the salesperson is not dead, but alive and kicking, in the form of You.

The nontraditional workforce is quickly on the rise and by 2020 or so could quite possibly be the majority of the labor pool, with over 1 billion worldwide.

We are undergoing a paradigm shift of epic proportions and like it or not, you are leading the charge. You, the freelancer, the consultant, the solopreneur … the Soloist.

As a force, we’ll be unstoppable.

But, how will you rule the world?

Well, okay you’re not going to rule anything … but you can do everything in your power to prepare (and rule your own domain).

Think about it.

Even within large companies, the managers who are doing the hiring are probably looking to fill positions that didn’t exist 5-10 years ago.

So, when I say, soloist, I’m not only talking about a sole business owner. No, it’s also about renegades within the corporate world. Individuals in small companies who are trying to grab the ship’s wheel and change course.

So, how in the world do you remain viable in in a world gone digital?

One where you won’t simply change jobs, you’ll change careers, often??

Where project-based work (my world) is the norm and traditional jobs continue to drift off into the either???

And machines are replacing humans?

Well, it’s not only about hard work, experience and a tenacious spirit, although those big fat chunks help immensely.

It’s about how you represent yourself, online … often with this mix: Social media, your web presence and whatever other medium you choose: Video, podcasting, etc.

I’m paraphrasing, but Anthony Bourdain once said “restaurants are the last true meritocracy.” That may have been true when he said it, but exponential changes in technology have changed everything.

It’s a new and exciting world, but you’re on your own like never before. If you want to be successful, there is a crushing pressure on you, the individual to stay on top of crazy advances in our digital realm.

But it need not be soul-crushing, it can be enlightening.

A good recipe? Master a craft, strive to be insanely creative, and work DAILY to position yourself properly in the digital world we now inhabit … whether you’re on your own or within an organization. Choose yourself.

While discussing the Connection Economy, a guy named Seth stated this …

“In 1740 there was zero percent unemployment because there were no jobs. If you worked, you worked for yourself. We are heading there really fast, again. And it’s going to be bumpy and painful along the way. And the question is do you want to get out in front of that?”

The lesson? No one, and I mean NOBODY is going to pick you. Nope! It’s time to pick thyself.

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Jennifer G. Hanford July 24, 2013 at 1:26 pm

Great article, Craig! Becoming a “Soloist,” if you will, is the best thing that ever happened to me. I decided to take the plunge into solopreneurhood back in February of this year and love it. I’ve often been accused of being “my way or the highway,” in my corporate jobs, but I thought of it differently. More like a “this is great, not broken or anything, but I can make it better.” And sometimes, I did make it better, only to have someone else get all the credit.

Your message is powerful and hopefully more people will take it to heart – choose yourself!
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Craig McBreen July 24, 2013 at 3:44 pm

Hi Jennifer,

Thank you! Best thing that’s ever happened to me too :)

Congrats and welcome to the world of the soloist.

“…sometimes, I did make it better, only to have someone else get all the credit.”
And often those are the folks who wouldn’t make it on their own.

Thanks for stopping in today!

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Jennifer G. Hanford July 25, 2013 at 10:37 am

“An often those are the folks who wouldn’t make it on their own.” Very well-put, Craig!
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Ralph July 25, 2013 at 2:49 am

Craig,
I really like the notion of the individual simply from the perspective that we are all borne into the world as one and we leave as one. Sure, as social beings we have a natural inclination to band together but I have never been a believer of relying on the backbone of others to get me through life. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family, friends and my career organization but not as a crutch.

I have never been a strong believer in unions or corporate leggings and my most recent experience with a major Telco here in TO proves that. Leggings with no authority to make a decision to help a customer. Sad, really.

Considering
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Ralph July 25, 2013 at 3:00 am

Oops. Smartphone malfunction.

Considering that these huge corporations continue to dominate the workforce I wonder how quickly the pendulum is going to swing. Any stats on that to support your thesis? I believe that the individual will dominate the market again at some point I just have the feeling it will never be like a dam breaking open. Slow and steady, I would assume.

As a cog in the corporate wheel I am occasionally frustrated by beaurocracy but for themost part I can operate with plenty of rope. I have a unique position so I count myself as lucky. Most are not. I am also Gen X so there is no way that I see the world anything like the computer generation. There is awhole new level of thinking and entitlement that I have no real grasp on. That alone makes it very difficult to understand how the workforce is going to change but I do know it will.

That’s what makes my job as an Interior Designer so interesting. Long gone are the preconceived notions of work styles and their traditional impact on work space. I have my work cut out for me.

Thanks for the piece. Good thinkin’ Mr. McBreen. Cheers.
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Craig McBreen July 25, 2013 at 11:57 am

I’ll continue too! :) I didn’t see your ending “considering” at first glance ;)

No stats I can immediately plug in, just the cumulative knowledge from reading a diverse range of stuff from Kurzweil to Pink. I guess I’m a glass half full guy thinking the individual will have more power. We shall see, huh?

Sounds like you’re a bit of a renegade yourself.

“There is a whole new level of thinking and entitlement that I have no real grasp on. That alone makes it very difficult to understand how the workforce is going to change but I do know it will.”
Me too, really. But I do think the message here, about getting out ahead of it is an important one. I know it’s now in fashion to trash Seth Godin, but the man is on it.

Thanks for the great comments!

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Ralph July 26, 2013 at 4:10 am

Trashing Seth Godin? It is? Huh, who’d a thunk it.
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Craig McBreen July 26, 2013 at 1:43 pm

I know, hard to imagine, huh? ;)

Craig McBreen July 25, 2013 at 11:51 am

Hi Ralph,

Like you, I have a bit of the lone wolf persona too – not relying on the backbone of others to get me through life.

I had my own bad experience with a major Telco years ago (the incompetency was astounding, really). The further down that chain, it’s almost unavoidable though, don’t you think?

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Ralph July 26, 2013 at 4:11 am
Adrienne July 25, 2013 at 7:54 am

Hey Craig,

Ah, we change careers often. I never even imagined that back when I was in corporate America. To be honest had I just gone and gotten yet another job after being laid off I probably would still be quite ignorant as to what was really out there for me.

Oh sure, I dabbled on the internet but that was just researching stuff for the company. I did mess around in our company website but I only had to edit and add a few things so the process was set up to be simple.

I always loved learning new things and although I know that most companies today are realizing they need to be online and more visible I know there are still a lot of people stuck in their own rut too.

I’m glad I was let go and I had an awakening of sorts one month before that or I wouldn’t be here.

I love being a “Soloist”. I love doing my own thing and making my own way all while I’m helping others learn how they can too. This truly is an amazing place.

I say welcome aboard everyone and let’s go get em! ;-)

~Adrienne
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Craig McBreen July 25, 2013 at 12:19 pm

Hi Adrienne,

Yes, and I think this kind of thing will be increasing of course. This kind of trial by fire. With “fire” having more than one meaning.

It’s amazing when you think about it, huh? You turned something that could have been pretty bad into a very positive, life changing event. It is something how far you can go with some “thing” you had no little knowledge of.

So, you’ve made more than a dent in our online realm. Your life has changed and you’re helping so many others along the way. Cool beans. Let’s go get ‘em!

Thanks for stopping in.

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Mark July 25, 2013 at 8:23 am

Hey, Craig – I do believe we have a very similar view of the opportunities “social business” provides those who seize them, as indicated by the article below… You always inspire and motivate – thank you, sir!
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Craig McBreen July 25, 2013 at 12:20 pm

Hi Mark,

Yes indeedy! I like that you used the verb “seize.” It’s there, you just have to go and get it, and we have more tools than ever to get the job done.

Thanks for stopping in!

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Bryan Thompson July 25, 2013 at 10:52 am

Hi Craig! I haven’t read Pink’s new book but I love “Drive! The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.” I think any kind of company or business that ANYONE starts from scratch will have to take the “solopreneur” approach. Even if someone starts a new brick and mortar bookstore or coffeeshop or (in my case) a new church, it can’t work the way it always has. That sense of community has to be combined with a new way of looking at the organization. It has to be made with more of a “if this operated COMPLETELY online, how would I do it?” intent. Does that make sense? And these days, EVERYBODY does business online, even if they do it from a brick-and-mortar company too. Great thoughts, my friend.
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Craig McBreen July 25, 2013 at 12:29 pm

Hi Bryan,

Yeah, Pink has a way of packaging the seemingly mundane into a very creative an easy to digest format. Love the way he writes.

I agree with you completely … from a new community church to the very small factories that are part of our new manufacturing economy. They will increasingly have this “solopreneur” approach.

And yes, looking at a company or organization with a “if this operated COMPLETELY online, how would I do it?” mindset is a good way to frame it. Just look at how dramatically marketing has shifted in the past few years. That is my world, and it’s been pretty dramatic (read: all online).

Great comments, Sir.

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Andrew Stark July 25, 2013 at 12:52 pm

Hi Craig,

I love this idea.

I’m a scientist, but sadly if I continue to do my science I’ve reached the top grade, and to get promoted I have to become a manager or do project management rather than chemistry labwork.

As and when this results in me getting a handsome redundancy package I will be using that money to set myself up as an online consultant to help all the small business owners who want a simple website.

Large corporations have got lost in a world of useless targets and governance and seem to be rewarding executives for mediocre performance at the expense of the real workers who are getting less than inflation payrises.

Hope that doesn’t sound too much like a socialist rant, but I do think that the current big business model is broken, and solopreneurs does look the way forward.

Andrew
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Craig McBreen July 25, 2013 at 7:37 pm

Hi Andrew,

I don’t take this as a rant at all. This is why I decided to stay out of the rat race and just continue on my own merry way.

I’ve also heard about the problems trying to advance in any scientific field. At least you have a plan, which is part of what I’m talking about when I say you have to stay ahead of this.

I think you’re right about big business being broken. When it comes to big business brains and big dollars, we need more people like Richard Branson and Elon Musk, don’t you think?

Thanks for stopping in and good luck with your plans.

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Mary Stephenson July 25, 2013 at 1:13 pm

Hi Craig

Very true! Gone is the security of retiring at a job after 30 – 40 years giving your soul to a company. Very few get a pension anymore and people today need to start putting money aside in their 401 K or all they will have is pretty much nothing.

Definitely requires a new way of thinking and will need to continue to get a more balance of wealth to more folks. This economy over the last 6 years has changed so many things for a lot of us. People just entering the workforce have more of a reality of what is required than others who have been there for decades. Much harder for ones that are over 50 to change to a new way of life.

Mary
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Craig McBreen July 25, 2013 at 7:43 pm

Hi Mary,

Oh, for sure! Heck, my father worked for a major corporation for years and was forced out in his late 50s. He did get a pension, but he wanted to work 10 more years. So my parents were pretty quickly reduced to a lower economic level. Now pensions are unheard of.

People usually make their biggest moves when their backs are against the wall (read: the last 5-6 years).
Thing is, we’ll have to continue to do so to stay ahead of it all. That’s why I’m so completely on board with the choose yourself message.

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Kenya July 27, 2013 at 1:39 pm

What is the soloist ideology of the symptom here that we have to do anything by ourselves in order to be?
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Jayme Soulati August 12, 2013 at 4:56 pm

OMgosh. This post.

It’s all about my pain today; being a solo and doing it all. Trying to learn the ropes and know enough not to break something when I DIY everything.

I’ve been talking about this for awhile. I need THAT person who doesn’t exist; who can help me do my digital marketing on HubSpot and launch those blasted e-newsletters and manage that awful email list. Yep. Not my fave area. I’m a content strategist; doing the tech and the digital is killing me. Sigh. What can we do? I should read all the comments above mine; perhaps someone has something really smart to say.
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Craig McBreen August 13, 2013 at 9:38 am

Hi Jayme,

Yes indeed, that is another job of the soloist that many gloss over … it’s obviously a struggle to do all this and outsourcing is NOT easy: You have to have a solid vetting process or you’ll get someone who does crap work or won’t respond to calls or emails. Or you simply don’t have the funds to hire help.

I slowly, but surely outsource the stuff the exhausts me and try to focus on what energizes. Problem is, I’m a lone wolf and a control freak … are you?

Anyway, as I get deeper into running two blogs and a business I will certainly be writing about outsourcing … by then I’ll have something intelligent to say about it.

Thanks for dropping in!

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