Over the past few months, I’ve become quite interested in learning about solopreneurship.
This email explains what it is & why it’s cool
Chapter 1: WHY IT’S GOOD
First - why solo?
Well… having a bunch of people in your company isn't always a good thing.
More people = more headaches
More people = more monthly payroll expenses
More people = more dilution % of equity
More people = more time in meetings just to make sure ‘everyone is on the same page’
More people = more HR issues
I’ve been in companies of many sizes. I’ve worked alone. 2 person teams. 3 person teams. 10-20 person startup. 1000 person companies & even 300k+ person companies.
For me - by far the most fun is at the 1-3 person phase. I think most entrepreneurs will agree. Big company is good for the ego, but causes a lot of headaches.
So if people think it’s so great - why don’t they do it?
Chapter 2: WHY IT'S POSSIBLE
In the past - you needed people to do all the things a company needs to do. Building, designing, selling, financing etc..
These are all different skill sets, and so it required different people to do it.
So why is that changing?
- Outsourcing - you can now outsource pretty much anything you don’t want to do via upwork, fiverr etc..
- Tools & Automation - we now have no-code tools that give you superpowers. Things that used to require people, now can be done with tech. And tech that needed engineers can now be done by anyone thanks to no-code.
- Leverage - As the internet gets bigger, and more mature - running your little “coffee shop” on the internet can now be worth $1m+/year in profits, because you’re able to serve customers from all over the world and take payments effortlessly.
This wasn’t true 10 years ago, but it is true now.
As companies shrink. From thousands → hundreds → tens → down to just 1-2 people.
You’re stripping away all the “undifferentiated” functions. Like legal, finance, sales, etc.. and even in many cases, design and engineering.
The people inside the company focus ONLY on the secret sauce. The part that makes your company stand out. Every undifferentiated function (eg. paying payroll, running servers, etc..) gets outsourced.
Chapter 3: EXAMPLES
Let’s look at some examples.
Let’s compare two of the biggest “talk shows” on earth. The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon vs. Joe Rogan.
Joe is a solopreneur. It’s just him and his sidekick Jamie (powerful young jamie).
Even without the big spotify licensing deal ($100m+), Joe was comfortably pulling in $20m+ per year, with 90% margins on his podcast, and didn’t have to answer to some suit from the network
(*cue the nervous jimmy fallon laugh*)
He’s not alone. The Tim Ferriss podcast is similar. The Dave Ramsey Show, Steven Crowley, Ben Shapiro, Alex Jones etc..
Oh and it’s not just podcasting.
Ben Thompson writes “Stratechery” (tech strategy daily blog). The fucking guy lives in Taiwan, writes a blog a day, and pulls > $3M+ per year in profits off his paid subscribers.
These people are kings of a new category: solo media
They are one-person media companies. Fans subscribe directly. They publish onto big platforms like YouTube, Email, or iTunes. They have 1 person behind the scenes doing the editing/publishing etc..
Chapter 4: MY BLUEPRINT
There are many types of solopreneurs. Some are “indie hackers” building small pieces of software that pull in $500k-$3M a year.
I’m not an engineer - so I look for blueprints that match my talents.
I like to be a systems thinker. I don’t build products, I build systems. I design systems with positive feedback loops (aka a Flywheel)
Here’s the generic solopreneur Flywheel
The key is “niche authority”. Every piece of content, every follower, and every dollar you make is building up your authority in that niche.
The bigger your authority, the more unique content you can create, the more followers you gain, and the more your diehard fans will pay for your stuff.
Let me give you another example.
Recently I’ve been digging into a successful Solopreneur who’s bringing in over $4M a year through this flywheel: Anthony “Pomp” Pompliano.
I met pomp when I went on his podcast a few months ago. Good dude. And he’s a content machine.
What’s interesting is that before 2017, Pomp was just another guy working in tech. He worked at facebook, and did a small startup, but didn’t wasn’t a household name.
I asked him how he got big, and he said he decided to go all-in on twitter that year. So he started tweeting about all kinds of business stuff...and noticed his bitcoin tweets were going viral. The algorithm liked bitcoin, so he cut the rest, and started tweeting all about Bitcoin.
I researched his old tweets using some tool called TweetTunnel (probably a solopreneur behind this app). And he was totally inactive before 2017. Using Social Blade you can see his follower growth take off in 2018...at the same time Bitcoin price spiked from $2k to $20k
Pomp has cranked the hell outta his flywheel in just a 3 year period.
This is similar to the flywheel of Tim Ferriss & Sophia Amoruso
There are a wide variety of niche’s to become an authority in. From vegan cooking to outdoor survival to the FIRE movement.
Looking at the business models. I think books are shit. I think courses are great. Even small niche authorities like Tiago Forte and David Perell are pulling $1M+ per year on courses.
I think a fund is a no brainer if you’re in the business niche. I’m surprised more of them don’t do merch. And the biggest untapped opportunity is to release tools that help your audience live the lifestyle you preach.
Here’s my take on how the solopreneur model could eventually work for me..
I think the weakest part is the “niche authority”.
Right now, everything I do is as the “first million guy” aka.. I help you make your first million bucks by giving out ideas & execution frameworks....but maybe that’s too abstract.
Alright - I’m outta here for now. Have a great week!