Issue 1

Read time: 10 minutes

Ready for Strategy?

Join the bold readers of Solopreneur Doorway. Every other week you get ideas from dynamic interviews, case studies and strategy solutions to increase your solopreneur sales.

We will never sell your information for any reason.

The View from Erik’s Doorway

Email: LinkedIn:

The crisis is gone.

On May 11, 2023 the US Center for Disease Control told us the COVID-19 public health emergency was over. (1)

“Over” is a relative term for the pandemic.

We’re not over the loss of loved ones, friends and colleagues.

We’re not over the loss of health care workers, volunteers and brave professionals who sacrificed their well-being and lives to care for us.

And we’ll never be over the 100 ways the pandemic changed our definition of work.

Not since the American and European industrial revolutions has the knowledge worker seen such change to their workday.

We had more emails and video calls.

We built the stay-at-home model and we built the hybrid model.

Now we engage in the battle of ‘return to work’ vs. ‘stay remote.’

In the spring of 2020 we hung in there and tried to maintain our routine.

But as the pandemic wore on many opted for a change and started to look in the ‘career’ mirror.

You asked big questions.

“Should you stay on this track?”

“Should you start a side hustle and build new skills?”

“If you get laid off tomorrow do you have a plan to keep your life and family in balance?”

In his powerful article, “Entrepreneurship During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Evidence from the Business Formation Statistics,” John C. Haltiwanger describes the tidal wave of new business applications in the U.S.

Haltiwanger writes, “This surge has continued through May 2021. The pace of applications since mid-2020 is the highest on record (earliest data available is 2004).” (2)

Recent estimates from the US Small Business Association show approximately 23 million solopreneurs now hard at work. (3)

Amplify this figure to include solopreneurs around the world and the numbers are staggering.

Every day a new solopreneur flips open a laptop and says, “I’m ready.”

Today’s solopreneurs are extraordinary.

They are gifted, determined and smart!

They share insight with video equipment, microphones, laptops, and an internet connection to the world.

They show up on LinkedIn, YouTube, TikTok, podcasts and newsletters.

They run their business from home, offices, cafes, airports, hotels, train stations and the beach.

They travel the world as digital nomads to experience new sights, sounds and possibilities.

In each case they are carving their piece of the economic pie and slice of career independence.

They are builders, thinkers and bold innovators.

I dedicate this first edition of Solopreneur Doorway to each of you as you stake your claim and bet on yourself.

Go get ’em!

The Interview Stage

Claim and Protect Your Genius: Rina Sond Tackles Intellectual Property

Rina Sond
Rina Sond
Email: LinkedIn:

Rina is a perfect choice for our first Solopreneur Doorway interview.

I have followed Rina’s content for several months on LinkedIn.

Her posts on intellectual property (IP) simplify complex issues and remind us it’s essential to protect your genius.

She brings an artistic flair to the IP conversation and provides a rare blend of humor, legal skill and compassion.

After a stellar 22-year career in the corporate legal world, Rina launched her legal consulting practice.

She champions the solopreneur model and is passionate about helping businesses that can’t afford legal advice within the traditional billable hour system.

Today, Rina helps innovative start-ups and scale-ups who want to attract funding and protect their IP.

In this fun and insightful conversation Rena shares her mission to implement IP strategy and why solopreneurs should embrace it in every stage of their business journey. She also lets us in on the journey she took from corporate superstar to influential solopreneur.

In early May I chatted with Rina while she took a break in her London workspace.

Erik: “Rina, could you give us a simple definition of IP?”

Rina: “The main forms of IP relevant to most businesses are trademarks, which help protect the brand, the name, the logo, <and> potentially <the> jingle or the corporate colors of an organization.

<It> helps protect their reputation. Copyright also applies to most businesses.

It is the right for their original work not to be copied by others.

Patents give you exclusive protection over your innovations. <They> are worth protecting because it can help to give you that competitive edge over others in the marketplace.

Designs and design protections can also be valuable in protecting the appearance of any products that you’re developing as a business.”

Erik: “When you advise clients is there an ideal window when they begin to work with you and put those steps in place to start protecting what they’re doing? And how tough is it to then make a change if they realize a strategy needs to be tweaked a little bit?”

Rina: “Right. That’s a great question.

I always say to my clients that it’s worth understanding the essential fundamentals of intellectual property. That means understanding the key forms of IP, but also in particular how those particular IP rights apply to your business…that knowledge is invaluable.

I would say try and educate yourselves as a young business very early on just so you have that awareness.

In terms of actually getting advice and taking more proactive measures around protections of your IP I would say the sooner the better…particularly when it comes to trademarks and designs because the registration systems are <in the UK> first come, first served.”

Erik: “You make an excellent point there on geography.

Does it become more complicated in the digital world as people are working with customers and vendors and partners on a global scale?”

Rina: “Again, great question.

I would say exactly as you’ve sort of just alluded to there, Erik, which is start with the home country or the main country in which the business will be based.

And sometimes it’s a requirement to have some sort of an earlier registration in your home country before you can expand globally into other protections in other countries…and the timing of that can be quite important in terms of broader or more global strategy.

There are certain IP systems and treaties around the world, such as the Madrid Protocol where if the country is a member of that treaty or that protocol they have all signed up to a global system whereby those parties in those countries can register IP rights, which can have an advantage of recognizing the earlier registration.”

Erik: “Terrific. Well, with your permission, why don’t we flip the switch.

Would you share a bit with the readers why you opted to go from what was a stellar corporate career and then a move to the independent model?

What was going through your head at the time you decided to make a switch?”

Rina: “I’ve had a lot of people ask me about this when they sort of hear my story.

I was on a great career track and path where I had it all.

I’d kind of worked my way up the corporate ladder and made partnership at a firm.

I had worked hard and I had helped to develop and bring in business into the firm.

<I> was enjoying some of the work that I did, but not necessarily all of it.

And I think when you work within the confines of a law firm the pressure is always there in the background to be meeting targets, bringing in new work, etcetera.

I just reached the stage really where I just wasn’t feeling completely fulfilled.  I think a lot of people in the legal industry reach a similar point.

I remember questioning the decisions of others who had done a similar thing before me, not really fully appreciating, why they were leaving it. It looked like they had it all, good salary, good position, you know, kind of worked their way up.

I was going through my own sort of journey of self-discovery, personal growth and working out what I wanted that led me to realizing that I was feeling unfulfilled and needed to change things up for myself and that staying long term in a law firm wasn’t going to cut it for me anymore.”

click here to continue the interview with Rina…

Is Your Business the Butt of the Joke?

Your Case Study

beavis butthead
Source: Giphy

We all love a smart parody.

When you create a clever way to poke fun at a company and raise awareness for your own product your market visibility shines. 

In 2007 Jimmy Winkelmann used a parody to start a company.

He called it South Butt.

Sounds harmless, right?

Not so fast.

Seems Jimmy used a logo and sold products similar to a global retail company; namely, The North Face Apparel Corporation (“North Face”).

Jimmy had a wry sense of humor and thought his ‘opposite’ name strategy (South Butt vs. North Face) would give him laughs, attention and sales.

It worked.

Consumers in Missouri loved the idea and bought South Butt products.

Everyone was laughing. Except the folks at North Face.

The problem was South Butt sold fleece jackets, backpacks and t-shirts. Same products as North Face.

And to make his company funnier and the North Face folks angrier Jimmy used a logo and tagline similar to North Face.

Jimmy flipped the North Face logo on its side to make it look like a human butt.

His tagline for South Butt was “Never Stop Relaxing.” (4)

The tagline for North Face was “Never Stop Exploring.” (5)

Now, I’m sure there were a few lawyers on the North Face team who smiled at Jimmy’s clever strategy.

Still, it didn’t stop them from filing a 7-count complaint against Jimmy and his company, South Butt LLC.

The counts included: (6)

  • Trademark Infringement
  • Federal Trademark dilution
  • Common Law Trademark infringement
  • Common Law Unfair competition

The competition complaint is interesting.

Companies spend years and millions building a global brand.

They leverage their brand to give consumers a feeling and mood every time they see the product’s logo and products.

When a startup piggybacks on a global brand to increase awareness for its own gain you know the legal teams are going to jump into the fray.

When the dust cleared North Face and South Butt settled the case in 2010. (7)

Your Strategy Takeaways:

  • Humor sells yet not everyone in business laughs at the same joke.
  • Consult a smart attorney who specializes in intellectual property to check for copywrites and trademarks that might be similar to those for your company.
  • Consult an attorney who specializes in intellectual property to protect your trademarks and products.
  • You can spend years and money building your brand. Don’t let a trademark oversight or your sense of humor get in the way of your amazing business future.

Ready for Strategy?

Join the bold readers of Solopreneur Doorway. Every other week you get ideas from dynamic interviews, case studies and strategy solutions to increase your solopreneur sales.

We will never sell your information for any reason.

Cool New Tools for Your Solopreneur Biz

Here are a few of the latest articles, links and tech you can use to write, create, market and build your business strategy. I have no affiliate links or business ties to these folks.

💥 Rachel Woods and Adriana Tica write excellent newsletters.

Rachel tackles AI and Adriana explores growth ideas to make your business excel.

Check out their ideas here:

👉 The AI Exchange:

👉 Ideas to Power Your Future: 

🎧 Scott Galloway and Kara Swisher host the Pivot Podcast. Each week they tackle the hottest stories in tech and business. You’ll laugh and learn. Give it a listen!

😕 Confused about the difference between ‘strategy’ and ‘planning?’

👉 This A+ video explanation by Roger Martin is a ‘must watch’ for solopreneurs: 

Rina Sond Interview, cont…

Erik: “You and I read about the changing workforce and how folks today are asking, “Should I go to university? Should I get a graduate degree? Maybe I’ll just start my own business at <age> 23 or 24.” What would be your recommendation to somebody who is getting a law degree and had that opportunity to either go towards the traditional corporate path or strike out on their own?”

Rina: “Yeah, it’s an interesting one.

Having a legal background and having work experience in a law firm is always going to be useful. That experience is invaluable because it really does teach you lots of different transferable skills that you can then use in other roles and other industries.

I think a lot of lawyers at the early stages of their career feel like they’ve spent so much time and investment going through law school and getting qualified as a solicitor or a barrister in the UK. There’s a lot of time and commitment and cost involved in that.

I think everyone has to make their own decision and go with their instinct.

But as I say, having law firm or industry experience will always help you and always set you up in terms of those skills that you can then move elsewhere.”

Erik: “You’ve had the privilege of working in a traditional corporate firm and now on your own. The biggest surprise to you of going independent was what?

Rina: “I’m not sure if it’s a surprise necessarily.  Just how different it feels.

Working for somebody else and working in a large organization where you have lots of resources at your fingertips compared to where you are then setting up and running your own business and having to do everything on your own.

It wasn’t really a surprise because I knew that that would be the case, but it just feels very different doing it for yourself.

I know it’s a cliché, but it is the case.  I am so enjoying the work that I do.

I’ll work longer hours than I did when I was in a law firm.

But a lot of the time I will be doing creative stuff where I’m staying up late and putting a post together on LinkedIn or doing something that’s a little bit creative.

But actually it is still contributing towards my marketing efforts and it doesn’t feel like work.

I’d say it’s just that sense of satisfaction in building and in creating something for myself as well.”

Erik: “Let’s push that one more step. You and I have a host of responsibilities as independent business owners.

How do you move through that thinking process of finally delegating or getting some help on different areas?”

Rina: “It’s a good question.

I think having that self-awareness, first of all, is really important.

It’s knowing and understanding yourself and your own strengths and weaknesses and where those limitations lie.

It’s through the actual doing when the realization sort of hits that I’m not sure what I’m doing here and it’s probably going to be better to pay somebody who knows what they’re doing, has years of experience in doing this particular area rather than me spending a lot longer, wasting my time trying to muddle through it and work out how to do it right.

There’s no point wasting time.

It comes to the point where I know my shortcomings.

Finance, for example, is not my forte. That that has led to me having conversations with a few people in my network that I’ve known and worked with for years that I trust and that I know will have my back and be able to guide me as I grow.”

Erik: “What strategic thinking do you find yourself moving through to <explore> where you’d like the practice to be in the next 2 to 3 years?”

Rina: “I’m constantly thinking around the model and how to grow it and where I want it to go.

Part of that has involved taking on a business coach, which has helped to keep me on track and thinking more strategically and, obviously, helps with the accountability as well.

That’s been a real benefit.

It’s useful to have that sounding board as well, to feel that you’re on the right track…and it’s only by having those conversations with an outside party that you get a different perspective.

Those conversations made me change my thinking to be more strategic than where I was right at the start of this business journey and where I thought, well, I just want to create a job for myself.

That’s not what I want to do. I do actually want to grow and develop a business… grow something and potentially look for that to then build in value over time <so>that I could potentially exit and sell the business and the value that I’ve created within it at some point in the future.”

Erik: “Our readers want to understand, from a legal perspective, what are you worried about with respect to artificial intelligence?

What would you advise new solopreneurs to do with respect to artificial intelligence versus working with an actual attorney and getting the assistance they need?”

Rina: “I wouldn’t say I’m overly worried about AI.

I’m more intrigued with the capabilities and focusing on the benefits that it can bring to businesses. I think there are limitations as well though to AI.

The human aspects such as having empathy and being able to build and develop those relationships with your clients and being able to add value that might not be necessarily prompted. There’s all these human aspects. I think there will always be a place for lawyers in that sense.”

Erik: “There will be a place for you for many, many years.”

Rina: “Thank you.”

🔎✔️ That’s a wrap for this issue.

🚪🚶Stay curious and keep opening doors.

P.S. Who Should I Interview Next?

I’m always on the lookout for sharp, fun and dynamic solopreneurs who want to share their story and skills.

Drop me a note at if you have an ideal interview candidate.

If you are starting your solopreneur biz or ready to improve your current strategy there are two steps you can take.

  1. Visit for resources and strategy ideas
  2. Coordinate a 90-minute strategy session: We can start your biz on the right path or tackle the root cause of problems you want to fix today.

Book a Session with Erik

Note: Coaching sessions are with Erik and offered through Thinkaday, Inc.

Ready for Strategy?

Join the bold readers of Solopreneur Doorway. Every other week you get ideas from dynamic interviews, case studies and strategy solutions to increase your solopreneur sales.

We will never sell your information for any reason.

Let’s connect on LinkedIn.

Solopreneur Doorway is a Thinkaday, Inc. publication.

© 2023 ThinkaDay, Inc. All rights reserved.

, and ThinkaDay are trademarks of ThinkaDay, Inc.


  1. “End of the Federal Covid-19 Public Health Emergency,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Updated May 5, 2023, accessed June 11, 2023,

  2. John C. Haltiwanger, Entrepreneurship During the Covid-19 Pandemic: Evidence from the Business Formation Statistics, National Bureau of Economic Research, June 2021, accessed June 11, 2023,

  3. Small Business Statistics, Chamber of Commerce, accessed, June 11, 2023,

  4. Jim Salter, North Face Settles Lawsuit Against South Butt, CNBC, April 9, 2010, accessed June 11, 2023,

  5. Ibid., accessed June 11, 2023,

  6. Dennis Crouch, The North Faces vs. the South Butt, PatentlyO, February 12, 2010, accessed, June 11, 2023,

  7. Jim Salter, accessed June 11, 2023,