Your Guide to Succeeding in a One Person Business Model

Starting a one-person business requires expertise in an industry, a smart strategy, and a willingness to take risks.

I tackled my first one person business model with seven years of corporate experience, including Wall Street, an MBA education, and an initial strategy idea.

Was it easier to operate the business with this background? Yes.

Was it simple to start and gain immediate traction? No.

If you have the passion to start a one-person business, there are steps I encourage you to follow that will substantially increase your odds of success.

These steps won’t guarantee you’ll hit a home run (nothing can), yet you’ll avoid common mistakes, save time, and jumpstart your one person business model.

In no time, you’ll be turning your skills into solutions people buy.

This blog post guides you through the various parts of the one-person business model so you can build a venture that you love and that enriches people’s lives.

We’ll cover strategy, operations, finance, and several other topics.

I’ll weave in lessons I learned during my fourteen-plus years of my first solopreneur journey.

Here are the key takeaways:

  • Identify your passion and skills

  • Define your niche and unique selling proposition

  • Consult with your business attorney

  • Set up your home office

  • Leverage your work experience in a particular industry

  • Understand the pros and cons of a one person business model

  • Explore strategies to market, finance and operate your business

Identify Your Passion and Skills

A popular recommendation I often see from social media gurus is to lean into your passion and then develop your expertise further down the road.

I disagree with this approach for two reasons.

First, your customers expect you to provide helpful solutions and products right out of the gate. It’s essential that you have the expertise to solve their challenges.

Second, passion can be fun to follow, yet there may not be a market for your passion project.

For example, you might like to build fly rods as a hobby, but you’re not very good at building them.

It’ll be hard to create a fly rod that people will want to purchase until you develop specific skills and experience.

On the other hand, if you enjoy using Notion and you excel at creating Notion templates for different industries, your product will likely find the right customer base.

When I operated my financial services practice, I enjoyed studying the markets, exploring new investments, and creating financial plans. My passion was to assist clients who wanted to accomplish specific financial goals.

I also had several years of diverse experience in the finance industry.

When you pick your business model, take time to make sure you genuinely like your industry and that you have the expertise to create solutions and products people find helpful.

The ideal solopreneur formula is: expertise + passion = a strong start.

The equation for success in a one person business model is expertise plus passion.

Defining Your Niche and Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

Every successful one-person business I know operates within a well-defined niche and offers a unique selling proposition (USP).

Your niche is the specific segment, or sandbox, of the market you want to target.

The problem I often see solopreneurs encounter is choosing a niche that is too broad.

They want to serve every customer, and they fear leaving money on the table if they ‘niche’ down too far.

The opposite is true.

You stand a greater chance of attracting customers who want your products if you identify a smaller niche where you can gain a competitive advantage.

Examples of a suitable niche might include:

  • Single parents who want to begin home schooling their children

  • Married couples who want to start a furniture refurbishing business during their retirement

  • College graduates who want to travel and work abroad in Europe before beginning their professional career

  • Writers who want to earn supplemental income with a freelance business (check out this site with Lauren Ward who excels in the freelance writing arena.)

When you write your simple business plan, take time to explore and discover the appropriate niche, or sandbox, where you can win.

If you pick a sandbox that’s too broad, it’ll be tough to dial in your marketing message and create specific products to solve a specific client problem.

You’re likely to compete with too many other business models that encroach on your area.

If your niche is too small, you may not have enough customers (ex., serving decaf coffee to all coffee lovers in a town of 50 people).

It may take time to discover your ideal niche, and I encourage you to start with a smaller sandbox than one that is too broad.

Your USP (unique selling proposition) is your edge or expertise that sets you apart from your competition.

For example, you may have a special collection of cooking techniques for vegan recipes or a unique talent for crafting clay sculptures.

You might have a special process for teaching French to adults or raising sheep in warm parts of the U.S.

When I started my financial services practice, I made the common mistake of wanting to help everyone.

When I made time to analyze different customer markets and then target prospects who occupied a unique sandbox, my sales grew.

Yes, it took time to find this niche, and it was worth every effort.

If you try to help everyone, you end up helping no one.

Customers seek differences when they choose a solution, and it’s essential that your unique selling proposition helps you stand out in a competitive space.

Your goal in converting your skills into solutions people buy is to present a transition that solves a problem.

Introduce a special process to create this customer objective, and you’ll have an advantage.

Legal Considerations and Business Registrations for a One Person Business Model

This image shows a woman talking with her attorney so she understands the rules of starting a one person business model.
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The legal issues of starting a one-person business can be complex, and you can make big mistakes if you fail to address basic questions.

It’s smart to connect with a local business attorney in your area as you write your strategy statement and business plan.

Yes, you may have to spend a few dollars for legal insight; yet, these fees will likely be much less than any fines or potential penalties you might incur if you fail to adhere to local, national, or international rules once you start operations.

Here are a few questions you can ask your attorney as you create your business model:

  • Do you need to create a special business entity?

  • Do you need to obtain certain licenses?

  • Do you need to consider special trademarks?

  • Do you need to register your business in your local area or state?

A sharp attorney will help you navigate the business regulation landscape for your particular region and industry.

They will give you recommendations on how to proceed and guidelines to follow. It’s also smart to check in with your landlord if you rent your living space.

Most solopreneur business models are digital, yet if you’re going to keep inventory for sale, it’s prudent to see if your lease has any restrictions on business activities within your space.

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There are several do’s and don’ts you can explore if you want to operate a one person business model from home. You can discover several insights into running a home business in this article.

Of course, the ultimate decision to move in one legal direction or another is yours, yet it’s helpful to get legal insight before you start operations.

Setting Up Your Home Office or Workspace

One of the biggest perks of operating a one-person business is the freedom to set up your workspace.

No more waiting in line for the printer or having to get company approval to update your operating system, PC, laptop, and network.

The downside, however, is that you pay for the equipment in your home office and tackle the IT challenges.

Image shows a young man setting up his home office to create a comfortable work environment for his one person business model.
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In my experience, picking and creating an ideal workspace is paramount, as it plays a key role in your productivity.

Ideally, you should choose a space that is devoid of distractions and where you can concentrate on your tasks.

You want the option to close a door, if possible, and block out the noises or distractions in other parts of your residence.

Establishing your home office in an independent room gives you the solitude you’ll need to focus and lets you close the door at the end of the day so you can leave work and enjoy your personal living space.

Here are the items I suggest you secure as you establish your home office:

  • Desk: if you can afford a standing desk that you can raise and lower, you’ll gain energy during your work day

  • Chair: one that keeps your neck and lower back in alignment

  • A pair of noise-canceling headphones

  • PC monitor or laptop that sits on a riser or stand; sitting at your desk with the proper posture and eye position pays dividends to your health

  • Fast internet connection (invest in a top-notch router and modem, if possible.)

Take the time to find and coordinate your ideal workspace, and then implement the best equipment you can afford.

I guarantee your productivity will soar, and you’ll enjoy working from home.

How to Leverage Your Work Experience

Skills and Expertise

A popular solopreneur topic across the internet is imposter syndrome.

This condition often arises when a solopreneur realizes they might be out of their league once they start to create solutions and interact with customers to solve difficult problems.

Is imposter syndrome real? Sure.

Will you encounter it as you start your one-person business? Perhaps.

I did not wrestle with imposter syndrome when I started my first business since I had the education and professional background to build investment portfolios and financial solutions. I was comfortable in the finance space.

Only you can determine which field or industry best aligns with your professional experience.

If you have at least three years of experience in your industry, you should be in great shape.

However, if you’ve been a chef in an Italian restaurant and you now want to start a new business in auto body repair, you may have to spend time in an auto garage before you launch your business.

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If you’re afraid that imposter syndrome might impede your progress and reduce your odds of success, here are my suggestions:

  • Ask friends and colleagues to tell you the three problems they often ask you to solve

  • Apply these problem-solving skills to an industry where you have experience (ideally more than 3 years)

  • Identify a BIG customer problem in your industry that you feel comfortable tackling

  • Create a process or product that fixes this customer problem and test it in the marketplace

When you apply these steps, you’ll begin your business in a sandbox where you have the requisite expertise and experience.

You’ll have the confidence to present specific solutions for tough challenges, which is key when you interact with customers.

Your confidence will increase, and your business success will accelerate, when you demonstrate your ability to solve client problems you understand.

If you focus on the right sandbox and the problems you have experienced fixing, you’ll likely never face imposter syndrome.

Learning and Self-Development

Simply because you launch your business in a sandbox you know and an industry you understand does not mean you should stop learning.

Quite the contrary.

Success in a one-person business is not only about what you already know but also about your commitment to learning and self-development.

Continually improve your skills, adapt to market changes, and stay up-to-date with industry trends.

One of the ways in which I stay up-to-date on specific industry trends and customer preferences is through newsletters.

Yes, it’s easy to oversubscribe to newsletters and then ignore them.

I suggest you pick 2 or 3 in your industry and 2 in a related industry.

Give yourself a few issues to see if the author(s) hit home on the key topics and write in a style that appeals to you.

If you enjoy learning about the ins and outs of converting your skills into solutions people buy, you can check out Solopreneur Doorway.

The right newsletter combination will give you weekly or biweekly solutions to common business challenges and remind you of key themes to address within finance, marketing, and operations.

Plus, you’ll gain insight into your competition, which may compel you to make smart changes to your business model.

Building a Personal Brand

Creating your personal brand is a long-term process, yet it pays consistent dividends.

We can spend days on the do’s and don’ts of establishing your personal brand. Let’s keep it simple with two questions:

  • What is a personal brand?

  • How do you create your personal brand?

What is a personal brand?

Simply stated, your personal brand is the ‘feeling’ customers get when they interact with you, your solutions, and your products.

It’s the collection of emotions that customers experience when they read your newsletter, visit your site, or purchase your solutions.

These emotions compel your clients and customers to follow you, connect with you and become a part of your ‘tribe.’

Such emotions might include happiness, security, humor, and empathy.

When you think about Apple’s products, you get an instant sensation of what those products can do and how they make you feel when you use them. This occurs because Apple has spent billions of dollars crafting an image and a reputation.

You don’t need to spend billions to build your brand, yet I encourage you to write down a few words that you want people to use when they think of your products.

  • Fast
  • Affordable
  • Convenient
  • Simple

Your products and solutions should, ideally, solve a big client problem.

Your personal brand conveys your passion to solve these problems, and it builds a strong bond between you and your customers.

How do you create your personal brand?

You need three components to build a positive personal brand:

  • Time
  • Consistency
  • Message


It may take years to fully develop your personal brand.

Yes, I know this is a long time, yet consider how much competition you face.

Remember, your customers don’t know you yet, and they encounter thousands of data points each week. They can absorb a limited amount of information during the day and will tune in to your messages over subsequent weeks, months, and years.

If you post on social media for a year, you might develop a reasonable number of followers (via LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok), yet only a handful will pay close attention to your message.

Lauren Ward discusses her insight on how to grow your Linkedin audience in this blog post.

While you might develop a large follower base, statistics show It takes a long time to foster a community of customers who consistently follow your content and who trust your insight. Be patient, and give yourself time to build your brand.

Coke, Apple, and Disney built their big brands over decades.


Many solopreneurs abandon their efforts to build their personal brand too soon.

Frustration sets in when they don’t get fast traction on one social media platform. They quickly move on to another platform, and the pattern repeats. This is a shortsighted strategy that you ought to avoid.

One of the keys to consistently expanding and strengthening your personal brand is to develop a posting schedule that fits your schedule. I

f you work full-time, set aside a few minutes before or after work when you can post a message or video to the platform you choose.

While it’s tempting to start posting on 3 or more platforms at once, I recommend you pick one.

Learn the ins and outs of this platform and refine your message.

Once your brand starts to grow and you gain followers who look forward to your content, you can then expand to another social media space.

I’d suggest you dedicate one year to one platform before you move on to a second.

Don’t worry that you’re brand will suffer if you only pick one social media platform to start with.

Whether you create a post or newsletter that you send out on a daily, weekly, or biweekly schedule, your customers will adopt your timing if you remain consistent.

While some social media platforms require a more frequent posting schedule, your job is to pick a platform and schedule you can maintain.

As you look at your day-to-day tasks for operating your business, be honest about the time you can commit to posting on social media. It’s better to start slowly and increase your frequency than to commit to a frequency you can’t’ maintain.


The messages you send to your community should reflect your mission and vision statements.

While your content should add value, solve problems, and provide insight, your message should also display your personality. You can use humor and empathy to create your ‘voice.’

As your posting experience grows, you’ll find that your messages adopt a certain tone.

It’s okay to mix up your tone from time to time, but don’t fall victim to a shotgun approach.

Once you find which tone and posts resonate with your audience, stick to them.

Your audience will identify with you more often and develop a stronger connection with your business if you maintain a consistent attitude and personality within your content.

The Pros of a One Person Business Model

Independence and Control

One of the most enticing aspects of the one-person business model is the independence and control it offers.

You make the decisions, set the direction, and are your own boss. This freedom can be empowering.

Independence can also be daunting. There are multiple tasks and responsibilities within the one person business model.

Many solopreneurs suggest they work much harder to operate their own business than they do as employees.

While it’s true you’ll have autonomy to make business choices and choose your own schedule, it’s imperative that you develop a schedule you can maintain.

In the first few weeks, you’ll likely feel there are too many tasks to tackle. This feeling will ease once you start to operate.

Use a calendar and organization system that suits you, and be diligent about sticking only to the tasks that drive revenue and secure new business.

As your revenue increases, you might consider seeking help with a virtual assistant. The right VA can handle a boatload of tasks and free you up to focus on strategy, new business, and sales.

I wrote about how to collaborate with a virtual assistant and included an interview with a dynamic business owner who specializes in that arena.


The ability to tailor your work to your lifestyle is a significant advantage. Whether you’re a night owl or an early riser, a one-person business allows you to create a schedule that suits you.

Take time in the first several months to track the days and times when you are most productive. You might find that you can best manage your business and personal schedule when you set up specific times to work and play.

Experiment with different options, and I assure you, you’ll find the ideal approach.

Direct Connection with Customers

In a one-person business, you have a direct connection with your customers. You can provide personalized service, respond to feedback quickly, and build genuine relationships.

As your business grows, you’ll want to seek additional support. You can collaborate with a virtual assistant or hire a part-time (or full-time) employee.

If you opt to hire employees, I encourage you to chat with your business attorney.

Employees bring tremendous leverage to your business and a few additional responsibilities. You’ll be happier if you structure any employment agreements with insight and advice from your legal aides.

Low Overhead and Expenses

The financial burden of running a one-person business is often lower than that of larger enterprises. There are no huge employee salaries or large office rentals, which can lead to higher profit margins.

The biggest financial issue I see with new solopreneurs is cash management. When you move from a steady employee paycheck to an up-and-down money cycle in the solopreneur world, you need to carefully watch your cash flow.

Buying equipment, paying for monthly technology subscriptions, and then waiting for customers to pay you (or buy your solutions) can cause financial stress.

As you write your business plan, you might want to chat with your financial advisor and accountant to gain important insight on key financial topics. Build a forecast of your expenses and your sales so you can feel comfortable waiting for your business to generate cash flow.

In addition, remember that it’s not always easy or fun to track your expenses, coordinate your bank statements, and prepare monthly financial reviews. If you have a financial background, you might feel comfortable tackling those duties.

If not, you might explore collaborating with a bookkeeper.

A professional bookkeeper can help you organize your finances and interact with your accountant when it’s tax time.

The Cons of a One Person Business

Isolation and Loneliness

Running a one-person business can be isolating. You miss out on the camaraderie of a traditional office environment.

There are a few helpful ways to combat this isolation so you can maintain energy, momentum, and confidence.

  • Join a Facebook group that focuses on your industry and exchange ideas with other solopreneurs. (I belong to two different groups on blogging: each helps me advance my writing and business model.)

  • Coordinate a weekly online meetup with two or three other folks who operate a one person business model (they don’t need to work in your industry).

  • Set up a weekly or bi-monthly meeting to have coffee or lunch with other solopreneurs; set an agenda for each meeting; and and take turns educating one another on insight and tips to advance your business.

When I launched my newsletter, Solopreneur Doorway, I met weekly with two other incredible solopreneurs who were in the early phases of starting their newsletter. The meetings helped us exchange ideas and support one another in a new endeavor.

Work-Life Balance Challenges

Image shows a solopreneur working at his desk and illustrating the potential loneliness of a one person business model.
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Balancing work and your personal life can be challenging when you’re solely responsible for your business. It’s crucial to establish clear boundaries and allocate time for relaxation and self-care.

Simple steps, including a walk, a workout, and even a few minutes of stretching in your home, can give you energy. I work for 30-minute stretches and then get up from my desk to clear my head.

Set your agenda and remember to keep your brain and body active as you work. Refresh and rejuvenate to keep your day productive.

Limited Resources and Expertise

In a one-person business, you may face resource limitations. You might need to wear multiple hats and learn new skills. However, these challenges can be overcome with dedication and a growth mindset.

It’s fun to learn new skills and develop further layers of expertise. In the early days, you’ll likely have to solve tech, operations, financial, and customer challenges.

Once you gain momentum, I encourage you to focus on one or two key responsibilities.

Dedicate all other tasks to automation (technology or websites that assist you) or start to collaborate with a virtual assistant.

Risk and Uncertainty

Every business venture carries risks, and one-person business models are no exception.

Economic downturns or shifts in your industry can impact your earnings. Building an emergency fund and staying adaptable are key strategies to mitigate risks.

It’s essential that you keep track of your business finance accounts and make smart decisions to manage cash flow.

The one person business model can bring outstanding financial rewards. It won’t happen right away. Plan accordingly, and be honest about the amount of money you need to operate and expand your business.

It’s always smart to chat with your accountant and financial advisor.

How to Market Your One Person Business

Image of a billboard on the side of a busy highway that reads 'personal brand.'
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Personal Branding

A strong business brand, along with a well-crafted personal brand, can set you apart in a crowded market. Consistency in messaging and visual identity is key.

I believe most solopreneurs start with their personal brand and then introduce components of their business. These days, consumers want to buy from individuals they trust and who can help them solve a key challenge.

If you can dedicate time to a specific social media channel (or write a weekly newsletter), you’ll have the opportunity to build both brands. Remember, this takes time. I

If you’re curious how a newsletter can advance your business, I share details of my newsletter experiences in this Solopreneur Doorway issue.

Leveraging Testimonials and Reviews

Gaining traction in your solo venture can be daunting in the first few months. When you interact with a customer who has had a positive experience, ask them to share a testimonial.

These positive reviews enhance your credibility and encourage potential customers to trust your products or services.

Encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews and then post them to your website and social media profiles. There are many online tools you can use to simplify the testimonial experience.

You might check out Senja. I use them and have found their interface easy to implement when I collect testimonials.

How to Finance Your One Person Business


Many one-person businesses start with minimal investment, relying on personal savings or income generated from the business itself. This bootstrapping approach reduces the need for external financing.

If you choose to use money from your personal savings or checking account, I encourage you to build a budget and chat with your financial advisor.

It’s always helpful to fully understand what financial implications your one person business model might bring to your personal finances. In the long run, your finances may benefit from the one-person business model, yet it can be a rollercoaster in the early months and years.

It’s helpful to fully understand how much money you’ll need to keep your lifestyle on track as you adjust to operating your business.

Small Business Loans

If your business requires significant capital, you can consider exploring small business loans or grants tailored for entrepreneurs. In this category, I suggest chatting with a local bank to explore your options.

While larger banks may or may not suit your risk profile, you might find that local banks can help you understand the pros and cons of securing a loan.

Again, chat with your financial advisor and accountant to ensure you understand and adjust to any financial commitments you might make with a lender.

Saving and Budgeting

Sound financial management is essential.

Create a detailed budget, save for future expenses, and monitor your finances closely to ensure sustainability. Whether you use your own spreadsheets or collaborate with a bookkeeper, it’s vital that you stay on track with your financial responsibilities.

Your accountant can make recommendations on the types of business banking accounts you might consider and how to use those accounts to stay in compliance.

How to Operate Your One Person Business

Time Management and Productivity Tools

Efficiency is paramount for one-person business models. Utilize time management and productivity tools, like calendars and task management apps, to stay organized and focused.

Every solopreneur finds different tools to help maximize productivity and keep a healthy balance between work hours and personal time.

Financial Management

Maintaining accurate financial records is crucial. Financial management software can simplify invoicing, expense tracking, and tax preparation.

I encourage you to reach out to your financial advisor and accountant when you are planning your new venture.

Each of those professionals will ask you questions and provide insight you may have never considered. In addition, you’ll likely gain more free time to pursue new business if you collaborate with a bookkeeper.

Maximizing Earnings in a One Person Business

Diversifying Income Streams

It’s popular to tell solopreneurs that they have to generate income from multiple sources in order to have a viable business.

While this makes sense on paper, the reality is different. Don’t spread your business across too many channels when you start. Instead, take the time to develop your solopreneur strategy so you can test, improve, and launch one successful product or service.

You may want to follow the social media superstars who have six or seven ‘passive’ income streams. I empathize. It’s an attractive option to collect income from multiple channels.

In the first several months, stay true to your initial product or service and make it viable before you expand into other revenue channels.

Once you gain traction with an audience and you build your ‘brand’, you’ll have options to diversify and bring on other revenue sources.

Pricing Strategies

Establishing competitive and profitable pricing strategies is essential. Research your market and competitors to set your prices effectively. It can be difficult to settle on the right pricing strategy for your specific business.

The common pricing strategies include bundling, low-priced options, and high-priced options. Each carries pros and cons. I suggest you closely research your industry and your competition to see which options make sense for your niche.

You can explore pricing strategies in this issue of Solopreneur Doorway.

Scaling and Growth

While a one-person business may start small, don’t overlook the potential for growth. Identify opportunities as you proceed that can unlock a new customer base and expand your personal brand.

When I launched my solopreneur finance practice, it took me at least a year to properly identify my niche and implement a strategy that worked well with my customer demographics.

Solopreneurs often make the mistake of investing too much too soon in tools, courses, and products that don’t add immediate value. Yes, I encourage you to learn and explore your industry.

Growth in your one person business model comes from expanding your market (within the right niche) and positive customer testimonials.

Focus on solving one BIG customer challenge and overdelivering on your solutions. A positive customer journey from ‘ouch’ to ‘oh, yes!’ generates tremendous momentum. Happy customers will help you scale faster than most products.


The one person business model is more popular today than ever.

If you have the energy, expertise, the right risk profile, and a solid strategy, I am confident you can create a sensational business. Remember these key points, and you’ll have a tremendous advantage.

  • Identify your passion and skills

  • Define your niche and unique selling proposition

  • Consult with your business attorney

  • Set up your home office

  • Leverage your work experience in a particular industry

  • Understand the pros and cons of a one person business model

  • Explore strategies to market, finance and operate your business

When you’re ready, you can explore a strategy session to save time and launch your business with confidence. I wish you tremendous success in your venture.

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