The solopreneur career path has been rapidly gaining traction in recent years, and for good reason. People are reevaluating what’s important to them, both in-and-out of work, and opting for a new career lifestyle. One that affords them the flexibility of being their own boss, with the security of minimal overhead costs.
If you’ve been inspired by stories of solopreneur success, or the idea of self-employment has caught your attention, then you might be hoping to set up your own one-person business. But where do you start?
In this guide, we’ll take you through 12 of the best solopreneur business types, explaining how they work, and sharing some advice on how to get started.
But before we get into any of that, let’s first recap some of the basics.
What is a solopreneur?
A solopreneur is an individual who is both the owner and sole employee of a business.
While an entrepreneur may start a company on their own, they will usually aim to grow and eventually sell the business. A solopreneur simply seeks a steady income and the flexibility of self-employment.
As a solopreneur, you are ultimately responsible for organizing, managing, and assuming the risks of your business, without the help of a partner.
It doesn’t mean you can’t bring in support where you need it, but being a solopreneur means you’ll typically be doing most of the work yourself.
Could a one-person business be right for you?
A solopreneur business model blends the freedom of running your own business, with the simplicity of only being responsible for yourself. It's easy to see why they’ve become so appealing.
Here are some of the biggest advantages you’ll enjoy when running a one-person business:
- Low cost to get started—solopreneur businesses generally don’t require too much investment to get started, especially in comparison to a more traditional small business.
- Keep it simple with only one stakeholder—fewer employees mean fewer complications, as well as lower running costs and less paperwork to stay on top of.
- Be your own boss—you are entirely in control of the overall direction and operation of your business, on your time and your terms.
- 100% ownership—meaning you have complete share of any profits.
Once you’re set on the prospect of starting your own solopreneur business, the first step in making your ambition a reality is to decide on a business idea.
12 of the best solopreneur business ideas you could start today
The beauty of the one-person business model is that you really can do anything you want, providing it’s feasible as a self-sustaining business.
There’s a plethora of solopreneur business types out there, too many to cover in one place. To give you a little inspiration, here are 12 of the most popular solopreneur businesses you could start today:
- Content Creator - Video & Podcasting
- Graphic Design & Photography
- Dog Grooming & Dog Walking
- Personal Trainer
- Web Developer, Software Developer, or Mobile App Developer
- Virtual Assistant
- Events Planner
- Artisan, Craft Designer, or Etsy Seller
A blogger creates and publishes written content on a personal website or publishing platform. The term originates from the early days of the World Wide Web and the phrase “web log”, which was later abbreviated to “blog”.
Think of bloggers as the original social media influencers. They are content creators and thought leaders. While they may have been around for a long time, they are by no means a dying breed. In fact, bloggers have been making something of a resurgence in recent years.
A blogger will typically have a chosen topic area around which they’ll create content, such as fashion, recipes, or interior design. By regularly publishing posts, they aim to gain and grow a following. They can then monetize this with sponsored “affiliate links” to partnered storefronts, or earn through advertisements on the blog itself.
To get started as a blogger, you’ll need the following:
- An idea of what your blog will be about—is there anything you are an expert in, or especially passionate about? The more unique or niche your blog is, the easier it is to stand out from the crowd.
- A blogging platform—this could be a standalone website that you run yourself, a profile on a third-party blogging platform like Medium or Blogger, or something else entirely.
- A content strategy—having an idea for your blog is a great start, but to flourish, you need to think about content strategy. What will you write about? How will you generate traffic? How will you monetize, and when?
- A creative workflow—underpinning all of this, you will need a workflow to ensure you stay on track and stay productive. Whether you’re in need of a writing tool, like Dropbox Paper, or file storage to keep all your drafts organized, Dropbox is here to help.
Content Creator - Video & Podcasting
Following in the footsteps of traditional bloggers, multimedia content creators have a huge potential to earn, providing they can break through to a large enough audience.
Mainly producing content for YouTube or podcasting platforms, these solopreneurs typically earn money through brand sponsorship deals, affiliate marketing, and monetization of their content through in-platform advertising.
To get started in this space, you’ll need to think about:
- Recording equipment—whether that’s a podcasting microphone, or a high-quality video camera. While production quality isn’t everything, it can certainly help to make your content stand out to new viewers.
- A creator profile—you’ll want to think about your personal branding and setup a profile on your platform of choice. Presentation and first impressions can count for a lot, so take time to think about whether you want to publish under your own name, a persona, or something else entirely.
- Editing software—nobody does it perfectly in one take. You’ll want some editing software so you can make your content as polished and engaging as possible. Thankfully, with Dropbox app-integrations, you can get the benefits of cloud storage whilst working in your favorite editing apps.
- Large file transfer—working with video and audio means working with huge raw files. And sometimes, you’ll need to transfer these files between machines. With Dropbox Transfer, you can send up to 100 GB of files at a time, with secure encryption to keep your assets safe.
Graphic Design & Photography
Graphic designers and photographers typically operate as freelancers or sole traders, providing their services to both businesses and members of the public.
In the case of graphic designers, your source of business will primarily be other businesses. Whereas for photographers, you might make money from a combination of requests from businesses, as well as more personal requests like wedding photography.
Here are some things to consider for either of these career paths:
- Pick a photography focus—if you’re going for the photography route, then it can help to pick a focus that you can advertise for more directly. For example, if you were to promote yourself as a wedding or events photographer, then your business will be more appealing to people looking for those services.
- List yourself on directories as a freelance graphic designer—it can help to think about setting yourself up on freelance platforms like Fiverr and Upwork. This way, businesses looking for your skillset can find you and ask you for quotes. You might also want to consider creating a professional website with a portfolio of your work.
- Keep your favorite design tools on-hand—if you’re considering a career in graphic design, you will likely already have access to—and experience with—editing software. There’s no need to choose between the benefits of online cloud storage and local desktop design applications. With Dropbox app-integrations, you can continue to use this software without sacrificing the benefits of cloud storage.
- Share your work securely—for budding photographers looking to make a business of their passion for photography, Dropbox is the ideal space for storing, editing and sharing your work. With secure large file transfers, watermarking, and branded file sharing, it’s easy to make a lasting impression with your clients.
For more inspiration, check our full guide on how to start a photography business.
If you’re a confident writer, but don’t think setting up a personal blog is the right path for you, then a career in freelance copywriting might be the answer.
Similar to graphic design, your primary source of income will be providing services to businesses in need of writing support. This may involve writing articles, advertising copy, or product information for their website—to name just a few examples.
- Make yourself discoverable—a good first step will be to get yourself onto freelance platforms and start building up a client list.
- Build up a portfolio—create some examples to showcase your range as a writer. If you have existing work you can repurpose, fantastic. Otherwise, set some mock briefs for yourself and have a go at fulfilling them. Get critique from peers and listen to it. Once you’re satisfied, you can publish your portfolio to showcase to prospective clients.
- Establish a copywriting workflow—once you’ve got work coming in, Dropbox can help you stay organized and productive. Dropbox Paper is the home for all your writing projects, with cloud storage and file sharing features that make it easy to send work to clients and gather feedback, all in one place.
Dog Grooming & Dog Walking
Dog grooming and dog walking businesses are popular for those that love to work with animals and enjoy the great outdoors.
These solo businesses make money from bookings for clients, either recurring or intermittently. Building up a roster of regular clients
- Get certified—if you’re considering this solopreneur career path, it goes without saying that experience with dogs is a must. While qualifications aren’t a legal requirement for dog groomers, you may want to consider taking a course in grooming and styling, so you can reassure potential customers. This goes for dog walking too: training and safety courses will give you additional accreditation to reassure your customers.
- Expand your repertoire—not a dog person? You could also consider cat sitting, providing a much-needed service for cat owners that need to leave home for a few days. In fact, why stop there? There will undoubtedly be a market of tortoise and fish tank owners looking for sitters too!
- Get organized—the more bookings you can safely fit into a given time, without sacrificing the quality of service, the more profitable the business will be. In short, it pays to be organized. Fortunately, with Dropbox productivity and project management tools, it’s easier than ever to stay on track.
Have you had an illustrious career or academic tenure in a particular field? If so, consultancy might be worth considering.
A consultant is a specialist in a particular area of expertise, such as business, marketing, or any other field. Consultants make money by offering their knowledge and expertise to businesses. This may involve supporting directly on a project, running seminars and training workshops on their behalf, or advising leadership on strategic decisions.
Sound interesting? Here are thought starters for aspiring self-employed consultants to consider:
- Pick a niche that fits your skills and experience—due to its nature, consultancy requires a degree of proven experience in a field. If you’ve spent a few years working in a particular industry, this is ideal.
- Get accredited—while not always crucial, certification may help depending on your chosen field. For example, if you’re looking to consult in accountancy or legal matters, then getting the relevant qualifications to talk about these topics with authority will be a must.
- Choose a target market—think about the area in which you are specializing, who commonly needs help in this space? Do certain types of business struggle on their own? Is there a price gap for businesses that can’t afford expensive consultancy firms? Try to identify an audience that would benefit from your services.
- Build a network—once you have addressed market research, think about how to reach your chosen audience. Social media, advertising, and email outreach can be a great way to get started. It can also help to have an existing network of contacts, even former clients, from your previous industry experience.
- Make a lasting impression—as a consultant, you’re not just focused on delivering great work, but also building your personal brand and making a name for yourself. Dropbox helps make this easy, with a seamless workflow, advanced sharing, and branded file transfer. It’s a great way to help you deliver great work on-time, and with your own professional flair.
Do you live for the gym? With a little extra training, you could kickstart a career helping others as a personal trainer.
A personal trainer works with people to help them achieve their fitness goals. This might be weight loss, strength building, or training for an upcoming event like a marathon, to name just a handful of examples.
If this description has got your blood pumping, then here are some things to think about:
- Get certified—while having a qualification to practice as a personal trainer isn’t a strict legal requirement in the US, you will find it difficult to find customers or get approval from gyms. Start by finding and completing appropriate certification.
- Find a mentor—if you’re serious about a career as a PT, you should also consider seeking a mentor. This is common in this category, to train with an experienced peer and get a detailed understanding of the intricacies of the business.
- Think about how customers will find you—if you’re approved by a local gym to work on their premises, they will often be happy to display your information in the gym. Beyond this, think about setting up a page for your business on social media, a local business listing on Google, and even consider running some advertising.
- Make it easy for your clients to track their regimen—once you’re up and running, you’ll need to set a schedule of available training slots and stick to it. It’s also likely you’ll want to compile detailed notes about each client, so you can stay on top of their goals. With Dropbox Paper, you can set your schedule and create write-ups to share with your clients. You could even create an exercise nutrition plan and share it with password protection, allowing them to confidentially record how they got on each day.
Web Developer, Software Developer, or Mobile App Developer
If you’re a skilled programmer, you can offer your services to businesses as a freelance developer.
This will follow a similar business model to the other freelance categories we outlined earlier, like graphic design and copywriting. The key difference is that you are providing programming services in a programming language you are experienced with.
Some tips to consider:
- Lead with your experience and skillset—while you may be something of a jack of all trades, it can help to put your best foot forward and lead with your biggest area of expertise. A business looking for a React developer will pick a freelancer that advertises themselves as this, over a more generic “experienced developer” listing.
- Set yourself up on the freelancer directories—as with the other freelance categories, developers should set themselves up on popular freelance directories like Upwork and Fiverr.
- Get organized—think about setting up cloud storage to keep all your work in one place and make it easy to share files when you need to. It’s likely you’ll be working with GitHub and other directories provided by your clients. But for everything else, including your invoices and project planning, you can securely store and share it with cloud storage.
A lot of businesses and entrepreneurs need help handling incoming calls and managing their diaries, but can’t afford to bring someone in full-time.
If you’re skilled at organization and project management, then a solo business providing virtual assistant services might be ideal for you.
A virtual assistant provides everything an in-office assistant typically would while operating remotely from their home. That could include things like file management, administrative tasks, meeting organization, and taking calls.
If this sounds like a dream, then consider these thought starters:
- Develop your skills—ensure you are confident with booking appointments, making travel arrangements, managing calendars, sending emails and making posts to social media. To help boost your confidence, it might help to participate in a course designed around these skillsets.
- Showcase your skills—you may want to create a website with a portfolio of your skills, testimonials from past clients, and details around your services
- Come equipped with the best project management and organization tools—with Dropbox Paper and other productivity tools, you can help your clients reinvent their workflows and operate more efficiently
Do you throw the best parties? When you find your friends scrambling, hopelessly trying to plan their next big trip, do you often need to step in to get the job done?
A solopreneur career as an events planner could be your calling.
Events planners specialize in, well, planning events. They could be wedding planners, festival organizers, or party planners—to name just a few examples. They are skilled project managers who typically make their money by providing planning services to groups looking to host an event.
Here are some tips for those looking to break into this alluring industry:
- Get qualified—events planning and management can be a lot more complex than it may seem at a surface level. There are plenty of specialized courses available to bring you up to speed with the intricacies, which can help you to feel more prepared.
- Get experience—people are going to want to know that they can trust you with planning and managing their event. If you haven’t got formal career experience in this category, then think about how you can provide some events planning services to friends and family for free. You could even consider throwing some events in your local community to get a taste of the job.
- Get organized—with so many moving parts, it’s key to always be one step ahead of the game. That’s why Dropbox project management tools are perfect for any budding events planner.
- Get creative and make a splash for your clients—events planning isn’t just about project management, it’s also about listening to your clients ideas and bringing them to life, on a budget. Mood boards and visual examples can be a great way to win over clients in your early conversations. Dropbox Paper can be a perfect place to drop a variety of images, video, GIFs and sounds, as well as detailed timelines for your proposals.
Artisan, Craft Designer, or Etsy Seller
Do you love to make things? If your work is good enough to sell, why not make it your business?
Whether you have skills in crafting jewelry, woodworking, knitting, artwork, or anything else, there could well be an audience out there that would like to buy your products. One of the most common ways for solopreneurs to operate their craft business is through Etsy, an online marketplace for independent craftspeople and designers to sell their products.
If you’d like to try your hand at turning your crafting hobby into cash, consider these tips:
- Choose your craft—think about your skillset and what people might be willing to buy. If you’re an artist or graphic designer, then you might want to sell prints or design customizable birthday cards. If you work with wood, then you might prefer to specialize in creating custom furniture pieces. It might help to look at what’s currently available on Etsy and use this for inspiration, or to identify gaps in the market.
- Set up your seller profile—once you’ve got a target market in your sights, it’s time to set up your business. The easiest way to do this is to create a seller account on Etsy, which makes it easy to make your business discoverable, receive customer orders, and process finances. It’s free to set up a store, but beyond that you will need to pay a $0.20 listing fee per item you sell, to list it on Etsy for four months. If you’d rather go the independent route, you could also set up your own website or social media presence and take orders that way.
- Make a good impression—consider hiring a professional photographer to capture your designs in their best light. It also helps to spend some time thinking about the name and branding of your storefront, to make sure you convey the right message to potential customers.
- Think about fulfilment—how will you ship your items to customers? If you’re selling tables, your shipping needs will be vastly different than those for sending a custom greetings card. You might also want to think about where in the world you are willing to ship to, and whether customs laws mean you need to think about additional fees.
- Keep good financial records—this isn’t just a hobby anymore, it’s a business, and it will pay in the long run to stay on top of your bookkeeping. Not only will it help you to keep track of any legal or tax information that you may need in future, you’ll also be able to analyze performance and optimize your business to focus on the products that turn the highest profit. Dropbox makes it easy to store and organize digital copies of your financial records—plus you can back them up, to ensure you’ve always got a copy for safekeeping.
Continuing the theme of online sales as a one-person venture, a new type of seller has started to emerge in recent years. Introducing: The Dropshipper.
What is dropshipping? It’s a new approach to ecommerce, through which a seller processes customer orders without directly having those goods in stock. Think of it like curating a list of products, which customers can then choose to buy from your storefront.
When a customer completes their order, your store automatically sends the order request to the wholesale supplier of the product. The supplier then prepares your customer’s order and ships it to them.
As a dropshipper, you play the role of a tastemaker, and your value to customers is in sourcing and recommending products.
If this sounds like your bag, here are some things to think about:
- Choose your niche—while not crucial, it can help to choose a particular category you want to specialize in. For example, if you’ve got a good design eye, then you may want to focus on interior design pieces and furniture products. Alternatively, if you’re passionate about parenting, you may want to specialize in products for new parents and their babies.
- Find your supplier—outside of yourself, the dropshipper, the other major parties in the process are the manufacturer and the supplier. You will need to find a product supplier, who will then work with the manufacturer to source the products and keep a stock of them to send to your customers. You can find suppliers through supplier databases, like Alibaba and AliExpress, or through an integrated supplier directory, like DSers, in your store’s back-end.
- Build your ecommerce store—you’ll need an ecommerce platform to handle your orders and showcase products to your customers. You could set up your own website, or work with an ecommerce platform, like Shopify. Be sure to spend time getting the look and feel of your storefront just right, as first impressions can be crucial to closing a sale.
- Keep your finances organized—once your dropshipping business is up and running, you’ll need to have your finances in order. Ideally, you’ll want a business checking account, into which all revenue is deposited, and all expenses are withdrawn. This way, you’ll have a single account to review for account purposes. You’ll also need to think about sales tax if you’re based in a state that collects sales tax and the customer is also ordering from your state. With so many financial records, it can help to use a secure cloud storage and record management solution like Dropbox to keep everything safely in one place.
With Dropbox, you don’t need to go completely solo
Being a solopreneur can be a fantastic way to enjoy the freedom that comes with running your own business, and the first step is to decide on a business idea.
Once that’s settled, it’s time to bring in some support. Not employees—but rather Dropbox’s suite of tools and features. Each one will help you spend less time trying to stay organized, and more time delivering for your customers.
Dropbox is designed to make your working day as collaborative as possible. Whether you're working alone on a project or want to invite clients into a space to feedback on the work you've delivered, Dropbox has a feature to help.
Simple, secure file sharing and cloud storage is only the beginning. It’s only a matter of time before you start collaborating in real-time across huge distances, or receive live feedback and annotations on your latest video project. You can even set up an automated cloud backup of your computer—just in case the worst happens, and you need to restore your files later.