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7 min read

Is Starting A One-Person Business Really The Right Move For You?

Is Starting A One-Person Business Really The Right Move For You?


Access this episode's full transcript here.

Since starting The One-Person Business podcast, a common question Joe and Carly get asked is whether a person would do well running a one-person business. In this very short episode of the podcast, the co-hosts share their two cents.

Things to Consider Before Starting a One-Person Business

  • Are you self-motivated?
  • Can you deal with the isolation of working alone?
  • Are you good with prioritization and time management?
  • Can you handle criticism?

Plus many other points you need to consider before diving in.

Want to share your experiences and learn from other one-person businesses? Be sure to join our community! It's free :)

Need help starting, running, and/or growing your solopreneur business? The Solopreneur Success Cycle can help! Access it here.


Full Episode Transcript

Joe Rando (00:00):

This alone is not a good reason to start any business, including a one-person business. If you can pass these two tests, then there are a few questions to ask yourself in this order. If you hit a no, stop there and rethink the business until it becomes a yes, and then go on

Intro (00:16):

Bigger. Doesn't it always mean better? Welcome to the One-Person Business podcast where people who are flying solo in business come for specific tips and advice to find success as a company of one. Here are your hosts, Joe Rando and Carly Ries.

Carly Ries (00:35):

Welcome to the One Person Business podcast. I'm one of your hosts, Carly Ries.

Joe Rando (00:39):

And I'm Joe Rando.

Carly Ries (00:41):

And today we have a relatively short podcast for you because we want to address something we get asked a lot, "Should I start my own business?" So we wanted to share our thoughts.

Joe Rando (00:51):

There are a lot of reasons to start your own business, but let's start by looking at two reasons not to start a business. The first one is, I want to start my own business, any business. Though it sounds counterintuitive, it's a terrible reason to start a business unless it's accompanied by a particular skill and preferably some passion. Also, running any business is hard work, and if you're not good at it and or don't like what you're doing, it will devolve from difficult to painful very quickly. The second reason not to start a business is that you're doing it to become a millionaire. Many millionaires become that way by starting their own business, but not many people that start businesses become millionaires. Plus, becoming a millionaire usually results from the passion and skill brought to the business, not just from the desire to be rich. So this alone is not a good reason to start any business, including a one-person business. If you can pass these two tests, then there are a few questions to ask yourself, in this order. If you hit a no, stop there and rethink the business until it becomes a yes. And then go on. Carly, why don't you start us off?

Carly Ries (01:59):

Absolutely. The first, "Am I self motivated?" This is a big one. When you're working with team members, you often have deadlines from others you need to hit and you and your coworkers can hold each other accountable. But when you're a one person show, making things happen is all on you. You have to ask yourself if your drive comes from pleasing others, or if it comes from within, and be really honest with yourself with that.

Joe Rando (02:25):

The second one is, "Can I deal with the isolation of working alone?" Particularly if you're an extrovert. Look at how much alone time will be involved in running your one-person business. Ask yourself if you'll be okay with that. If it's iffy, explore ways you might combat isolation, like co-working spaces or online communities. While some of the big name co-working spaces can be a bit pricey, there are often individually owned spaces that are more affordable, and particularly around colleges and universities.

Carly Ries (02:55):

The next one is, "Am I good with prioritization and time management?" This goes hand in hand with being self-motivated, but as a person flying solo, you need to decide what's important and what isn't, and prioritize your time accordingly. This often means doing the hard work before the fun work. And as great as this is, your brain can actually trick you into thinking the fun work is the priority when it isn't. So watch out for that. You must be mindful and know what items are on your list are more time sensitive and hold more value.

Joe Rando (03:25):

The next question is, "Am I good at this thing?" I want to do little story about me. When I was in high school, I wanted to make it big in the music business with my band. I got a book on how to make it big in the music business. I read the book, but as I read it, I realized the biggest issue we faced is that we weren't very good. This was pretty much a showstopper. Nothing can help you if you can't deliver a quality product. By the way, we rented a place for the summer and practiced 10 hours per day and got good, but we still didn't make it in the music biz.

Carly Ries (03:56):

Joe, can I include your hair in the show notes from that timeframe?

Joe Rando (04:00):

How much will you pay me?

Carly Ries (04:02):

<laugh>? Okay, not worth it, <laugh>. So the next one is, the hardest one for me, honestly, "Can I handle criticism?" It's so tough as a solopreneur. If things fail, it's your fault. If clients aren't happy, it's your fault. If you get rejected time and time again in your sales approach, ask yourself, will that bring you down or motivate you? You have to be honest with yourself and with how you'll handle these types of situations. Even IF you can handle these types of situations,

Joe Rando (04:33):

That's such a great point that I hadn't thought about. The idea of being in a one-person business means you're selling yourself and you're gonna get a lot of nos. If you're not the type of person that can bring yourself to embrace those nos, we heard that with Greg Rutan, right? If it doesn't energize you, it's really hard. So it's something to think about

Carly Ries (04:54):

And that's not to say you can't practice. I take stuff so personally. That's why I say this question is so hard for me, but you can practice. So just ask yourself, is it a deal breaker or is it something you could really work on to make your business happen?

Joe Rando (05:10):

Or is it even the right job for you? Maybe it's just not a good fit, and you certainly can't take that personally.

Carly Ries (05:17):


Joe Rando (05:18):

Okay, question six, "Can I handle the risk level of this business?" If you have a skill that people need, like you're a web developer or a graphic designer and you want to start your own freelance type business, those risks are relatively low, particularly if you already have connections to potential customers. However, if you have an idea for a new app video game, or some other startup-y business, it's by no means clear that people will buy your product. Just because you think it's the best idea ever doesn't mean the masses will agree. Developing an app on your own in your spare time versus quitting your job and hiring programmers carry very different levels of risk. Think clearly about the risk, and whether you, with your eyes open to reality, want to take that level of risk.

Carly Ries (06:04):

Okay, this next one, I don't want to be a Debbie Downer because you can get so excited about your idea, but "Have you done the research to make sure your idea actually has legs to stand on?" If your idea does involve significant risk like Joe said, while you may think your product or service is the best idea you've ever had, that doesn't mean everybody will. I'm so sorry to break that to you. Have you run your idea by others? Have you conducted a survey? Do people think it's as great of a concept as you do? By doing this research, you'll have a better idea of where you stand, but also you may actually even get some ideas that make your product or service even better. Be sure to get the information at the beginning so you aren't wasting your time.

Joe Rando (06:44):

Can I jump in on that? You made me think of something that I've seen so many times with people starting businesses. Of course, they get this idea and they think it's the best idea ever, and they're afraid to tell anybody because somebody will steal it. What happens then is that they keep it to themselves. They don't vet it, and they don't get any feedback from the world to let 'em know whether or not it was actually a good idea. I can tell you from the all the gray hair in my head that an idea does not a business make. And nobody is probably going to steal your idea no matter how good it is, because the work between idea and actually having the business is so huge that people just aren't gonna go running off and doing that. So don't worry about that. The least of your worries, is whether somebody's gonna steal it. The most is, is it worth stealing?

Carly Ries (07:41):

That is such a great point. I'm so glad you brought that up.

Joe Rando (07:45):

Okay, last question. "Do I have enough funds to start the business?" You need to figure out how much you need to get the business going. And, if you're quitting your job, how much you need to live while you're doing it. Now take that number and multiply it by two if it's low risk and four or more, if it's a high risk business. Can you handle that amount? Only one thing is sure in starting a business. It will always be harder and take longer than you expect. If you're ready for that, then you're ready for anything.

Carly Ries (08:17):

So true. As I mentioned at the beginning of the episode, this was gonna be a very short one. Joe and I just really wanted to get our thoughts off our chest because we get asked it so much. Hopefully you found these points useful to think about. As always, you can find this episode as well as others at and you can find us anywhere you subscribe to podcasts. See you next time.

Closing (08:42):

You may be going solo in business, but that doesn't mean you're alone. In fact, millions of people are in your shoes running a one-person business and figuring it out as they go. So why not connect with them and learn from each other's successes and failures. At Lifestarr, we're creating a one-person business community where you can go to meet and get advice from other solopreneurs. Be sure to join in on the conversations at