Starting your own business can feel like standing at the base of a mountain, looking up at the peak, and wondering how you'll ever make it to the top.
But here's the good news:
You don't need a groundbreaking idea or a massive team of employees behind you to be a successful solopreneur.
Solopreneurship is about harnessing your unique strengths, understanding the market, and taking that first step with conviction.
In this article, I'll share some examples of lucrative one-person business ideas. Then, I'll walk you through how to start a one-person business in 10 steps. By the end, you'll have the knowledge and confidence to turn your passion into profit.
Where most solopreneurs miss the mark (and how not to)
Too many founders are pouring every waking hour into their businesses, forgetting the very reason they started.
Don't make the same mistake.
The greatest benefit of starting a one-person business is freedom — freedom to choose your work schedule, pick your own projects, and most importantly, enjoy life outside of work.
But the irony? Many dive headfirst into entrepreneurship, only to find themselves shackled by their own ambitions, working longer hours than they ever did in a 9-to-5.
I've walked that tightrope, teetering between passion and burnout. Trust me — it's a balancing act that can leave you exhausted if you're not careful.
While the initial stages of your business might demand more from you, it's crucial to remember:
You're not just building a business. You're building a life you love.
One-person business examples
There's no one-size-fits-all approach to starting a one-person business. Whether you're a creative, a strategist, or a health enthusiast, there's a niche waiting for you to dominate. The key is to align your skills and passions with a market need.
To give you a clearer picture of this, let's explore some solid small-business ideas:
As a freelancer, you're not tied to a desk or a 9-5 schedule. You choose your clients, set your rates, and manage your working hours.
My freelancing friends all rave about one big perk: The ability to work from anywhere. Coffee shop, home office, beach — your choice.
With a laptop and a solid work ethic, freelancing isn't just a career. It's a lifestyle that offers both freedom and the potential to make 6+ figures a year working with a handful of clients. Since you don't have to pay for overheads, inventory, or permits, you can become profitable pretty quickly.
Content agency owner
Running a content agency means you're at the helm of storytelling. You're not just producing content. You're strategizing, coordinating, and ensuring brands resonate with their audiences.
The biggest upside to being a content agency owner is you can scale fast. But keep it simple in the beginning; maybe even handle everything yourself. As demand grows, build a small team of freelance writers, designers, consultants, and other creatives to help deliver unparalleled content.
With sharp business acumen and a knack for understanding market needs, owning a content agency can be a rewarding venture that grows as fast as you're willing to push it.
A health coach bridges the gap between knowing what's healthy and actually living it. With expertise in nutrition, fitness, and behavior change, they craft tailored strategies for people seeking healthier lifestyles.
The role involves:
- One-on-one consultations
- Creating actionable meal and fitness plans
- Providing consistent support and accountability
As the wellness industry continues to grow, so does the demand for personalized guidance. By establishing a robust online presence and offering varied packages, you can build a thriving health coaching business that impacts lives.
Subscription box seller
Not all one-person businesses revolve around services.
As a subscription box seller, you curate and deliver niche tangible products to subscribers on a regular basis. Whether it's gourmet foods, beauty products, or hand-picked outfits, the key is in the anticipation element. Customers eagerly await their monthly or quarterly boxes, making this a model with promising recurring revenue potential.
How to start a one-person business
- Identify your strengths and passions
- Build an audience
- Find a problem to solve
- Make a roadmap to your solution
- Devise a business plan
- Choose the right business structure
- Determine how you'll deliver the solution
- Attract customers with content marketing
- Ask for testimonials
- Funnel buyers over to your platforms
Step #1: Identify your strengths and passions
Starting a one-person business isn't just about spotting a market gap. It's about aligning that gap with your strengths and passions.
Because when the going gets tough — and trust me, it will — it's your genuine interest and expertise that'll keep you going.
So, take a moment and reflect:
What tasks or projects do you dive into and lose track of time? These are your passions. Now, pair that with what people often commend you for or seek your advice on. That's your skill.
Let's say you've always been the go-to person among your friends for travel tips, and you love planning trips. There's a potential business waiting for you in personalized travel itineraries.
Or suppose you're into cars and have a knack for writing. Why not become an automotive content writer? Dive deep into reviews, comparisons, or even the history of classic cars.
The options are endless. But remember, the most successful one-person businesses often stem from a personal passion or interest. Making money is important, but you also want to make a living doing what you love and are great at.
Step #2: Build an audience
If you're not on social media these days, you're invisible. It's the modern-day marketplace, the town square, and the networking event all rolled into one. And for a one-person business? It's your stage.
Having a killer product or service is one thing. But if no one knows about it, you're shouting into the void. That's why you need a loyal social media following. On social media, you're not just posting; you're also connecting with prospects and building a community that believes in what you offer.
If you're offering a service or digital product, LinkedIn is an absolute goldmine (speaking from experience). It's teeming with professionals actively seeking independent contractors with specific expertise, from content creation to consultancy. Position yourself as an expert, share valuable insights, and engage with potential clients. Before you know it, you'll be the go-to person in your niche.
Selling a tangible product? Platforms like Instagram, Facebook, or TikTok may be better. These platforms are visual, dynamic, and have a massive user base hungry for the next big thing. Showcase your products, tell your brand story, and engage with your audience in real time. Don't just sell — create a memorable shopping experience.
Step #3: Find a problem to solve
Here's where many solo business owners trip up: They try to be everything to everyone.
But specificity is your best friend. You want to zero in on a singular, pressing problem your target audience faces. Then, solve it better than anyone else.
Perform some market research. Engage with your audience on social media, run polls, or host Q&A sessions. Their feedback is the raw material you'll refine into a stellar product or service.
TL;DR: Find that gap — that one thing your audience desperately needs — then fill it with unmatched value.
Step #4: Make a roadmap to your solution
Jumping headfirst into a business without a plan is like setting out on a cross-country road trip without a map. Sure, you might stumble upon some scenic routes, but you'll likely end up lost.
For your future one-person business, clarity isn't just power — it's your lifeline.
Once you've identified the problem you're solving, it's time to chart out the 'how.' This roadmap isn't just for you; it's a promise to your potential customers that you know what you're doing.
Start by breaking down the problem:
What are its root causes?
What have others tried, and where have they fallen short?
Next, outline your solution step-by-step. Whether it's a product that addresses a specific need or a service that fills a gap, detail the process or the features that make your offering stand out.
For example, if you're offering a digital marketing service to small businesses struggling with online visibility, your roadmap might:
- Start with a thorough market analysis
- Follow with content strategy
- Culminate in targeted ad campaigns
As you create your roadmap, share it with your audience. Let them see not just the 'what' but also the 'how.' This will help you showcase your expertise and position you as the trusted solution in your industry.
Step #5: Devise a business plan
Dreaming big is great. But in the business world, you also need a realistic plan to realize those dreams. Your business development strategy may change as you learn more about your market, your audience, and yourself.
But let's get that initial blueprint together:
First up, business finances. What are your projected earnings? Break down your revenue streams, whether it's direct sales, affiliate marketing, or something else. Factor in your expenses, such as software subscriptions and potential outsourcing costs. This will give you a clear picture of your profit margins and where you can optimize.
Next, the launch. What steps do you need to take to hit the ground running? Maybe it's building a website, setting up an eCommerce platform, or creating a strong social media strategy. List them out, prioritize, and set deadlines for yourself.
Lastly, remember that not everything will work out 100% as expected. Create a rough backup plan so you're not caught off guard.
Pro tip: Running a solo business doesn't have to mean figuring everything out on your own. Identify the people and/or resources that can help you fast-track your success. Maybe it's a mentor who's been there, done that — or a book written by a reputable author in your industry that shares helpful insights. Leverage others' expertise to avoid common pitfalls.
Step #6: Choose the right business structure
Now, let's talk about the less glamorous but crucial part of starting a business: the legal structure. It might sound tedious, but getting this right from the get-go can save you a ton of headaches (and money) down the line.
This is the simplest form. If you're going solo and don't want to get tied up in paperwork, this might be your go-to. You and your business are essentially one. The upside? Easy to set up. The downside? If your business faces any liabilities, your personal assets are on the line.
Limited liability company (LLC)
Think of an LLC as the middle ground between a sole proprietorship and a corporation. It offers the liability protection of a corporation but with the tax benefits and flexibility of a sole proprietorship. This is a solid choice if you're looking to scale or if there's any risk involved with your business.
This is the big league. You and your business are separate entities, so it provides the most protection against personal liabilities. But it's also the most complex to set up and has double taxation (corporation tax and income tax).
Step #7: Determine how you'll deliver the solution
So, you've identified the problem you're solving and made a roadmap to solve it.
Now comes the pivotal question: How will you deliver that solution to your audience?
The format you choose can make or break the user experience and in turn, the success of your business.
This is all about immediacy. If your audience needs quick solutions, like graphic design tweaks or a dog-walker, on-demand can be a game-changer. It's real-time, efficient, and caters to the 'now' culture.
If your strength lies in strategy and personalized advice, this is your arena. Whether it's business consulting, health coaching, or tech guidance, one-on-one calls allow for deep dives and tailored solutions.
Think eBooks, online courses, or software tools. I love selling digital goods because it's highly scalable. For example, I create a course once and can sell it indefinitely without additional costs per unit.
If you're in the realm of physical goods, whether it's a subscription box, a tech gadget, clothing, etc. — this is where you play. You can sell tangible products on eBay, Etsy, or Amazon, to name a few. Remember, logistics and quality control become paramount here.
My two cents:
Depth > breadth
Start with one. Master it. Understand the ins and outs, refine the process, and ensure you're delivering the best value you can. Once you've got that down to a science, then consider branching out.
Diversifying can be powerful (in fact, I swear by it), but spreading yourself too thin right out of the gate can both dilute your brand and overwhelm you.
Step #8: Attract customers with content marketing
Attention is the name of the game in this digital age.
But how do you capture it?
Not with flashy ads or pushy sales tactics but with genuine, valuable content. It's the magnet that draws potential buyers to your brand and keeps them coming back for more.
To start, give your knowledge away for free. Share insights, tips, and expertise that resonate with your target market. The more they learn from you, the more they see you as an authority in your niche.
Have fun with it and try publishing:
- Blog posts
- Text-only posts
The goal of content marketing isn't immediate conversion. It's a long game where you build relationships. When people see the consistent value you offer with no strings attached, they'll naturally wonder, "If this is what they give away, what incredible value lies in their paid offerings?"
TL;DR: Content marketing isn't a sales pitch. It's a value proposition. Show up, offer insights, and position yourself not just as a seller but as a trusted guide in your industry.
Step #9: Ask for testimonials
In business, there's one voice that carries more weight than any marketing campaign: the voice of your customers. Their stories, experiences, and feedback are real-world endorsements that prospective clients trust.
Every satisfied customer is a potential ambassador for your brand. So, after a successful transaction or service delivery, don't just move on. Engage. Ask them about their experience. This not only helps you refine your offerings but also opens the door to something even more valuable — their testimonial.
When a customer sings your praises, seize the moment. Politely ask if they'd be open to sharing their positive feedback in a text or video testimonial. These reviews, whether showcased on your website, online store, or social platforms, act as trust signals. They tell prospective customers, "Hey, others have been here, tried this, and loved it."
Step #10: Funnel buyers over to your platforms
Building your empire solely on someone else's land is risky business. Social media is a fantastic starting point, but your ultimate goal should be to bring your audience home — to platforms where your business can thrive, come rain or shine.
That's why the smart move, once you've got some traction, is to start funneling your audience to territories that belong to you: your website and email list.
Your website is your digital storefront. It's where you set the rules, control the narrative, and offer a deeper dive into your brand and offerings. It's also where you can capture leads, turning casual visitors into potential long-term customers.
Your email list is your safety net — a direct line to your audience, unaffected by algorithm changes or platform policies. More than that, it's personal. It's a space where you can nurture relationships, offer exclusive deals, and keep your audience invested in your brand's journey.
Parting advice for starting a solo business
Going on a solo business venture can feel like a bold move. But with creativity, patience, and the right strategies, it's incredibly worthwhile.
Find that sweet spot between what you love and what you're good at. Build meaningful connections on social media, but aim to bring them to platforms you control. And never underestimate the power of authentic content and social proof.
Here's a final piece of advice to send you off with:
Thriving solo entrepreneurs aren't flying by the seat of their pants. They have tried-and-true systems in place.
If you're ready to create an effective content marketing system for your business, check out my course, The Content Operating System. It's packed with strategies to write stellar content quickly, without burning out.
Looking for further reading on solopreneurship? You may find these helpful:
Thanks for joining me on this deep dive into building a single-person business.
Here's to your success!