Why I’ve stayed a company of one
Frequently I’m asked what my next step is, and when and how I’ll grow my business beyond solopreneurship. The answer: maybe never.
I think this question ladders up to a broader cultural mentality that growth and expansion are the expected evolution of any business. Growth isn’t inherently bad or wrong, but this default mindset contributes to a misconception that the natural course of action is to increase people, projects and profits.
Now, this certainly isn’t an anti-capitalist manifesto, but I think that growth as an assumed next step is worth questioning. Does growth create opportunity? Absolutely. But is it the best and only way to run a business? Absolutely not.
Here’s why I intentionally choose solopreneurship year after year:
I get to do the work I love
My bread and butter is facilitating workshops and helping my clients solve hard problems that are costing them time and headspace. Running a larger company would take me out of the “doing” and further into the day-to-day operational tasks required to manage a business. By remaining a company of one, the managerial part of the job stays reasonable, which means I get to spend most of my time doing transformative work and less time bogged down on internal issues.
The freedom to say “no”
There’s something really powerful about being able to say “yes” to the projects you love, and “no” to the opportunities that aren’t a fit. Since I’m solely responsible for my income, there’s less pressure to take on business just to maintain a bottom line beyond my own. That means I have more control over who I work with and the kinds of people I want to help, which directly impacts my job satisfaction.
It minimizes complexity
Growing a company means adding work, which means adding people, which means supporting more salaries, which means adding more work, and so on. When a business becomes an entity unto itself, it needs to be fueled constantly. I don’t mind networking and doing business development when I know I don’t have an entire staff relying on new projects to stay employed. By skipping this layer of complexity, I can stay focused on my individual responsibilities, deadlines and performance.
Flexibility is a plus
Are you most productive early in the morning, or late at night after the kids go to sleep? Maybe you thrive midday, or need breaks to walk your dog a few times daily. When you set your own schedule, you decide where and when the work gets done. For me, this means working when I’m most productive rather than conforming to traditional office hours. Having this level of work/life balance allows me to embrace and love my career while also managing other life commitments, responsibilities, unplanned surprises, and beyond.
In sum: growth for the sake of growth should be questioned. If that’s what you truly want for yourself and are prepared to embrace the challenges that sit alongside the opportunities, that’s great! And if you really love staying entrenched in the work without the complexity and responsibility that comes along with employing people, then intentionally choosing not to grow is also an excellent option. The last thing anyone wants is for their business to feel like a runaway train, so ask yourself the hard questions and challenge your ideas around growth to make sure you choose what’s sustainable and enjoyable for you.
Are you curious about making the leap to solopreneurship? I left an awesome job to do just that. Here’s what I learned, and the pros and not-pros you should consider before making your decision.
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