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The Formula to Transition from Employee to Solopreneur (To Access a Better Life)

by | Jul 17, 2023 | Making Money Online, Money

Solopreneurs have it easy because they don’t have to manage adult babies.

That’s my style of business. One where I call the shots and don’t have to waste my day in meetings coordinating humans that should already know what they need to do.

Some of us just know deep down that we don’t want a job forever.

It’s hard to explain. There’s no scientific research from Einstein. Ya just know. Boss or no boss. Orders or no orders.

I prefer to decide what to do at work. I’ve got enough business knowledge without having a big, slow corporation to slow me down.

And suffocate my creativity to death.

If you feel like I did and know a job is not your forever-life, then here’s the simple formula I used to slowly transition from job to solopreneur.

Forget stupid niches

In 2014 I fell in love with a girl named niche.

I scoured the globe looking for her. I eventually chose the niche of success. The decision did my head in. One day I gave up on the topic of success and quit niches forever.

You know what I realized?

Niches are forced. They’re chosen because they’re popular or make you look cool. But that’s the dumbest way to start a side business.

Instead of a niche, choose an obsession. Not something you’re “interested” in. No. Something that you’re obsessed with. Something you google late at night when you should be in bed. Something you look at on your phone while in work meetings.

That’s where the niche hides.

The reason this path works the best is because it’s effortless. You don’t need habits or discipline or Elon Musk morning routines. You just need to do what you already do.

For me, I loved writing, self-improvement, and finance. No one has to tell me to search for it or discover this niche.

I do it 24/7 — even while on the toilet.

See what I mean? Your obsession leads to your personal monopoly. It’s the foundation of solopreneurship and any online business.

Become a tiny media empire

Every side business slots nicely into an industry.

An industry is just a fancy word for topic. Once that topic(s) is known then you need to start building a community — not audience.

I hate audiences because they’re one-way. They’re often selfish. And they’re full of ego and lead to some silly influencer life. Influencers don’t operate businesses. They’re playboy pin-ups that get money thrown at them for ads.

Advertising is a sh*t business.

A real business is built on relationships. And they form in communities where both you and the people who enjoy your content can hang out and have a few beers together on a Zoom.

The fastest way to build a tiny media empire is with social media.

As I like to say, these platforms are there to use and abuse. Pick one that you’re already happy to show up on and post quality content — videos, pictures, illustrations, words, audio.

Platform options include:

  • Threads
  • Instaglam
  • Sub$stack
  • LinkedIn
  • Elon’s birdy app

They’re the main ones. Everything else is a startup experiment that could go nowhere and never get traction. You want in-built discovery so you can start to build your tribe.

Tap into hidden distribution

Up until here the model is pretty obvious.

This step in the formula is one many people never do. It’s not common knowledge and it’s hard work.

Content is useless without distribution.

You want to fire up the distribution by posting content with others who have similar goals. This requires you to be a consumer.

You have to consume the work of other people and pay attention. Then when you find creators you like, you build a relationship with them in the DMs. It should feel natural, not like my friend Vijay’s arranged marriage.

It’s worth noting that you don’t need 1000s of these relationships. You need about 10–20 good ones. These people also become a mini-mastermind.

As well as sharing each other’s content… you’re also going to share what you’re working on and figure out business models based on their experiments as well as your own.

A guy who’s in my inner circle is a great example. Last week he showed me how the #1 way tweets get extra views is by placing a video inside of a string of tweets.

This increases the watch time. And Elon’s #1 metric to boost content is watch time. Wow just wow.

Dumb old me would never have figured that out.

This is the power of a mastermind of people with similar goals to you. It helps you make the transition away from employee servitude, faster.

Create a portfolio of small bets

Another step I rarely see mentioned.

Once the media side of your solo enterprise is off to the races, there’s a point where you need to, you know, make some money.

Otherwise all you are is a starving artist. And we all gotta eat, dontcha know. The theory here is simple. To make money you need to set up a bunch of experiments that each become a small bet.

Then you invest time into each small bet to see which one can make you money. Maybe you decide to:

  • Write to earn royalties (like I did in the early days)
  • Self-publish a short book
  • Sell merchandise via eCommerce
  • Offer paid consulting
  • Run a membership community
  • Launch a paid newsletter
  • Sell arts and crafts on Etsy
  • Consult to businesses
  • Become a freelancer and create content for others
  • Set up an education business related to your content

The options are endless. The point here is you need to find your personal income streams. Ones you like that are in line with your character.

For example, I could never run a solo business doing public speaking at corporate dinners for $20K a pop.

I get too nervous on stage. It’s not my idea of fun.

I only know that because I ran an experiment with this income stream and measured the results.

Build simple systems from the start

Solopreneurship is just “business” with a sexy label.

A business is nothing without systems. Systems are what let you outsource work later on.

They’re also what allows you to sell a business you’ve built in years to come. Without systems you don’t have a business. All you have is a solo job with no salary and a rocky-as-hell annual income.

I use Notion for all my business systems. Everything I do has a darn checklist because I have goldfish memory worse than the fish named Dory from the Finding Nemo movie.

Reminder: document everything.

Even better, film Loom videos for every tiny process you follow. That way if someone else needs to know, you can just point them to a video saved inside of your Notion database.

Another reminder: label everything clearly.

Otherwise it’s damn hard to find stuff again and it makes solopreneurship much harder later on. Trust me. Treat your systems like a playbook. I have a playbook for my online business that’s taken 9 years to create.

Someone told me the other day that they’d pay 7-figures to get my playbook. No joke. That’s when it hit me: these systems are blueprints for other creators. They’re possibly even their own income stream. WOW.

Systems over randomness.

Go part-time at work

If you’ve got the media part cranking and the online income streams are rolling in, then the transition is a simple equation.

Online income streams must exceed your salary.

Until then you don’t quit your job. You work on the side business after hours or on weekends. Or you cheat on your boss and do it at work too.

As your online income streams get bigger, I recommend you go from full-time to part-time at your job. 5 days to 4. Then 4 days to 3. Then 3 days to, likely, 0 days. That’s what I did.

A slow transition is a smooth transition.

Because the solopreneurship ride is bumpy as f*ck. Last thing ya wanna do is just jump off the cliff and quit your job, then land on the ground seconds later without a parachute.

That’s how you bleed out and become tomato sauce.

Do it quietly

I made one big mistake that I shouldn’t share. But I will.

When my side business began to take off, I pulled out the mega-phone at work and started screaming “I’m Tim Denning and I make $70K a month from a side business.”

Don’t do this. Don’t brag. Don’t chase status. Don’t post Stripe screenshots.

Just calm your freaking farm. Don’t get ahead of yourself. There’s a long road from 5 figures to 6 and then to 7 or 8 figures.

The goal here isn’t to join the “I quit my job, I’m too for school,” school. No. The goal of solopreneurship is freedom.

Free from a job.

Free from meetings.

Free from a fixed salary.

Free from the fear of layoffs.

Free from being told what to do.

Free from work you don’t care about.

Free from the lack of creativity/imagination a job offers.

A quiet solopreneur is a smart one. They’re the person most likely to succeed. Even though I was a loud mouth, I got lucky. Move in silence and work on your side business goal in the dark hours.

Tell no one. Not your family, boss, friends. No one.

Disappear for 6 months if you have to. Go dark. No social events. No cocktails. No “how ya been” text messages. Just quiet work done in solitude that’ll set you up for life.

This is the formula that will help you join millions of people like me who’ve gone from being employees to solopreneurship and beyond.

It’s a gateway to a better life of freedom. Try it.

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