One-person businesses aren’t what you think they are.
They can change your life but they can be deceptive too. As someone who’s run a one-person business for 9 years straight, let me explain.
The hater email that tried to ruin the day
“You’re a liar. You have more than one person in your online business. How dare you!”
I could feel the outrage all the way from the other side of the world while reading the email in my desert shack in Australia.
Technically they were right. I have an occasional website person who helps. There’s a graphic designer who does images. There’s my co-teacher friend Todd who I partner with. There are guest teachers too.
There are probably about ten different people who help my one-person business off and on. So do I run a one-person business? Yes, yes I do, sir.
It’s just freaking labels
The one-person business isn’t a lie.
It’s simple labels at work. Some people get so hung up on labels that they destroy their potential and become pessimistic skeptics.
A one-person business is never one person on their own. There’s always help. The difference is in how the business operates.
One-person businesses don’t have employees.
There’s no employee contract, minimum number of hours, promises of future work, ping-pong tables, suits, resumes, etc.
A one-person business is built on a flex model. Often, one-person businesses like mine share people with other one-person businesses. When I have a good Zapier automation person, I share them with others because I don’t need this expert full-time.
And when I need help other one-person businesses give me names. This type of business is more of a community model and that’s why I love it.
It’s performance-based too.
You don’t just have people on the payroll getting paid even if they’re not needed. Honestly, the one-person business model is the future of many businesses. It’s way more efficient and everybody wins.
The key difference is if you’re a freelancer that works with a one-person business owner you’re free too. Instead of an employer with one customer that pays you, well, you can sleep with as many customers and get paid more.
You can constantly flex your rates based on whatever the hell you want. As long as you keep upgrading your skills and adding value you will eat. And you’ll go from McDonald’s cheeseburgers to prime steak at $100 a plate.
Don’t get fooled by fools and their fact-checker labels.
Freedom over managing employees
Managing adult babies is hard work.
They want to argue and fight for their local social justice cause. The one-person business does away with all that.
Workers manage themselves because their pay and future aren’t guaranteed.
They have to focus and add value or they’ll fail (by design). But when they succeed they keep a lot more of the upside which allows them to work fewer hours.
Winner winner chicken dinner. And one-person business owners don’t have to do so much wasteful management so we can spend our time on more urgent matters.
Think of it as automated leadership made possible by software and incentives.
You should get help otherwise you’ll drown in work
One-person businesses often start as side hustles.
That’s fine. The problem is if you feel shame for breaking the definition of a one-person business by hiring help, you’ll drown in work.
You’ll have to do both your 9–5 job and your one-person business with not enough time. That’s when you’ll burn out and your life will blow up like a nuke.
So don’t let haters shame you with a label. Hire help like this…
Write down the tasks holding you back
List everything. Make Loom videos of every little admin thing you do. Be honest and don’t try to hide anything or think “this take must be done by me.” No it doesn’t, trust me.
Get a reference from a trusted community
Find a community of one-person businesses and ask for references.
“Anyone else found a kickass web developer I can use? Send me names and past work. Cheers.”
Don’t do free trials
Pay the chosen person for a 2–4 week trial.
Free makes freelancers deprioritize your work and not feel motivated. Pay them but let them know there’s a deadline to wow you.
No set hours
Some freelancers will want minimum spends or a guaranteed number of hours. Don’t give them that right away.
Right now you need to see if they’re a fit and can help you. Once they prove that there’s then room to flex and create a partnership full of win-wins.
Take care of them
Once the trial ends craft a plan that rewards them going forward for performance. Typically a pay rate for work plus generous KPI bonuses works best. Give them percentage splits or other incentives if you see fit.
If you treat them well, your one-person business will thrive because you’ll have time back to work on the stuff that makes actual cash.
The one-person business model is only a lie if you let skeptics and haters infect your brain. Don’t let them.
Build a one-person online business after hours and get help from freelancers to buy your time back. Once your business income outgrows your job’s income, quit. Then enjoy life.
Starting a one-person business is the best decision you’ll ever make.