At last count, there were over 30,000 million-dollar, home-based businesses run by solo entrepreneurs. So, building one may not be easy, but it obviously isn’t impossible.
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According to the same survey, there were over 200,000 entrepreneurs with sales between $500,000 and $999,999, and over 400,000 entrepreneurs who were raking in $250,000 to $499,999 a year.
For anyone wanting to get into a home-based business, versus one on-site with employees, the fundamentals remain the same — the “fundamentals” meaning those that influence success.
So, if you’re cut out for being a solopreneur, you too can take home a fat check while being your own boss; you don’t necessarily need to run a large company for that.
Here are five ways to leverage your skills or current situation to build your own home-based business by highlighting opportunities that have launched businesses average people turned into million-dollar success stories.
1. Conceive a product based on your own problems in daily life.
Katherine Krug suffered severe back pain while working long hours at her desk. Unable to find a good solution, she created a prototype strap (with help from industrial designers) to provide back support. She then put her prototype up on Kickstarter and raised $1.2 million from supporters. She now runs this million-dollar company as a solopreneur from her home in San Francisco.
Kelly Lester, a stay-at-home mom, similarly built a business out of a common problem she faced. Lester wanted a quick and easy way to pack lunches for her three kids. What she came up with dovetailed with a separate fascination she had with “bento” boxes, a Japanese style of food packing. This happy combination translated into what eventually grew into Lester’s $ 1 million-plus lunchbox business.
You too may have a pressing problem in your daily life. So, keep your eyes and ears open because inspiration could strike at any moment. Most successful businesses, even big ones, were established because of personal problems their founders faced.
2. Understand a niche and set up your own online store.
Do you have insights into what people are looking for in a certain product category? If the answer is yes, consider the business built by under-30 solopreneur Allen Walton.
Having worked at a local security-camera store, Walton knew what customers were looking for when it came to security products. He’d also gained insights into picking the right inventory. Armed with that and $1,000 in savings, he built his own spy camera shop on the web.
Having knowledge about your niche, where you understand what customers are looking for, can help you start your own online storefront. You can either set up your own website using the WordPress Woocommerce tool, if you have basic technical knowledge. Or you can get started by outsourcing the work to a freelance developer.
No surprise, then, that according to U.S. Census data, one of the largest business categories of business in which successful entrepreneurs work is the retail segment.
3. Provide scale to your skills through technology.
Already making use of your skills in the physical world? By leveraging technology, you can reach a far bigger audience than you can by physically reaching out — a scenario limited by the time you have and the number of people you can reach.
Dan Mezheritsky, a personal trainer, scaled his own venture by utilizing his skill sets of in-home personal training and business franchising. He built a customized software to automate many functions.
Similarly, mobile phones helped Rachel Charlupski scale her babysitting business into a network that now includes over 1,500 babysitters. When she started out, Charlupski was a solo babysitter in Phoenix offering services to hotels guests to make extra money.
In the product space, Alicia Shaffer expanded her headband-making business — from Livermore, California, where she sold her crafts to a small women’s clothing boutique — to millions of online customers. She launched an Etsy store and a standalone online store, which together brought in close to a million dollars.
The message here is that if you have existing skills in any industry, technology can help you scale to a worldwide audience scattered across multiple countries.
4. Create an online course.
Do you have a skill you can teach other people? That could be your road map to running your very own online course academy. A plethora of options is available to host your courses. If you’re technically inclined, you could build one on WordPress using the Sensei theme for creating a learning management system. Or, you could use existing platforms, such as Fedora or Udemy.
John Azzi and Eliot Arntz, for example, earned over $1 million in 2014 for their course on iOS 8 app development and the new Swift programming language. Similarly, Rob Percival, a former high school math teacher from Cambridge, England, found similar success with his four courses on various programming topics. Percival netted over $1 million in under a year.
So, what kind of course could you create? Courses with well-defined outcomes tend to do well — meaning courses that help audiences earn more or do their jobs better.
5. Publish an eBook.
Gone are those days when you couldn’t publish a book without beseeching a reputed publisher to promote your work. Today, you can publish your own book, with minimal expenses, then distribute it to over a million readers.
Marketplaces such as Amazon Kindle, Goodreads, Kobo Writing Life, etc., offer people platforms to host ebooks, as well as communities of readers to market to.
Amanda Hocking, the poster girl of self-publishing, has published several fiction titles on Amazon and earned over $2 million from them. Before going the online route, she was rejected by every literary agent she approached.
Need more information? Guy Kawasaki, author of 13 books, including bestsellers, has written a book on how to self-publish an ebook, offering tactical and practical inspiration. Kawasaki’s book also includes a ready-to-use template.
Whatever your modus operandi, simple passion isn’t enough to get you going. You need to work at it, day after day, and constantly improve and progress.
At the end of it all, you won’t need to worry if you’ve fail once — or failed a dozen times. (And you probably will.) You only have to get it right once.