Are you a solopreneur, entrepreneur, self-employed, or small business owner? The list is getting longer every day. But what’s the difference, where do you fit, and does it really matter?


“A solopreneur is a one-person show. They’re both the founder and creator, and the sole person responsible for delivery of products and services. Solopreneurs might hire outside contractors or freelancers, but at the end of the day, the buck stops with them.”

The primary difference between an entrepreneur and a solopreneur is that while they both start out solo – the entrepreneur is looking to build a company, bringing others on board. On the other hand, the solopreneur goes into business intending to remain solo.

As a result, they appear to be more intentional about their vision for business than a traditionally self-employed person who may lack a clear plan to either build their business or remain solo and diversify.

The difficulty for solopreneurs is that they don’t come ready-made.

Most aspiring solopreneurs start as employees. Then, like thousands of others, they grow tired of producing for their employer and want to build something of their own.

But even with a vision for what they want to accomplish, they must journey from self-employment to developing a business owner mindset. It’s a necessary journey, and it takes time.


A self-employed person effectively sells their time as a freelancer or sub-contractor. A solopreneur has moved past time being a commodity to building and selling a product or service.

COVID-19 proved to be the spur onwards and upwards that many didn’t know they needed. As well as the work-from-home revolution, the pandemic sparked a wave of solopreneurs to take the plunge, leave the nine-to-five, and create something new.

How are they different to self-employed freelancers?

There’s a subtle but definite difference between self-employed freelancers and true solopreneurs. Freelancers focus primarily on finding work and providing for themselves using their skills and expertise. They aren’t necessarily creating a life for themselves based on a clear vision for the future.

Successful solopreneurs usually plan and execute a vision for multiple income streams. They plan to do it alone because it suits their lifestyle choices.

Who are these unicorns?

Solopreneurs span the length and breadth of the business sphere. The list includes business coaches, IT specialists, and underwear designers. According to the Solopreneur Institute, the top solopreneurs are Sara Blakely of Spanx, Author Erika Leonard, Pierre Omidyar of eBay, and Business Coach Marie Forleo.

While apparently having little in common, apart from being named as solopreneurs, they each own the space they inhabit. They know who they are and what they have to offer, and they do it better. They believe in themselves, have a great product that addresses an identified need and are great at telling their story.

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” ​

Developing a business owner mindset.

Most, if not all, have stories of failure that precede their ultimate success. Yet, they’ve not let failed attempts halt their progress; instead, they’ve used it to help them develop a business owner mindset.


“Business owners think about creating value and building leverage to succeed commercially. Fundamentally, moving from being self-employed to being a business owner is about mindset and time allocation.”​

So where do you sit in the mix, and in the end, does it really matter?

I think the most important thing you can do is understand where you are in the journey of business ownership and do just that—own it. If you know where you are, it’s much easier to take the next step in the journey.


Andee Sellman

Andee Sellman is the Founder of Rest & Rhythm and is dedicated to helping people discover their unique rest and rhythm personally and professionally.

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