Maybe you shouldn’t be a solopreneur

Find a business partner

I was born in Edmonton, and every once in awhile, I go back for a visit.

When I’m in town, I almost always go for coffee with my buddy Tim. He’s about my age, and he’s just incredible at sales. Over the years, he’s pushed himself to build relationships with big brands. He thinks big, and that’s what I like about him.

I like to meet with Tim because he gets me to think outside my box. In business, we need people like this: folks who are a few steps ahead of us, who push us to get better.

Here’s my situation: I’ve been running this little solopreneur business for two years. I’m doing everything. Whenever I come up with an idea, I design the website, and I write the content. If there’s programming that needs to be done, I’ll try to do it myself.

As I’m meeting Tim, he says: “why are you doing all that work yourself?”

“I’m a solopreneur,” I replied, “we do it all. That’s our mantra.”

Tim replies:

“In my business, I’ve learned its best if I’m not doing everything. I’m good at coming up with the vision. But the only way for me to grow is to partner with (or hire) people who can help me do the work.”

“Trying to do it all” is one of my weaknesses. I’m realizing, that by forcing myself to be a solopreneur, I’ve been slowing myself down.

How many successful businesses were genuinely built by solopreneurs?

Walt needed Roy to build Disney. Jason Fried partnered with DHH to build Basecamp. Macklemore collaborated with Ryan Lewis to produce his breakthrough album, The Heist.

Greatness is almost never a solo endeavor.

Maybe, you (and I) shouldn’t be a solopreneurs.


In January, I co-founded Transistor.fm with my friend Jon Buda.

Jon is a talented full-stack web developer. He can he can do all the backend stuff, but he’s also a pretty good web designer too.

Here’s what surprised me since Jon and I teamed up: I can’t believe how fast we can move together.

It’s like I have a superpower because I don’t have to do all the work myself. If I had to build Transistor on my own, it would take me forever. But now, Jon can focus on his strengths, and I can focus on mine. It feels like I’m running at full-speed in my lane, and I look over, and Jon’s right there with me, running in his.

Another benefit? Entrepreneurship is a hard road. It’s emotional work. It’s nice to have someone to help you bear the load when things get tough.


Here’s a summary of the lessons I’ve learned:

  1. Being a solopreneur doesn’t mean doing 100% of everything yourself. The most successful solo-founders get outside help (contractors, freelancers, partnerships).
  2. Most of us weren’t meant to be solopreneurs. Entrepreneurship is hard; having the right partner helps.
  3. To succeed in business: leverage your strengths and partner with/hire folks who fill out your weak spots.

Cheers,
Justin Jackson
@mijustin

Note: I decided to write about this because this Youtube video got a lot of traction.

Notes from Justin Jackson

Startup stories, lessons, and tips.
Sent on Saturday mornings.
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Published on June 22, 2018