Solopreneur: Do You Have a “Real” Business?

Just because you're solopreneur doesn't mean you don't have a “real” business.

I'm on the email list for Social Triggers, Derek Halpern's site. In one of the emails he sent, he told a story about attending a meeting with some magazine honchoes who wanted help with social media marketing.

One of these guys started out by telling them that they didn't have “real” businesses, since they weren't going to go on to make billions in revenue and employ more than ?1,000 people.


Halpern took offense at this, since he doesn't think that you need to have hundreds of employees and millions in revenue to be a “real” business. On top of that, he pointed out in his email that many of those running business considered “lifestyle” businesses don't have exit plans — because they aren't usually building their businesses with the intent to sell them.

When you think about the way business has changed in the last few years, it's understandable that this Big Important Guy doesn't “get” it. The business model of the solopreneur is a completely different animal than the old-school business model that our parents grew up with.

Do You View Your Home Business as a “Real Business”?

I even sympathize with the guy in Halpern's story. For the longest time, I didn't really think of what I do as a business. After all, I sit at home in my pajamas, writing things on blogs. And blogs don't even count as “real” Writing. How can I have a “real” business?

It didn't even occur to me to consider this a business until we went to buy a house. We had to base our purchase on my income, since my husband was still in school. The bank required us to go through an income audit, since my income is self-employed. ?The accountant we hired looked over everything, talked to me about what I did, and said:

You have a great little business going here. Have you thought about organizing into an LLC or S-Corp.?

This was my “a-ha” moment. I realized that I have a home business, and that it is a “real” business. I provide a service to others, and they pay me for it. It doesn't matter that the entire brand is built around me. It doesn't matter that the business disappears when I stop writing for others or I die. (I'll probably die first, honestly.)

It's still a Real Business.

Real Business

Convincing Others You Have a Real Business

After acknowledging my status as a business owner, I then had the joy of trying to convince others that I run a business. When most people think of a home business, they think of making crafts in the basement and selling them, or, at the very least, being involved in some sort of ecommerce store that involves an inventory somewhere.

No one really thinks of professional blogging as a business. In fact, I still sometimes get polite smiles when people ask me what I do, and my?very old school relatives ask me, with patronizing grins, if I'm “still doing that online writing.”

It's getting easier to convince others that I have a business (although I'm not sure why I need to convince anyone of anything; it is what it is), though, thanks to the fact that just about anyone can start a home business these days, thanks to technology. But sometimes I still feel a little uncomfortable terming my home business as a real business, and I feel a little awkward making the case for my business.

The Solopreneur Lifestyle

One of the most important things to realize about your Totally Real home business, though, is that being a solopreneur is a lifestyle. It's a new way of making money. That's probably why so many people in older generations (and I'm speaking of mindset, not actual age) have a hard time wrapping their heads around the whole thing.

A solopreneur isn't out to build a monolithic company. Most solopreneurs are just looking for ways to make extra money on the side, and perhaps even get to the point where it's possible to quit the day job. The solopreneur lifestyle is about freedom and flexibility.

My relatives my think I'm just messing around, and that this isn't a viable career choice, but that's ok. For the most part, I work when I want, wherever I want, in whatever clothes I feel like wearing. And I put food on the table and get to go on trips while I'm doing it.

It's about making money so that you can design the lifestyle you want. So it doesn't matter if someone in a suit, working behind a desk in a big corner office thinks that your blog or your course or your ecommerce storefront isn't a “real” business.

Technology provides a way to take the home business to another level, allowing you the chance to meet your individual financial and life goals on your own terms. And that's about as “real” as it gets.

7 thoughts on “Solopreneur: Do You Have a “Real” Business?”

  1. I’m having a hard time feeling like I have a “real” business. Maybe when the day comes that I don’t live in terror of losing a client I’ll feel better.

    Who am I kidding. It’s about as likely as ever feeling like I’ve reached “adulthood.”

    1. That is a worry that many solopreneurs who provide services face. Sometimes I still worry about it, even though I’m usually ok even when I lose a client or two.

  2. John S @ Frugal Rules

    This post is spot on Miranda! We had family stay with us recently and it was a real eye opener for them on a number of levels. They thought that we just sit around and “play on our computers” all day and they were surprised to see the work we actually do. I’m so thankful that we live in an age where having a business from home is the option it is because we love it. 🙂

    1. It really is great that technology gives us the chance to create our own lifestyles — even if the people we know don’t really think we do “real” work.

  3. Attila Kov?cs (TheSolopreneurM)

    Awesome as always. Thank you Miranda.
    I think it is almost impossible to explain it to those supercilious relatives or “friends”.

    It is very similar to the case when your new way of training and disciplining you child leads to opposition or even harsh judgement from the grandparents.

    In both situations you are the defendant since they have thousands of examples to back up their opinion. But you are right and should stand up for your values.

    This is way I think your article is so important
    to those who are contemplating choosing the solopreneur lifestyle. It gives them solid argument, fist for themselves then to help through times when these “friend” are coming.


    1. Glad you enjoyed the post! I agree that sometimes you are just stuck with people who don’t “get it” and there really isn’t much you can do, other than just keep doing what you’re doing and prove them wrong with your success.

  4. Hi Miranda,

    A lot of people that work from home never really consider their business as real. Your case is typical of what many realize before they get their aha! moment.

    I guess its time for many solopreneurs to key into the essence of registering their business. There is far much value doing this than we can imagine. Thanks for sharing this awesome piece!

    I have shared this comment in where this post is socially bookmarked for Internet marketers.

    Sunday – contributor

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