After running my own marketing firm for nearly eight years, I didn’t know what I was. Then I found out:
I’m a micropreneur.
The word has a certain robotic feel to it, but actually a pretty simple definition:
A micropreneur or microbusiness is one that operates on a very small scale, or one with no more than five employees.
Check and check. And yet, I’ve been blogging about small business for years, focusing on topics like hiring and firing employees (something I don’t have to do), and scaling to become a multimillion-dollar company (something I don’t see happening for my company, at least not in the very near future).
I was a solo business owner trying to identify with companies that had to deal with hiring packages and unemployment insurance. Who was I kidding? Now that I have a name for what I am, I’m choosing to embrace it — and so should you.
There Are More Micropreneurs Than Any Other Type of Small Business
The definition of microbusiness is a far cry from that of a small business, at least according to the SBA. But a business with 500 or fewer employees operates much differently than a business with few to no employees, doesn’t it? And yet, 95 percent of small businesses are microbusinesses. So why aren’t we hearing more about them?
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I see more advice geared toward larger small businesses, and fewer resources for those shop owners, Etsy designers, consultants, and accountants who are the lifeblood of our small business culture. They don’t need tips on finding office space or building relationships with their various business departments. They — and by they, I mean we — want to know if they absolutely have to spend money on marketing, and what will give them the best bang for their buck. They want to know how to network to grow their businesses. They want to know how to make ends meet until that late-paying client actually sends the check they so desperately need. In a nutshell, micropreneurs want to know how to survive and thrive in their businesses.
What makes it different for us? What tools and resources can we actually benefit from, and even afford, for that matter?
Not sure if you are a micropreneur or not? Here’s a little tongue-in-cheek checklist:
You Might Be a Micropreneur If…
You’ve Got Hat-Head from All the Hats You Wear. This morning, you’re talking to a prospective client. This afternoon, you need to do some accounting, then head to the office supply store.
For micropreneurs, there’s not a clear delineation between roles. We do it all, from marketing to producing, and even taking out the trash. We can’t imagine having help, nor are we always willing to delegate. It’s in our nature to try to do it all.
People See You as Your Business. With larger companies, the businesses tend to be more impersonal. They’re made up of many people and personalities, where yours is all you. You’re passionate about what you do, and that’s great for branding. If you position yourself as an expert in your field, your business will thrive, because you’re the personality who’s front and center.
If you plan to sell your business down the road, consider separating yourself from your business name. You can have separate social media accounts (one for you and one for the brand name) so that you can divorce yourself from the brand later on if need be.
Cash Flow Is Your Number One Concern. Bigger small businesses have money in the coffer for those unforeseen expenses. You? You’re just trying to swing from one vine to the next. There’s no net.
I don’t have a lot of advice here, because I’m guilty of this mindset as well. But do pay yourself regularly. Set a salary so you don’t take too much from the till, leaving nothing for those inevitable expenses.
When You Don’t Work, Nothing Gets Done. So you’re a bit envious of small business owners with staff, because when they take a vacation, everything doesn’t have to shut down the way it does at your company. You are the staff, so if you’re not working, there’s no production and no money coming in.
I recently got into a discussion about this on Twitter, and a fellow micropreneur told me he simply couldn’t take time off, because he was his business. I’m in the same situation, but I’ve found ways to make it work. First, I plan ahead. If I know I’ll be out for a week, I take on whatever’s due that week beforehand so I leave my clients with work turned in early (who would complain about that?). I let them know I’ll be out. And you know what? They never complain. They know I deserve time off like any business owner. The world doesn’t stop if you take time off. Trust me.
Micropreneurs are hard-working and willing to put in the blood, sweat, and tears to realize success. For them, sometimes the journey and the flexibility that entrepreneurship brings is more valuable than the financial gain. I say it’s time we micropreneurs banded together to support one another.
Susan Payton is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, an Internet marketing firm specializing in marketing communications, copywriting and blog posts for the software industry. She’s written three books: DIY Press Releases: Your Guide to Becoming Your Own PR Consultant, 101 Entrepreneur Tips and Internet Marketing Strategies for Entrepreneurs, and has blogged for several sites, including The Marketing Eggspert Blog, as well as CorpNet, Small Business Trends, Chamber of Commerce, andScheduleBase. Follow her on Twitter @eggmarketing.