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Posted: July 20, 2012

The futurist: Eight reasons to be the boss of you

Plus five successful "Empires of One"

Thomas Frey

Many of those who have carved out a successful “Empire of One” business of their own do not spend much time promoting their success. They quietly go about their business and dedicate most of their efforts on gaining publicity for their business, not for themselves.

That said, here are a few people who have launched successful one-person enterprises:

1.) Airline Advice Business – Gary Leff is a CFO for a university research center who used his Frequent Flyer Miles to travel all over the world in First Class, and his friends kept asking for advice. Almost on a whim, he decided to launch a basic website offering the service of booking travel awards for a fee. His service is something that people could do on their own for free—but plenty of people don’t know how it works or just don’t want the hassle of dealing with airline call centers. This “side business” now brings in more than $100,000 a year.

2.) Diet-Master Business Jason Glaspey was a follower of Paleo, the controversial diet that is both loved and ridiculed. Jason noticed a common problem among fellow devotees: because of the requirement for regular shopping and planning, Paleo was hard to follow on a regular basis. So Jason created Paleo Plan, a membership site that offers shopping lists and ongoing guidance. The goal of Paleo Plan is to keep its customers on track, with detailed shopping lists and ongoing recommendations. The project now brings in more than $5,000 a month.

3.) Snowboard Guru Business Nev Lapwood is a snowboarding instructor who created a set of instructional DVDs that are now sold around the world. Nev had a good business model almost from the beginning. The business now produces more than $240,000 a year in net income.

4.) Blogging Business – Steve Pavlina runs a blog named after himself, StevePavlina.com. The site was launched in 2006. By 2008 he was earning well over $100K annually from Google AdSense, but made the decision to drop all the ads after becoming uncomfortable with the companies he was, by default, endorsing. He now earns considerably more by promoting only the products and services he personally endorses.

5.) Documentary Business – Luisa Dantas raised $28,049 from 236 backers on KickStarter for her documentary film Land of Opportunity, which tells the stories of a diverse group of people as they struggle to rebuild post-Katrina New Orleans, highlighting issues that plague many American cities. The film uses personal stories to engage viewers with complex problems such as affordable housing, immigration, urban redevelopment, and economic displacement.

Eight Reasons to Work for Yourself

The appeal of creating a workerless business goes far beyond what anyone else can offer you. Here are a few of the more desirable traits compelling people to take the leap.

  1. No-Alarm Clock Lifestyle – Your day starts and ends when you want it to.
  2. Finding the Real You – You do what interests you, and what interests you defines who you really are.
  3. Be Yourself, Genuine and Authentic – Most people spend their entire lives trying to be the person someone else wants them to be.
  4. Living without Fear – You no longer have to do the work of others, or live in the fear of being fired.
  5. Creating Your Own Value – Your personal worth is no longer defined by an employer. You get to keep as much as you earn.
  6. Accountable for Your Own Risks - While it may be risky to set up a business venture and work for yourself, ultimately there is far greater security than working for a company or even government. You can’t be laid off, and while your income may vary, you can always make money
  7. Personal Freedom – You choose where you live rather than living where you happen to find the right job. You can sleep in, go to the beach during the day, work harder sometimes and slack off at others – all without having to ask for permission.
  8. Control Your Own Destiny – In the end, wherever you end up, is entirely up to you.

Final Thoughts

Currently no one is offering training for this type of business enterprise. It is both a business for pioneers and daring risk-takers, and a logical extension of our current business culture.

Any startup business can be as simple or complicated as you wish to make it But there are many advantages to keeping it simple.

In addition to the issue of flexibility and self-control, workerless businesses tend to fly below the radar. In our super-litigious society, a business’ ability to avoid legal challenges is directly related to its odds of succeeding. Beyond the monetary costs, litigation extracts an emotional toll that has ruined the lives of countless aspiring entrepreneurs. For some, a lawsuit resistant business may be its most appealing feature.

For others, the elimination of human resource responsibilities is the key. In the U.S. more and more laws are added every year governing the employer-employee relationship. A workerless business has no employees – potentially many contractors, but no employees. The business adds or subtracts contractors according to the needs of the business, and since it is not providing a place of employment, very few laws apply.

Since no colleges or universities are currently teaching one-person entrepreneurship, the DaVinci Institute is taking a serious look at developing it. If this is a topic you’re interested in, please let us know. We’d love to loop you in as we develop our plans for the future.

 

Thomas Frey is the executive director and senior futurist at the DaVinci Institute and currently Google’s top-rated futurist speaker.  At the Institute, he has developed original research studies, enabling him to speak on unusual topics, translating trends into unique opportunities. Tom continually pushes the envelope of understanding, creating fascinating images of the world to come.  His talks on futurist topics have captivated people ranging from high level of government officials to executives in Fortune 500 companies including NASA, IBM, AT&T, Hewlett-Packard, Unilever, GE, Blackmont Capital, Lucent Technologies, First Data, Boeing, Ford Motor Company, Qwest, Allied Signal, Hunter Douglas, Direct TV, Capital One, National Association of Federal Credit Unions, STAMATS, Bell Canada, American Chemical Society, Times of India, Leaders in Dubai, and many more. Before launching the DaVinci Institute, Tom spent 15 years at IBM as an engineer and designer where he received over 270 awards, more than any other IBM engineer.

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Readers Respond

I would be interested in the one-person entrepreneurship that you mentioned the DaVinci Institute is taking a look at. I am currentlyin a business with a partner and 16 employees and am looking seriously at doing something different. Have a few ideas but they do also involve employees. I would be interested in following any developments you may have. By Christine Cooper on 2012 07 28
Actually there are many programs available on one person entrepreneurship. They tend to be focussed on a service - How to Be a Freelance Writer, for example, or in sales - the whole network marketing world. Then there are the self help books like The Four Hour Work Week. It's a popular idea, certainly for an era of high unemployment. Good luck! By Cindy W on 2012 07 20
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