- Micro Empires
- Resurrecting Micro-Entrepreneurs
Weekly #061 | Why More People are Choosing to Start Small
Resurrecting the Micropreneur
Go big or go home, right? Not always. With advances in emerging technologies, more aspiring business owners are choosing to stay small, while attracting increasingly bigger rewards.
The term “micro-entrepreneur” (or "micropreneur" for short) gained interest in a recent survey I conducted on Twitter (now rebranded to X). It refers to entrepreneurs who are either solo operators, or employ up to a maximum of 10 people.
Which of the following piques your interest the most?
— George Siosi | The Digital Wayfinder (@GeorgeSiosi)
Jul 25, 2023
Thanks to recent AI advances, micropreneurs are starting to drive more revenue and profit than ever before - rivaling companies with larger teams and overheads.
Micropreneurs are typically builders of micro-enterprises and often operate in industries that are underserved by larger businesses or that require specialized knowledge or skills.
You'll often find these types of entrepreneurs in emerging markets, dealing with micro-credit or micro-loan programs, but are now rising in more established markets.
Why Interest In The “Micro Entrepreneur” is on the Rise
As you can see, micropreneurship isn’t just a trend; it's been rising in interest since around 2008. With today’s technologies (especially AI), the ease of starting a business has never been easier. While we can see a surge around the 2008 Global Financial Crisis (GFC), the pandemic led to an increase in the number of people starting their own businesses, with up to 31.7 million new small businesses in the US alone.
Now, micropreneurs experience similar sorts of challenges to entrepreneurs, just at a different scale. The key here, though, is that many aspiring entrepreneurs suffer from analysis paralysis when starting a business (unless they're forced to). As a result, a focus on small, micro-steps can help individuals get started, then compound their success into later stages - where they can have the choice of what they want to do, and how.
Benefits of the Micro
Let's dive into the nitty-gritty of this, shall we? I mean, why on Earth would you want to be a 'micropreneur' if you could, with all the same effort, become the next Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos?
Well, I'll tell you why. It's because being a micropreneur comes with its own unique set of benefits. And trust me, they're becoming no less enticing than the perks of big business.
In 2014, with only 55 employees, WhatsApp sold to Facebook at a $19-billion valuation. That’s roughly US$350m per employee, nearly 5x what employees of Instagram would have got when that company was bought out for US$1 billion in 2012. This emphasizes the trend that people are figuring out how to do more with less.
But here are some of the other benefits of micro entrepreneurship:
1 - Maximum flexibility. You set your own schedule and work environment. You're no longer a mere employee, but the entire operation (if you so choose). Yet, it's not all rainbows and sunshine. Being a micropreneur means you're responsible for everything. Yes, every little thing - from accounting to marketing, from sales to customer service. It can be a lot. But hey, isn't the chance to be your own boss, and shape your own destiny, worth the struggle? I think so, and I believe more and more people are starting to see it that way too with new AI tools
2 - Less risk due to small initial investments. Starting small allows for organic growth. If it fails, the losses are smaller, but success can be limitless. And that's what makes it so alluring for many. You're not risking your entire livelihood from the get-go. In fact, I'd argue the greatest risk in micro-entrepreneurship lies not in the venture itself, but in the complacency of sticking to what's comfortable and never daring to venture out at all.
3 - Better job security. They are not dependent on an employer and control their own business stability. Flexibility and autonomy are their allies. Their small-scale operations mean they can adapt and pivot more easily to changing market conditions. I've seen this firsthand. They're not behemoths burdened by bureaucracy. They're nimble, responsive, risk-takers and innovators.
4 - Work on what you love, get paid for it. This offers a unique sense of fulfillment. But there's more to it than just the romanticized notion of following one's passion. The rise of the micropreneur is reshaping the business landscape, challenging the status quo, and pushing us to rethink our perspectives on entrepreneurship. The micropreneur represents a shift towards smaller, leaner businesses that prioritize flexibility, innovation, and personal fulfillment over traditional models of success.
Being a micropreneur is a non-traditional yet increasingly popular path to success, providing freedom, flexibility, and fulfillment.
How Choosing The “Micro” Way Can Revolutionize Your Path
Let me tell you a story that has been unfolding before my very eyes. Over the years, I've noticed a seismic shift in entrepreneurship. We're moving away from the cumbersome corporate behemoths, and embracing the agile, the nimble, the small. This is the renaissance of the micropreneur.
There's massive change afoot, shattering the archaic belief that bigger is always better. It's high time we acknowledged the sheer might of small-scale operations, especially as we hurtle toward an increasingly digital future.
So let's explore the world of the "micro," from micropayments to micronations, and finally to micropreneurs. I want to reveal how this concept can reshape how you see the future.
1 - Micro Payments
Since Bitcoin's birth in 2008, blockchain-based micropayment systems have been competing for dominance. The original Bitcoin system, which enabled tiny transactions (micropayments) at scale, is still an untapped hotbed of economic innovation and novel business models.
While widespread acceptance might be a decade away, due to our inherent fear of change, the possibilities it holds for the future of commerce are electrifying. It's an area I've been involved in for over a decade, and I'm still keeping an eye on it.
Dogecoin, which was originally created as a joke and is built off of Bitcoin’s Proof-of-Work system, is now possibly making its way on to X (formerly Twitter):
2 - Micro Nations
Let's talk about micronations, like Tuvalu, a place where I've previously explored blockchain concepts. Micronations stand to gain significantly from micropayment systems like Bitcoin. It provides them with an opportunity to step into global markets digitally, without the heavy dependence on foreign investments.
Micropayments can enhance micro-nations, which further enables micropreneurs. Nations like Singapore, Estonia, and even Switzerland, are all small in size but punch way above their weight economically. More and more micro-nations can compete globally by learning from the histories of these countries, and leveraging emerging technologies.
Read up on the concept of The Network State, to see how this may play out in the future.
3 - Micropreneurs
Finally, let's turn our attention to micropreneurs. They're a rising trend among solopreneurs who manage to pull in hefty profits independently, sometimes even raking in millions annually!
Million-dollar one-person businesses:
1. Star Dew Valley ($300M+)
2. TLDR ($5M+)
3. Tabs Chocolate ($11M+)
4. Justin Welsh ($2M+)
5. BuiltWith ($14M+)
6. ViralNova ($10M+)
7. Ugmonk ($5M+)
8. Pieter Levels ($2M+)
9. Visualize Value ($1M+)
10. Carrd ($1M+)
11. Designjoy ($2M+)
— Michael Houck 💡 (@callmehouck)
Jun 21, 2023
Yes, collaborations are may still be needed (since they’re not entirely solo). However, AI tools are now empowering individuals to run businesses more efficiently than traditional companies weighed down by overhead costs.
Take Hollywood actors, for example. Their roles are at risk of being usurped by autonomous agents that can artificially mimic their performances. And believe me, this is a reality that several other industries could soon grapple with.
Whether through micropayments or leveraging AI advances as a solopreneur (or ‘micropreneur’), embracing 'the micro' can lead to big gains. As survival favors those most adaptable to change rather than just the strong; utilizing developing technologies could be key to thriving amidst these shifts.
So, if you're an entrepreneur or professional trying to make your mark, don't dismiss the rising tide of micro-entrepreneurship. Instead, ride the wave! Understand its implications, embrace the technology, and see what 'going micro' can do for your future.
Because sometimes, the smallest approaches can lead to the biggest victories.
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