The individualpreneurship discipline and the notion of an individual as an enterprise must be of interest to anybody who wants to:
- Advance as an employee into a leadership and/or managerial capacity
- Be self-employed as an independent contractor or freelancer
- Be an entrepreneur/business owner by transforming innovative ideas into value by starting and operating an upwardly mobile enterprise that is focused on capturing large markets, or a lifestyle enterprise in local communities, such as a restaurant or a retail business
- Manage their own investments
Individualpreneurship is a mindset for income generation for the fully-employed, self-employed, under-employed, and unemployed, whether working for somebody else, for themselves as sole-practitioners, while planning the next ventures, or just in-between opportunities. Opportunity is just beyond an individual’s comfort zone, and the individualpreneurship discipline provides the framework for capturing it.
Individualpreneurship has its roots in the agricultural age when individuals and families had multiple streams of income from such activities as farming, metalwork, needlework, and woodwork. During the industrial age, the notion of full-time employment became the norm for many people in managerial, staff, and labor capacities. Labor and employment, immigration, and taxation laws, regulations, and practices were established to encourage academic and vocational education as the basis for career opportunities in stable jobs. These practices were extended to encourage home ownership by providing income tax breaks on mortgage financing and property taxes to stabilize the economy as a whole. The information age has changed many of the prior assumptions. Globalization is enabled through improved telecommunications and transportation technologies, and jobs have been eliminated through improved information and process control technologies, impacting managers, staff, and labor. The result is that the economy has become less stable over time.
In a global marketplace with differing laws, regulations, and practices in various jurisdictions, new markets can open for revenue for both existing and new products and/or services, and new sources can open for cheaper materials, supplies, assemblies, and finished products and services at the same or higher quality. As a consequence, off-shore outsourcing has become commonplace. Job markets have changed in the United States, with more emphasis on service delivery and “knowledge work” than manual labor than in prior generations. Knowledge work opportunities exist in many industries, such as construction, manufacturing, and professional services. Knowledge workers can perform planning, analysis, and design activities electronically, and transmit results to operations facilities around the world, such as construction sites and factories for fabrication and assembly. However, workers in foreign markets can develop the same knowledge and skills at potentially lower cost in many cases.
Globalization leads to consolidation of large enterprises between and within mass markets to create economy of scale through increased effectiveness and efficiency. Hence, over time there will be fewer large enterprises on a global basis. However, specialized boutiques continue to provide value-added products and/or services in market niches, with higher qualified workers. As a consequence, in the United States, markets are changing to more knowledge-based jobs, less manufacturing jobs, and more lower-paid service jobs over time. Both domestic and foreign outsourcing is becoming commonplace for commodity products and/or services to providers who achieve economy of scale by serving many customers in essentially the same way. The result is that many individuals who were previously fully-employed are becoming under-employed, or even unemployed.
However, information technology has made it easier for individuals to develop their own “nonemployee” businesses as solopreneurs such as offering professional services and marketing products and/or services of their own or others. Many solopreneurs work from home. Many individuals are becoming webpreneurs by marketing and selling products and/services over the internet with solely a virtual presence. Solopreneurs can be sole proprietors of their own lifestyle enterprises and/or independent contractors to others (as permitted by law). Over time, solopreneurs may add employees, thus becoming more traditional business enterprise owners if demand requires the additional labor.
According to the United States Census Bureau, there were 21.1 million nonemployer businesses in 2009. Nonemployer businesses have annual receipts of $1,000 or more across 450 industries, except in the construction industry, which includes receipts of $1 or more. Most nonemployers are self-employed and operate businesses that may or may not be their primary source of income. Of the 21.1 million businesses, 18.7 million were sole proprietorships, 1 million were partnerships, and 1.4 million were corporations. In 2009, these businesses generated $838 billion in receipts. In 2007, the number of nonemployee businesses peaked at 21.7 million and generated $992 billion in receipts. There were 6.0 million employee businesses, with $29.7 trillion in receipts, 121 million paid employees, and an annual payroll of $5.0 trillion. Less than 1,000 businesses had more than 10,000 employees.
For entrepreneurs starting businesses as providers of new products and/or services, developing networks of independent but affiliated solopreneurs as marketing representatives may be a more effective way of building market share than traditional wholesale and retail distribution channels. The use of social media for electronic “word-of-mouth” marketing in conjunction with personal websites, webinars, and online ordering makes the use of webpreneurs as independent marketing representatives extremely attractive. These representatives earn commissions from sales and referral fees. If the product and/or service providers perform the bulk of the administration, the representatives can concentrate their efforts on marketing. The use of smartphones and tablets for email, phone, and text messaging in conjunction with personal websites, social media websites, and provider websites, increases the effectiveness of webpreneurs. However, no technology will replace the benefits of personal relationships and face-to-face communication. Marketing representatives may struggle at first as they learn new skills such as the art of persuasion, especially if they had been previously employed in administrative or operations capacities in the “corporate” world. However, being both “high-tech” and “high-touch” helps promote business opportunities.
The restructuring of markets and opportunities in the information age leads to the individualpreneurship discipline and the notion of an individual as an enterprise with multiple sources of income including:
- Wages – all forms of compensation for full and/or part-time employment, or combinations of both (including as a founder in a “C” corporation)
- Interest on investments
- Dividends on investments (including as a founder in a “C” corporation)
- Capital gains on investments
- Net income as an entrepreneur/business owner from active revenue generation activities, such as commissions, fees, rents, royalties, and sales less expenses
- Net income as an investor from passive revenue generation activities, such as real estate rents and/or royalties less expenses
Under employment and taxation laws, entrepreneurs/business owners can fall into one of three categories:
- Founder employee of a “C” Corporation
- Shareholder/officer employee of an “S” corporation (self-employed in mindset, but employed for tax purposes) receiving cash flows consisting of salary and capital distributions
- Self-employed as a sole proprietor of a lifestyle business enterprise and/or as an independent contractor, as a partner in a partnership, or member in a limited liability company
Establishing the individualpreneurship mindset enables an individual to exert more control over all of their income generating activities, whether fully-employed, self-employed, under-employed, or unemployed.
The individualpreneurship discipline embraces the enterpriship disciplines of entrepreneurship, leadership, and management, which apply to every individual in business, whether fully-employed or not.
Understanding enterpriship disciplines is extremely important for success as an employee, as an entrepreneur/business owner, and as an investor. In the corporate world, leadership and managerial capabilities are essential
for advancement through the ranks.
In effect, individualpreneurship is a discipline for building an individual enterprise for a sustainable self-reliant career; that means having the confidence to exercise one’s own judgment so as to be able to continue over time in endeavors of achievement in both personal and professional lives.
The notions are promoted by its affiliate, TechKnowPartners, LLC.