The Weekly Review

by Chris Bowler

How Many Solopreneurs Can a Healthy Economy Support?

If the early web was all about sharing and connecting (first with blogs, then with social media), the adolescent sure seems to be all about “going out on your own”. It seems like everyone and their dog wants to start their own business and call their own shots. Entire businesses have sprung up to help people do just this.

And I’m not knocking that; I’ve done it myself. I’ve been in jobs where I was less than satisfied and there was this big ol’ internet encouraging me to start something on the side, so I could make it into my full time gig. And there are no ends of smart people doing crazy things to earn a living, finding what they’re passionate about and turning it into an income.

But I wonder if there’s a dark side to this as well.

For one, working a full time job and doing your own thing on your side is a serious commitment. It’s very doable for young people with little to no family to support, but it’s a bigger deal for folks raising children. And what about community involvement? Internet based side gigs often have community, but it’s not often the face to face kind.

And most important, I wonder about a state of general discontentment. If the moment your full time job becomes less appealing, a little dreary, or starts to feel like a chore, should you go looking for your own thing? Is there no value in perfecting the craft you're already a part of? I think there’s something to be said for working at enjoying your job, even when you don’t feel like it.

There’s no right or wrong here. People like Justin and the folks at Fizzle are crazy talented and I love their work (I’ve only recently gotten into the Fizzle podcast, but dang … Chase and Corbett are top notch). If you feel a burning itch that needs to be scratched, these are the type of people to pay attention to.

But count the cost. Burnout is a serious reality for people trying to juggle two professional focuses at once. And there’s nothing wrong with working towards someone else’s bottom line, if they treat you well and enable you to do your best work.

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