The One-Person Business on Steroids

Not so long ago, running a one-employee business was simply a way to create your own job, not a route to entrepreneurship.

But that’s changing, as New York Times writer Catherine Rampell noted in her recent story, “When Job-Creation Engines Stop at Just One.”

Many solo entrepreneurs are now growing their businesses by hiring contractors, instead of employees. Thanks to new, labor-saving technology and other factors, it’s become possible to be a solopreneur–and to run a “scalable” business.

For the piece, Rampell interviewed Mike Farmer, who runs a digital startup that offers a mobile search app, Leap2. Although he’s the only full-time employee, he runs the business with the help of seven part-time contractors.

The trend toward hiring contractors reflects the high cost of providing benefits, as Rampell notes. But in Farmer’s case, all of his contractors have access to healthcare, mostly through their full-time day jobs, so it doesn’t appear to be an issue for them.

Startups like these may not be good news for those who hope that entrepreneurs will provide the types of permanent jobs with benefits that many job seekers want. But there are many people who want contract work, either as a side gig or as part of a full-time freelancing career.  I’m sure his part-time freelancers appreciate the chance to earn some extra money after 9 p.m., when their kids have gone to bed.

This trend can be good news–but only if you’re resilient enough to make it work for you.


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