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Why Staying Small is the Next Big Thing in Business

One person businesses are such a growing trend that some people are wondering – how long will it take before a one person business is acquired for USD 1 billion.

You hear many success stories of Unicorns, or high growth, large-scale businesses, but the truth is that there are millions of people now who are looking for a new way to do business, which is lean and doesn’t require all the heavy infrastructure, investment and pressure to build a high growth business. More and more, people believe that large-scale businesses are all about hitting big benchmarks and getting an exit but to what end? They’re seeking a different life, they are looking for ways to pursue their passions and interests, and make an income, but in a way that allows them to have more time.

One of the big drivers behind this trend is the fact that we can achieve so much more with fewer people than ever before because of technology, because of the availability of contractors. A single person business can achieve what it used to take 10, 20, or 30 people to accomplish.

HOWto.LIVEit Founder & CEO Ana Kertesz covers the details behind this trend in conversation with Elaine Pofeldt, a journalist who has had her work published by the major business and entrepreneurship publications as Forbes, Fortune, Inc, NBC, Money and she’s written the Incredible book “The Million-Dollar One-Person Business”, in which she has done a lot of research and has spoken to a lot of entrepreneurs about this growing trend.

Hi, I’m Ana Kertesz and this is HOWto.LIVEit. Welcome. Today we’re going to talk about why staying small is the next big thing in business. You hear a lot of success stories of 1 billion dollar plus Unicorns, but the truth is there are millions of people now who are looking for a new way to do business, which is lean and doesn’t require all the heavy infrastructure. They’re seeking a different life and we are going to cover today this conversation about why staying small is the next big thing in business, So I’m joined by Elaine Pofeldt, a journalist who has had her work published by the major business and entrepreneurship publications as Forbes, Fortune, Inc, NBC, Money and she’s written the Incredible book “The Million-Dollar One-Person Business”, in which she has done a lot of research and has spoken to a lot of entrepreneurs about, you know, this growing trend. Hi, Elaine. Hi, Ana, it’s great to be here. Thank you. Thank you for being back at the HOWto.LIVEit Family. So, on your book you mention a conversation with Eric Scott, who works for a top Silicon Valley VC in which he says he wonders how long it will take before a one-person business is acquired for 1 billion dollars. So let’s talk about this growing trend. What’s behind it? One of the big drivers behind this trend, Ana, is the fact that we can achieve so much more with fewer people than ever before because of technology, because of the availability of contractors. A single person business can achieve what it used to take 10, 20, or 30 people to accomplish. One point that you have mentioned a few times that I think is really a different perspective that I would love to share it to the world, which is the point that people are making a conscious choice to start businesses in a way that is lean enough that allows them to keep their freedom, their time, and do other things that is not only running gigantic businesses. And as we know, a lot of entrepreneurs say they basically lose their passion for the businesses they started when they become too complex, too big, and too hard to manage. So, let’s talk about this growing trend, which is not the Unicorns, but it’s something else. Well, it’s a lifestyle business and Ana time is the new money. People really value the ability to have experiences. We’re living in an experience economy, But I think on a deeper level people really hunger for connection with the people who matter to them and they want to have time to live their life, their private life, and not just their work life. And what happens a lot of times with startups is that they go into 24/7 mode where they’re living in a business incubator, living on soyland instead of real food, and no offense to anyone who likes soyland? But they’re disconnected from what it means to be a human being and that’s why I think they lose their passion. It’s all about hitting big benchmarks and getting an exit but to what end? What are you actually building in those situations? And I think people are stopping and saying hey, wait a minute. I have one life. I really want to enjoy it. I want to do the things that I love, with the people that I love and they’re finding that a lifestyle business can be an engine to it. But it’s not the lifestyle business that’s struggling from project to project, because that in itself can become a 24/7 actually. You too. It’s a thriving lifestyle business. And that’s what the book looks at. Yeah. I’ve been reading about the Zebra Movement in Silicon Valley and how that sort of a counter movement to the quote and quote toxic, you know Unicorn culture. Can you talk a little bit more about that? Sure, that is one of the most exciting trends that I’ve been seeing in business, Ana. It’s a movement from people that are driven by purpose. They love scaling. I’ve never been against scaling, by the way, sometimes I think because I wrote “The Million-Dollar One-Person Business” that I am, but I believe every business has a natural size, and they’re focused on the businesses that are a little bit beyond the stage that I’m writing about, that want to scale but they don’t want to have the quote and quote grow culture and all the bad behavior that we see in the Unicorns, they want to have community responsibility, giving back, that sort of thing and the Zebra Movement is a way to put a name on it and they have I believe more than four thousand members now and it’s growing across the world. Okay. Elaine, I do believe that there’s a new way of doing business and you talk about that in your book and you talk about that in everything you write, which is no longer people are necessarily seeking the traditional small business way and no longer people are seeking the startup way that sort of requires millions of dollars to scale into a huge business and you know, sort of a third path of entrepreneurship. Let’s talk more about that. It’s definitely a third path to entrepreneurship today. It’s you might call it a small business on steroids. The one-person business can now achieve the kind of revenue that it used to take five or ten people to achieve if they use the right strategies to optimize what one person can do. So this offers a better lifestyle than the typical one-person business which brings in about fifty thousand dollars a year based on statistics and wouldn’t really cover the cost of living in most major metro areas. This would allow you to live pretty much anywhere that you would like to across the country or in any big city in the world. I think one of the points that you touch upon often, which is one of my very strong beliefs is that people are proactively seeking this third path of entrepreneurship. So they’re making a conscious choice to start and grow businesses that are more prone to being successful without having to have a lot of infrastructure associated with them. And the reasons are maybe, you know, having a better lifestyle, not willing to put you know so much capital, not willing to necessarily run so much risk, having, as you said, you know, time is the new luxury. So having you know location freedom. Do you agree that this is a conscious choice that people are making to go out and start businesses that you know, they can keep lean even as they grow? It is definitely a conscious choice. Many of the people that run million-dollar one-person businesses could be out running a scalable startup where they could have a very big corporate career, but what they would not have if they did those things was is their time and they value their time and they also value a hassle-free. They want to be able to work from wherever and whenever they want. And they are determined to make it happen. A lot of these folks are really good at what they do and they have the raw materials to succeed, but then they also use strategies that allow them to accomplish more than the average person and that’s why their revenues are more than the average one-person business. Okay good. Thank you. Today we talked about why staying small was the next big thing in business. I was joined by Elaine Pofeldt, an independent journalist and the author of the incredible “The Million-Dollar One-Person Business”. She dig further into the trends of how one person businesses, or lean businesses, have been able to scale without having to have the burden of a heavy structure and heavy, you know, hiring of people. And we wonder still when the first one person business will be bought out for 1 billion dollars. So thank you for being with us today and stay tuned and go out and live it.