Have you heard the term, solopreneur? This is a term used to describe a person that runs their business without a staff. Their business is often simple in structure—often an LLC, and probably have few or no outside investors. A solopreneur often works from their home and hires only independent contractors.
But that doesn’t mean that solopreneurs have extremely small businesses. Take Lee Loree, for example. Loree is an ex stock analyst turned solopreneur, sleep scientist, and inventor.
Bloomberg reporter Karen Klein says that Loree noticed his wife talking in her sleep and after numerous nights observing her sleeping, he came up with the idea for the SleepTracker. The SleepTracker is a monitor that a person wears like a watch that alerts them when they’ve reached the optimum time to wake up. The person sets certain parameters and after analyzing their sleep patterns, the device wakes them up when the lightest sleep stage is reached. This allows them to avoid much of the morning grogginess faced when waking up from a deep sleep.
Lorree has sold more than 250,000 in the United States and 34 other countries resulting in a $3 million business that he still runs by himself out of his Atlanta home. What are some of his keys to building a simple, yet highly successful company?
Don’t Fear Competition
Although Lorree was one of the first to invent the device, other competitors have invented similar products but he believes that more competition is good. With more people investing in marketing efforts, his products gain even more exposure. Although Lorree believes the company could be larger, he doesn’t believe that increased competition has significantly hurt his sales.
Not all businesses exist to become large corporations. Loree says that his company grows 10 to 20 percent each year but his main goal was to gain flexibility in his life in order to spend time with his family. He doesn’t want a larger corporation that would require more of his time.
Know Your Market
Most of the SleepTracker’s sales come from international markets. Lorree learned that his product doesn’t work well in big box stores or specialty catalogs. He also learned that there are not many good U.S. channels for the product so he concentrates his efforts internationally.
The SleepTracker is proof that a small business doesn’t have to be large and complicated to be successful. Lorree uses independent contractors to run all parts of his business and that not only keeps the costs down, it keeps his solopreneur operation manageable. As your business grows, think about the price of growing. Bigger isn’t always better.