Rob Walling, Solo Entrepreneur on Failure, Shipping, and Working Alone


Rob's talk focused on failure, shipping, and working alone: his essential rules for micro-magnificence.

Rob is a solo entrepreneur who no longer works with clients, but earns all of his income independently. However he reassured our delegates that we have a lot more in common than one might think – in creating software, books and conferences, your process may be different from Rob's, but there is a lot of commonality in the business aspect.

Rob shared 7 rules for solo entrepreneurship success.

Rule #1: Build Products – When we talk about self-employment, people immediately think about freelancing. Rob says hours for a dollar amount is a job. Forget dollars for hours, and think about building products. Write books, songs, build a game, make a film. The rule of thumb: "Build it once. Sell it forever."

Rule #2: Freelancing is Dangerous – We tend to think freelancing offers more free time than a salary gig, but this often turns out to be wrong. It's hard to justify not earning your hourly or daily rate to work on a book or a product.

Rule #3: Don't ask for permission – Waiting until x, y or z happens is just an excuse. We're scared to put ourselves out there so we hide behind this need for permission. It's a dangerous way of thinking that will stop you from launching your product.

Rule #4: Build your email list – Digital sharecropping, coined by Copyblogger, is building your audience outside of email, where you don't own it. Social media platforms may disappear, but your email list is yours. Don't risk being cut off from your people.

Rule #5: Work Alone – Not on a committee, not on a team. If you need moral support, find a friend, husband, wife, colleague. Someone who isn't taking half of your equity!

Rule #6: Don't try to do everything yourself! – It is not a sustainable lifestyle. If you want to do this for the long haul, think of the things that you can parse out. If you can find someone who can do it 80-90% as well, you'll be better off. If you're doing purely digital work, for example, a virtual assistant is a huge help.

Rule #7: Ship – If you create art & no-one sees it, does it matter? If you don't ship, failure is inevitable. The more you ship, the less fear of failure you will have. 

Rob signed off with a couple of quotes. The first comes from Steve Martin, which reminds us that, "It's easy to be grey. It's hard to be consistent."

Finally: "Never apologise for your art." – Rob's reminder to you, and to himself – in the form of a tattoo.


Watch Rob's talk:

Rob Walling from Small is Beautiful on Vimeo.


Here's more from Rob Walling through our Twitter live feed!


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