Why Owning Your Own Business Is Everything…
By Chinwe Onyeagoro, CEO of PocketSuite
“In the process of overcoming some of the challenges of starting and running a business, and working with solopreneurs owners, I’ve come to realize that solo businesses are overlooked in this country…
If you think about it, 76% of all businesses in this country, or about 24.9 million, have no employees. If you help them operate even 1% better, think about how much stronger the U.S. economy would be.”
— Chinwe Onyeagoro is the CEO of PocketSuite where she is responsible for strategy, customer success, and growth. She served as president of Great Place to Work and previously worked for McKinsey & Company, The Monitor Group, and Pritzker Realty Group (under former Secretary of Commerce).
As a kid, if someone wanted to set up a lemonade stand, I’d be the one to write a business plan. So, it wasn’t a surprise to me, or anyone who knows me, that I went out on my own.
I always knew I was going to own my own business. Now that I do, I’m on a mission to help solopreneurs succeed. It’s something I’m passionate about.
PocketSuite came about because I was trying to manage my own life. Before my husband and I got married, I was living in Chicago and he was in San Francisco. I’d be on a plane or train more than three days a week traveling back and forth. So I was outsourcing everything in the household: cleaning, shopping, time with my hairstylist and esthetician, fitness- and life-coaching sessions — you name it. I was using a lot of different apps for booking services, confirming appointments, and getting and paying invoices, and it was pretty frustrating.
So my husband, who was working as a software engineer at NetSuite, built the first version of PocketSuite to help me do everything from a single mobile app. It turned out that a lot of our service providers needed that help too, so it took off.
In the process of overcoming some of the challenges of starting and running a business, and working with solopreneurs owners, I’ve come to realize that solo businesses are overlooked in this country. I want to change that. We hear chapter and verse about companies that have 500 employees or more; about their hiring, investing, and outsourcing trends. They’re studied widely.
You don’t have that level of transparency in the solo-business economy, that insight about what makes them thrive, about what they contribute to the broader marketplace. I think we’re the lesser for it as a society. If you think about it, 76% of all businesses in this country, or about 24.9 million, have no employees. If you help them operate even 1% better, think about how much stronger the U.S. economy would be. If you help them hire just one employee, we would have a negative unemployment rate.
Ironically, because of the pandemic, entrepreneurship is on the rise. At first, the unemployment rate skyrocketed, hitting a peak of 14.8% in April 2020. But then people started getting creative and setting up businesses, with more than 500,000 applications for an employer identification number between March and May 2020.
I think that’s great, and it’s never been more possible to do it successfully. Now that we’ve got mobile phones, payment platforms, and global social marketing tools, technology has effectively leveled the playing field between very large businesses and independent professionals.
But the truth is that starting and maintaining a small business is hard. Around 80% of small businesses are out of business within five years. I believe it shouldn’t be as hard as it is. Given the level of uncertainty we now live in, and that we can’t take anything for granted going forward, it’s more important than ever to ensure that solo businesses can stay in business.
This story originally appeared on Entrepreneur