You’ve probably heard of entrepreneurs, but have you heard of solopreneurs?
While the concept might seem odd at first, it’s actually pretty simple: a solopreneur is someone who starts a business on their own—without a co-founder or employees. It’s a popular option in Iraq for people who want to get involved with entrepreneurship but don’t have the team or resources needed to launch a traditional startup.
In the past, the country’s unstable economy and political turmoil limited Iraqi solopreneurs. But now that Iraq has stabilised, solopreneurs are emerging as a new force in the Iraqi economy. They can be designers, photographers, web developers, consultants, chiefs, and marketers—anyone who wants to start their own business without other people.
Rise in Solopreneurship
Two major factors have driven the rise in solopreneurship: first, the need for financial security in a country that has experienced years of war; and second, the desire for independence from government control. Iraqis want to make their own rules about how they live their lives, which means business owners have an opportunity to create a new economy that reflects their values and priorities.
Furthermore, some Iraqi entrepreneurs are inclined to solopreneurship because of trust issues and fear of being let down by others. Additionally, teamwork and other collaborative soft skills do not come naturally. It isn’t taught within the Iraqi education system either. The ability to work well with others and lead is lacking in many Iraqi entrepreneurs. Yet, these factors have also led them to be more resilient than other entrepreneurs in the region who work with partners.
The growth of solopreneurship is also a symptom of a larger problem: the Iraqi economy is unable to create enough jobs for its growing population. Unemployment rates are estimated to be as high as 14.1% amongst the population in 2021, and 27.2% among youth aged between 15-24.
Pros of Being a Solopreneur
Solopreneurs need to wear many hats, so they are a jack-of-all-trades. They may be the CEO, accountant, social media manager, and salesperson all rolled into one. While this is stressful and overwhelming, it also means that they can make decisions quickly and efficiently. Solopreneurs do not have to worry about delegating tasks or finding new employees; they simply take on more work themselves. This can be especially beneficial to new business owners, who often need time to build up their client base before expanding or hiring additional staff.
When you are the only person responsible for your company’s future and success, it can lead to overwhelming pressure. However, leaders who experience this pressure are more likely to come up with new ideas and initiatives that keep their companies moving forward.
Cons of Being a Solopreneur
There are some downsides, too. Solopreneurs can be lonely at work, working long hours, and not having much support. While there are ways to mitigate these issues, they’re still worth considering. Being your own boss also means taking on all the responsibilities yourself—and that can be stressful if you don’t know how well their business will do! If something goes wrong with your product or service, then there isn’t anyone else who can help fix it.
The most notable challenge is the lack of funding. Solopreneurs are usually less likely to raise investment because investors see solo founders as higher risk. If their business fails, they won’t have anyone else to blame but themselves. This can be a huge disadvantage when competing with other companies in the market that have access to funding and resources.
Solopreneurs have to afford their own mistakes and failures, that’s why Iraqi solopreneurs mostly rely on personal savings, family loans, and maybe the support of startup incubators and accelerators to receive mentorship and financial support.
Iraqi Solopreneurs We Love
An example of a successful solopreneur is Basima Abdulrahman, Founder and CEO of KESK. KESK is a green solutions company that provides building and design services and renewable energy technologies to the Iraqi market. Basima was inpsired to start her company after she realised there was a lack of green building materials and solutions in Iraq. She started her journey as a consultant in 2018 and grew the company from there.
The company now employs around 12 people and is the only female-led startup to receive investment in Iraq. KESK has won multiple international awards for its innovative and environmentally friendly solutions. Basima is an inspiring example of what can be achieved with passion, determination, and hard work but remember, it isn’t easy.