Life Lessons from the Humble Waterbug | The Perfect Entrepreneur Business Model for Solos

If you’ve ever been to one of my classes, study groups, or symposiums, you’ll have heard me talk about my favorite insect: the waterbug. If you haven’t, you might wonder what the world a bug can teach a solopreneur.

Well let me tell you: a whole lot.

The waterbug came to me in a burst of inspiration when I was trying to think of a way to describe my vision of a better entrepreneur business model for solos. Since solos want to actually DO the work they love, the traditional pyramid model of hiring employees (who you will then have to manage rather than painting your pictures, designing your websites, counseling your clients etc. etc. etc.) simply won’t cut it. Plus, if you’re a one-person business, you just don’t have time to balance your books, design your website, manage your social media accounts…the list goes on.

Pyramid Model

What to do?

The answer is outsourcing.

Think of a child’s drawing of a waterbug: there’s a round body with a number of legs coming out. Each leg has another little circle at the end of it—a foot, skating gracefully on the water. See below for a highly technical diagram of what I’m talking about:

Waterbug Model

You—the solopreneur in question—are the “body.” Rather than building a “pyramid” of employees under you, you can contract with virtual assistants, web designers, bookkeepers, and social media experts to take care of those aspects of your business. You get to keep doing what you love and are good at…and they get to keep doing what they love and are good at!

This is such a beautiful model for solos, proving that “growth” doesn’t always mean hiring employees. Rather than becoming a dreaded boss, you are a beloved client. These relationships are peer-to-peer, business-to-business; they are reciprocal and non-hierarchical, fitting right in with the new paradigm of “work” in the 21st century. You are hiring them to support your business, and, by doing so, you’re supporting their business, thereby creating a rich web of interconnections; ideally, each of your subcontractors constitutes another waterbug “body,” outsourcing the help they need to keep their business going.

Stay tuned! Coming next week: a list of resources to help you navigate the world of online outsourcing.