If you’re after a positive hobby or “side gig” that can potentially help to improve your financial situation in life, while simultaneously teaching you a variety of valuable skills, expanding your professional prospects, and keeping you entertained in a way that helps you to feel productive and accomplished, you could do a lot worse than setting yourself up as a home-based “solopreneur.”
In addition to the fact that this kind of side gig can be remarkably rewarding, in a variety of ways, it comes with the added benefit that it is now easier than ever before to run a small business from home, with virtually no overheads, thanks to the magic of the Internet.
Many people from around the world have been taking full advantage of this new and incredible realm of possibilities, and have been starting up small businesses of all sorts, ranging from craft companies, to freelance writing and graphic design gigs, and more.
On top of that, a good number of people have also been taking advantage of the location-independent nature of this sort of work, to become “digital nomads” and travel the world, while earning a living, simultaneously.
That’s not to say, however, that there aren’t certain distinct challenges that face web-based solopreneurs. For one thing, there are many ways in which you can be ripped off, exploited, and defrauded via the web and assorted digital services.
So, in the interest of helping you to avoid that situation, here are some tips for maintaining your security as a solopreneur.
Use identity verification systems to ensure that you always know who you’re dealing with
Jumio Identity Verification protects you against data breaches, and employs various systems, including facial recognition scans, document scans, and more, in order to verify the identity of the customers and clients you are doing business with.
In this way, it is one of a variety of tools that have been innovated in recent times, in order to help to ensure that you are less vulnerable to exploitation by people hiding behind aliases, anonymous profiles, and fraudulent identities.
As a general of thumb, if someone plans to defraud your company, hack you, or otherwise violate your security and privacy, they will try to do so anonymously, and to cover their tracks as well.
It more or less goes without saying that when someone is held accountable, and has their real identity on record, they will tend to tread more carefully, if only because they don’t want to face certain legal ramifications for their misbehaviour.
If your job involves meeting clients, always meet them in a busy public place, and never anywhere else
Many solopreneurial ventures – particularly those that start up really “barebones,” and that involve you selling a physical product of some sort – may require you to meet up with clients, one-to-one, in the normal course of things.
This is also often the case for solopreneurial ventures in which you play the role of an adviser, or consultant of one sort or another.
Of course, it should go without saying that if you don’t have your own dedicated and public office space to work out of, you need to be very careful about always meeting your prospective clients in busy public places, and never anywhere else.
And you certainly should never invite them to stop by your home, if you have even the vaguest reason to assume you might be at risk of exploitation, fraud, theft, or any form of violence or threat.
The bottom line is that the people you’re interacting with will be strangers to you. Normally, in a conventional business setting, the fact that they are strangers will be mitigated by the fact that you meet and do business in a professional office environment, communicate via particular business channels, have certain protections in place, and so on.
As a solopreneur, though, things are different, and many of those inbuilt security features and mechanisms just won’t be there. So, if you have to meet up with customers or clients, hold a meeting in a coffee shop rather than an isolated flat in the bad part of town.
Get a PO Box and a virtual number, and never give out your private contact details
When you create a small business, you will typically have to list address and contact information in various locations. If you file a trademark for your business, for example, you will have to register an address that can then be publicly accessed via the trademark database.
Of course, it should go without saying that you really shouldn’t include your home address or contact information, in a professional context. There’s no knowing who might access it, what intentions they may have, and what issues may develop as a result of it.
At the very least, you may find unwelcome correspondences and visitors mistakenly believing that your home is an office location.
Instead, be sure to get a PO Box that you can register in lieu of your home address, for all business correspondences. And, use a service to create a virtual number for your business. Or, get a second phone, specifically for your work-related matters.
It’s important for you to be contactable, but it’s also important that you don’t end up compromising your personal security by giving too much information away to the public.
Keep your primary work computer as secure as possible, avoid doing anything which could cause a virus to get in, and carefully consider your operating system
If you’re running a business from a particular computer – and especially if that business ends up being profitable, to the point where it is paying the bills, and acting as your primary source of income – you need to be extremely careful about the security of that computer.
At the very least, it’s important that you avoid doing anything that would make it easy for a virus or hacker to get in. Don’t download files from websites which you are not familiar with. Don’t open spam emails, and so on.
One bad virus, or any kind of compromise to your computer’s security, can lead to you being completely defrauded. In fact, it’s so essential for you to avoid this situation, it may well be worth your while considering using a Linux operating system for your primary work computer – as Linux systems are virtually virus-proof.