Leading Entrepreneurs

Updated: Mar 20

Not so long ago, in the early spring of 2020, when I became a full-time sole proprietor, or maybe in more common terms, solopreneur, by starting my one-man digital agency, I quickly noticed a very positive problem. The pandemic and not least its by-product the governmental monetary Corona support for companies and entrepreneurs brought a lot of new business to companies like mine that provided digitalization services.

This quickly reflected very positively in the business I was getting, and I could no longer deliver them all on my own. However, I was still at the very early stages of my solopreneurship and I was least to say cash poor. So, first of all, I couldn’t afford to hire anyone, and secondly even thought of hiring anyone in this very strange time already felt stressful.

But thankfully by that point, I already had long and deep roots in the strong relationship of the creative industry and how it leveraged freelancers. I quickly found help from other solopreneurs working as freelancers in the creative industry from social networking sites like Facebook Groups, Fiverr, and Upwork.

I'm a passionate entrepreneur and leader, or more like passionate about entrepreneurship and leadership. So, these freelancers I started executing the projects with, had to listen to me on the lunches, weekly meetings, and on other get-togethers that I kept organizing for us where I tried and tested everything I kept reading and studying about entrepreneurship and leadership to empower us to deliver the best marketing services and benefit from the different entrepreneurial opportunities. I had accidentally created a professional work community of creative entrepreneurs.

During the spring of 2021, we started to have enough money to hire some of these freelancers as full-time creatives in my digital agency.

But it turned out to be a life-changing moment for me when all of them turned down the offer of employment. Not because there would’ve been something wrong with our culture, team, projects, or even me, on the contrary. Everyone shared our mission and was committed to the agency, but wanted absolutely continue as entrepreneurs.


So why do entrepreneurs need leadership?

Globalization escalated by digitalization has set off a wave of “digital nomads” perhaps, especially in the creative industries. Those who provided professional services left or were let go from their day jobs and began to provide their services as solopreneurs on their terms, regardless of time and place.

Entrepreneurship or solopreneurship has developed especially in the creative and digital services fields due to high demand. By choosing clients they wanted and working smarter rather than harder, many found opportunities in freelancing for better income and freedom than in their previous day jobs.

Other industries, such as the care industry, have followed suit, and I think solopreneurship now has a very positive brand with it kind of combining freedom and a growth mindset.

So more and more of us choose to be solopreneurs, but our need to feel part of a community and share a culture has not disappeared.

I also quickly realized that even I am a proud solopreneur and actively follow the entrepreneurial Facebook groups and watch several solopreneurial youtube channels, solopreneurship can still quickly become quite lonely.

But with entrepreneurship and solopreneurship now attracting more people interested in solving problems, there will be more entrepreneurs and solopreneurs among the workers, challengers, innovators, enablers, and leaders of the future.

We will continue to achieve our most significant achievements and breakthroughs together, as teams and as communities. Therefore, we must learn to lead entrepreneurs and solopreneurs and empower them to make the possible out of the impossible.

So my answer for the challenge is, that we need a strong value base to engage solopreneurs and entrepreneurs in a long term

In my leadership philosophy leading by example plays a key role. This seems to be an entrepreneurial trait. Those who don't know how to lead themselves in an exemplary manner often also fail to be successful entrepreneurs.

Then let’s talk next about what opportunities do leading entrepreneurs offer to the work-life?

We will not succeed in leading entrepreneurs to achieve our ambitious moonshots and 10x goals, or even survive with them through corporate hoodies, slightly better salaries, a month-long remote work trip to Thailand, or better office parties.

We will succeed in leading entrepreneurs when we can clearly communicate a common cause, why or a vision, whatever you want to call it, that is bigger than any of us or them alone and then we combine that vision with an ambitious but realistic roadmap.

For us, this successfully leading entrepreneurs comes from being with them together with a strong pioneer and a voice-for-the-community for creative entrepreneurs, and together doing remarkable creative work with our creative freelancer model. Together with showing the world, that a decentralized creative network can reach greater heights and provide more value to the world than a traditional marketing agency.

We have a transparent reward and expense system shared with everyone, even with our clients. To us, freelancers are not cheap labor expected to work after-hours. For us, they are the future leaders to solve the most significant problems our planet and societies face.

With our shared values and by concretely and visibly executing them, we have succeeded in leading entrepreneurs.

Now that modern times attract and create more and more entrepreneurs and solopreneurs every day, it is of the utmost importance to learn how to lead them as a team.

When we bring together the entrepreneurs with their growth mindsets, we can truly start building the future world of our dreams

If, on the other hand, we can't get entrepreneurs and their competitive spirit to unite for a greater cause, unfortunately, inequality in the world will only increase.

I’m Joonas Kylliäinen. At the time of writing, I’m a 36-yeard-old marketing entrepreneur, father, husband, an aspiring athlete, and a co-founder and CEO of Norders, a creative network with roots in Helsinki, and bases in London, Hong Kong, Tallinn, and Copenhagen.

Over the past few years, I have accidentally ended up leading a diverse and international group of creative entrepreneurs here at Norders. Professionally, this period has been the most challenging and rewarding.

As digitalization and platform economies develop, more and more people should better understand the opportunities that leading entrepreneurs will open up to the future of work-life.

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