The thing I enjoy the most about being an online business owner is this: Nobody can take away what I have built with SBI! - John Shank, SBI! member since 2003

How 4 Seemingly Random Events in 1997 Impact “The Curse of the Solopreneur”

Written By: Mike Allton in How Solopreneurs Build Their Business | January 18, 2017

How 4 Seemingly Random Events in 1997 Impact "The Curse of the Solopreneur"

The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.Steve Jobs

Twenty years ago, 4 apparently unrelated events occurred…

  • Internet Explorer 4 was released.
  • The Rainmaker starring Matt Damon debuted in theaters.
  • Steve Jobs returned to run Apple Computers.
  • And a little publishing company was started in Montreal, Canada.

Now, before exploring the common threads that matter to you, I want to tell you a story about my friend… we’ll call him Abe Froman.

Abe started out, like many of us do, attending college with an eye toward a particular career… in Abe’s case, it was medicine. He studied well, and after graduation and internship, began teaching and practicing emergency medicine at McGill University in Montreal, Canada.

That was just his first career. It turns out that, life being somewhat limited, Abe didn’t believe in doing only one thing for his entire life. “10 years maximum,” he would say. “Then do something else.”

Abe decided to try his hand at inventing. More specifically, he invented and licensed toys and games. A couple dozen in fact, which were sold worldwide.

10 years passed. Abe thought to go into software development, and created several products, including one for the stock market sector.

51csHoy+gHL._SL500_1997 rolled around. Abe used his “solo entrepreneurial” experience to write a book called, “Make Your Site SELL” — all about how to build an online business that earned real revenue.

As you might have guessed, that’s where the name SiteSell came from, and how Abe… I mean, Ken Evoy… started the company twenty years ago.

But it didn’t stop there. It was only the beginning. Our fledgling company sold 150,000 digital copies of MYSS!, 15,000 printed!

After publishing a series of “Make Your ____ Sell!” books, Ken and his team were both pleased and horrified by the results of a reader survey.

Readers loved MYSS!.


They didn’t use it!

Well, a few did. MYSS! spawned the second generation of “Internet marketers.” Its readers include a who’s who of famous gurus.

But that wasn’t the goal. The team decided that budding online entrepreneurs needed more than just a guidebook — they needed tools and resources to build working websites.

In short, they needed everything in one place, only the right things, all presented in the right order.  And they needed it kept up to date since they didn’t have time for the firehose of information.

So Ken and his team developed Site Build It!.

SBI!, as it’s known today, is a complete suite of updated process, tools, community guidance and other resources to help anyone come up with an idea for an online business and turn that idea into a successful reality.

It came into being just as Microsoft was reaching its pinnacle of growth. Windows 95 had been released and Windows 98 was soon to follow, along with further iterations of Microsoft’s web browser, Internet Explorer.

IE4 was an interesting release. It’s most widely known for the fact that it brought almost complete integration into Windows with it — a feature that was so controversial and widely criticized that Microsoft had to back it out and allow users to uninstall IE.

What’s less well known is this: IE4 shipped with website publishing capability. Frontpage Express and Web Publishing Wizard were included, encouraging millions of users to create their own websites.

The “Curse of the Solopreneur” Begins…

This is where the misperception that “it’s easy to build an online business” started. There have been many sitebuilders that have come and gone since then.

Equating “site” (or “blog”) with “business” has been the silent killer of solopreneur businesses and dreams for as long as web hosting and sitebuilders have existed.  There’s way more to do before and after you start building a site, an entire process that must be done right.

One simple example – go to any web host or site builder and the FIRST thing you do (often even as you order) is  pick a domain name (or a free subdomain name if the hosting is free). That alone either dooms or severely limits many solopreneurs – thorough research of one’s niche, keywords, competition and monetization options can dramatically change everything that follows, including the domain name.  Starting with domain name LOCKS you into a direction that, at best, is suboptimal and at worst is fatal.

Today, some mighty large sitebuilding companies are still quick to convince unknowing and unsuspecting customers that “it’s easy to build a website.” All you need to do is change some text and some images on a template and you can “create a stunning website.”

The problem is that they go on to equate sitebuilding with building an online business…


It actually is easy to build a website. Pretty much any primate can do it nowadays…

image00What no one tells us unsuspecting humans is that “site does not equal business.” It’s only part of the process — a single step. It’s a time-consuming act, to be sure, but it’s not the most important one.

This is the battle that SBI! has been waging for two decades now, relentlessly standing up for individuals who have a dream and a passion. Folks simply want to make the best decision on where to invest their single most precious, and absolutely non-renewable, asset…


image03North American entrepreneurs have started businesses by themselves since the first fur traders. Europeans pre-date that by centuries. But it’s the promised ease of creating online businesses that has spurred the worldwide rising numbers of would-be “solo entrepreneurs”….

So much so that a new term in our lexicon gains traction: SOLOPRENEUR



an entrepreneur who starts a business, typically an online business, and works alone. Like any entrepreneur, the solopreneur may hire contractors, but she or he retains full responsibility for her or his business.

SBI! is uniquely suited to helping solopreneurs. We’ve therefore decided to give new meaning to SBI!, dedicating it to the solopreneur.

SBI! was originally called “Site Build It!” in 2002, when SBI! was a more limited product. That name stopped making sense as it grew into the only full-fledged, effective business builder.

Too many people thought that it was just another sitebuilder.  And “solopreneur” was not yet a well known term (the power of timing!). And so…

In the same way that “Apple Computers” became “Apple” (when consumer electronics became the business), the name of our flagship product became the more generic, but still familiar, “SBI!. “

Apple, though, can “do generic.” It niggled at us. We wanted the name to make a statement. The term  “solopreneur” allows us to more clearly reflect who SBI! serves…

Introducing Solo Build It!


Solo Build It! remains the same uniquely enabling  suite of process, software tools, community guidance, support and other resources.  It empowers solopreneurs to focus their time on what matters most, to get the most out of every hour invested.

Our 20th anniversary is the perfect time to renew and restate our commitment to helping individuals achieve their dreams.

More than just websites, our members build real businesses with real results — see for yourself. Approximately 50,000,000 solopreneurs use an incredible variety of tools and platforms. Recently, we found that those who choose to follow the Solo Build It! process are 100x more likely to succeed.

It was a staggering revelation, even for us.  Our approach could not be more different…

In an age where Wix adopts the #ItsThatEasy hashtag, we tell folks it’s hard work. We simplify it, but successful business-building will never be easy.

While Yola’s free sitebuilder sends you tips about “choosing keywords to rank at search engines” and then upsells you to their “Gold package,”  we don’t do “tips.” Only an all-encompassing process works.

Every time we talk to another one of our members about how they’re doing, we continue to be impressed with their dedication and ambition. Each one inspires us more than we enable them.

Individuals use Solo Build It! and thrive. Large companies lose sight of the individual in the interests of ever greater corporate gain.

Which brings me back to The Rainmaker.

Matt-Damon-The-RainmakerIf you’ve never seen the film, it’s about a young attorney named Rudy, played by Matt Damon. Rudy comes from a poor, unconnected background. There were no offers from the large, prestigious firms.

Rudy has to start his own firm. He takes on one huge insurance lawsuit – representing a family torn apart by the terminal illness of their 22-year old son. An illness which might have been stopped, save for the insurance company’s denial of treatment.

Rudy takes a stand against the overbearing, revenue-focused insurance business. He does everything he can to help and fight for a family that lacks the means or experience to do so.

Rudy also has to take a stand for himself, working against morally bankrupt attorneys who would use him to fuel their greed.

You know what a Rainmaker is, kid? The bucks are gonna be falling from the sky.Deck Shiffler

This is where those other web builders come in. There’s nothing inherently wrong with using templates and having tools at your disposal that ease the building of a site.

The problem? The other guys tell you that your “Stunning Website” is your rainmaker. Here’s the truth…

No one can make it rain for you besides you. But you can get help holding the umbrella.


Looking Back, and Looking Ahead

Twenty years ago, SiteSell started helping solopreneurs around the world achieve their dreams. We have always, and will always, look out for you, the solopreneur. We believe that we should succeed only if you do, while major sitebuilders and web hosts treat solopreneurs as assets to be milked.

Whether it’s a simple forum post, an important new article, or a brand new feature (included in the price), Solo Build It! gives solopreneurs the information and tools that they need, when they need it. The all-included combination eliminates distractions,  focusing you 100% on what matters most.

The Solo Build It! forums are filled with posts from members and committed staff. Kindred spirits in “The Place for Friendly, Business-Building Discussions” help each other. No flames, no affiliates, no selling — they share the common language of SBI! to help move each other ahead.

The reality of results speaks louder than any words. The approach has been proven beyond any possible doubt. When you get more done per hour, when you do the right things in the right order, executing at the right level, the resulting efficiency surprises even us.

Twenty years from now, you could be looking back on today as “the day you made that commitment to yourself” — the commitment to reach an important goal by building your own business.  Mark Twain had it right…

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.Mark Twain

Twenty years ago, that’s exactly what Steve Jobs did. He returned to Apple and brought his passion and zeal for helping consumers get the most out of their technology.

Steve Jobs lived by his words…

Your time is limited, so don’t spend it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.Steve Jobs

There will only ever be one Steve Jobs, but the words are universal. They speak to all of us. Nothing stops you from following your inner voice to become “what you truly want to become.”

You are not trapped in the 9-to-5. You are not limited to what you can do in your town or industry. You are never stuck if you can use your time productively.

“Trapped.” “Limited.” “Stuck.” Those are options. You can decide today to follow your heart and intuition and build a lasting legacy for yourself and your family.

Today, at SiteSell, we hereby renew our fight for the solopreneur by stating it clearly in our new name. Ken, true to his “10 year rule,” took a hiatus for a few years, “kicking myself upstairs.”

He’s back this year, rejoining a core of veterans and a talented group of folks dedicated to helping you to make it!

SiteSell is the only company of substance with 20 years of dedication to serving  solopreneurs, 15 of them through SBI!. Most of us were former full-time solopreneurs and remain part-time solopreneurs. Collectively, we bring deep insight into your needs and challenges – an insight that can only be had by “living the life.” In short…

Whatever you’ve experienced, we’ve been there, too. We make every decision with your best interests in mind. That is how SiteSell and everyone here succeeds, too.

The past 20 years have seen many major developments and an intense acceleration of pace. The next 20? More of the same – and we’ll be there to boil it down to what matters to deliver an ever-growing advantage.

Join us and the thousands of successful solopreneurs using Solo Build It! today. Throw off those “bowlines.” Let’s explore, dream and discover together.

End “The Curse of the Solopreneur.”

Start building with Solo Build It! today!

Try SBI! here, risk-free.

Or if you prefer WordPress, try SBI! for WP.

Either way, there’s no upsell!  And oh yes…

Umbrella included.

Mike Allton
Mike is an award-winning blogger, speaker, and author at The Social Media Hat, and Brand Evangelist at Agorapulse where he strengthens relationships with social media educators, influencers and agencies.

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