How I Started my Solo Business Online

Back in January 2018, I launched my first startup with two lawyers. Two product iterations later, we got our first revenues. I enjoy frugality. Money is but a tool to attain greater freedom. In the end, money is not what I am looking for. My twenties are dedicated to one purpose: becoming a great software craftsman - reach mastery in my craft. I can only do it by practicing a lot so that, one day, I am finally able to craft a masterpiece. I just want money to be a side effect of excellence in what I am passionate about: making great tech products, meaning, writing truly helpful software.

How do I release more tech products then? The scope of my first startup was limiting. I needed to break out of it, so I decided to set up a one-man business in parallel that would give me the freedom to make my own things, at the pace I want, without giving up on my co-founders (the business shut down 4 months ago though, but that's another story).

I wanted to establish the business as soon as possible, in the simplest manner, so I opted for the French solopreneur status (known as micro-business, micro-entrepreneur or also auto-entrepreneur). Registering a micro-business is free and easy to do. Moreover, you pay taxes only if you perceive revenues from your activities. The only downsides are that 1) the revenues are limited to 70k‎€/81k$ per year without taxes and 2) you are personally liable for business debts.

Fortunately, none of those conditions constitute a real problem for me: tech businesses are the cheapest businesses to launch. You can build an online business for less than 50 bucks. If I ever get enough revenues from my products to hit the ceiling, I will have enough money to scale the legal infrastructure, since the gross margin of a tech business is so profitable.

To register a micro-business in France, you just need to declare it on by filling up an online form.

You then receive an official certificate by snail mail issued by INSEE, the national statistics bureau of France, containing your French business identification number (SIREN/SIRET) between one and two weeks later.

Once the business is officially registered, you have to open a dedicated bank account to receive and send payments. My personal bank being too expensive - and old-fashioned - I choose an online bank, Revolut, and opened a global freelance bank account for 8€ a month. It made sense to choose Revolut as my customers would not be limited to one specific country (multi-currency accounts without bank fees (!!!)) and I would receive payments by Stripe (the integration between Revolut and Stripe is clear and simple, a real breeze to work with so far). Stripe is a secure online payment tool suite that makes it easy to get paid from your own app.

When I subscribed to Revolut Business I automatically entered the business application queue. At first, seeing that 400+ people were standing before me, I was afraid I would never be able to open a bank account. In fact, your rank in the queue is just an informal indication. As soon as I logged in, the customer support reached out to me, asking about what I intended to do with my professional bank account and for documents to prove the existence of my business. Two days later, the bank account was ready to use.

I started the creation process at the end of June for an official launch statement on July the 15th. I received my business id number at the end of July, and opened my bank account at the end of August.

In the meantime, around mid-May, I started developing my first tech product as an indie maker, PyroHabit. By September, PyroHabit integrated Stripe and was ready to launch, so the infrastructure was complete in order to receive my first payment.

My business costs as of today are really low:

  • Web hosting (up to 20 websites) on 69€ per year / 5.75€ per month (about to be changed though, way too slow!)
  • domain: 8.90€ per year / 0.75€ per month
  • domain: 8.90€ per year / 0.75€ per month
  • Mail hosting / 5 pro email addresses on Infomaniak: 18€ per year / 1.5€ per month
  • Revolut bank account: 8€ per month

For a total of 17€ operational costs per month, you can launch two web apps. It’s never been cheaper and easier to become a tech entrepreneur, and that’s empowering.