Startups are hard. You don’t need me to tell you that. It takes a unique personality, approach, and situation to risk nearly everything and work tirelessly for a slim chance of a big financial reward.

For skilled entrepreneurs with a little less of an appetite for risk, a stuffy cubical job isn’t the only alternative. And don’t get me wrong, starting a freelance or consulting business without a book of business is a big risk.

Lifestyle Businesses Are Businesses Too
Just as startup culture has gone mainstream, lifestyle businesses have quietly become a popular and practical choice for skilled entrepreneurs who want to control their own destiny. They don’t have the media appeal of a company that starts in a garage, grows to attract millions of dollars of investment and creates thousands of jobs. But if you’re a skilled programmer, designer, developer, or writer, the internet has made it possible and easier than ever to open your shop, start marketing and selling your wares, and make a living.

That doesn’t mean it’s easy – you still have to deal with accounting, marketing, and yes, legal issues. And it’s certainly not as easy as Tim Ferris makes it sound in The 4-Hour Workweek.

That’s exactly what Michael Kimsal has learned and lived in his personal career. He’s gotten so good at it that his friends continually asked him for advice on how he went “indie” (Michael’s term for anyone that is a solopreneur, freelancer, “bootstrapper” or otherwise works for themselves). How did he get clients? What do his contracts look like? What did he do about insurance? How can you exchange your 9-5 job and make a living doing something you love?

Michael answered those questions so often that he realized there was a need for a conference that addressed the same issues, and IndieConf was born in 2010. The 3rd annual IndieConf will be November 17th at NCSU’s McKimmon Center.

Practical Advice from Practical Speakers
Michael has attracted speakers and attendees that place a higher importance on practical topics rather than sales pitches. IndieConf boasts session topics such as Shaping your Solopreneurship To Your Life (Instead of the other way around) and An Introduction to Monetizing Your Website. That practicality is the primary reason why it has been able to attract so many attendees in past years. Full disclosure: I’ll be presenting an IndieConf session this year on “How to Love Working with Lawyers, Accountants and Professionals” – I’ve got my work cut out for me.

No VCs, No Angels
Quite notably, the IndieConf website makes it clear this isn’t the place to bring your idea and get funded. One of the things that makes IndieConf different among many of the other conferences targeted to entrepreneurs is its focus on demystifying and educating folks about building businesses without outside investment.

Nothing personally against VCs or angels – Michael completely understands that investors are a important driver of our overall economy. He also thinks making it abundantly clear that IndieConf is unlikely to attract investors is exactly what helps attract attendees with the right mindset.

While IndieConf may not attract the kind of attention as larger investor conferences, there’s a good chance many attendees will walk away with the tools to take charge of their professional lives. And that would be a success in the eyes of IndieConf organizers.