Win Big with a Small Business: Top 6 Tips for Solopreneurs
As daunting as it may seem, there is nothing as fulfilling as turning one’s dreams into reality. Especially when it comes to taking charge of your own business - being independent and accomplishing all that you had once just dreamt of. It certainly feels immensely satisfying and undoubtedly rewarding.
The past decade has witnessed the rise of small business owners- both entrepreneurs and solopreneurs at an unprecedented level. It has hugely been seen as breaking off from the culture of cubicles and rather exploring one’s craft and expertise as a profession. It is a way to channel one’s energies towards finding happiness, job satisfaction, and mental peace while still earning for oneself minus the ‘rat race’!
Today, you could be a writer, a yoga enthusiast, an artist, sell something, make something, teach a language, or any other skill; you could turn any of your skills with the right business strategy, essential tools, and your target audience in place!
According to recent report from MBO Partners-
"Among total independents in America, 82% are happy working on their own."
In fact, the year 2020 and the eventual pandemic-forced layoffs, economic recession, close down of businesses, employees losing their stable jobs gave a greater thrust to the side-hustlers to go entrepreneurial with their hobbies. According to the United States Census Bureau, the number of applications for starting a new business reached a record high of 551,657 in mid-2020, which was a 95% increase from the previous year.
The only thing to examine here is how far do these new businesses survive past the registration phase. Many businesses fail to take flight passed the first phase. Undoubtedly, solopreneurs are super focussed because they are already proficient in what they do. The aspect of catering to a specific niche also helps them stay aligned with their business development and goals.
But the life of Solopreneurs is not as easy. Because the work of a solopreneur is not about settling for one dream job. It is actually quite the opposite of it.
The journey of a solopreneur calls for an ongoing hustle right from the point of conceptualizing an idea to fueling it with resources, getting the engine started, and driving it with full force.
Who is a Solopreneur?
As defined in Merriam Webster dictionary-
”Solopreneur is one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise without the help of a partner.”
It is the combination of two words- ‘Solo’ and ‘Entrepreneur’. Simply put, a solopreneur is an individual who is self-employed, runs a business without depending on a co-founder or partner. A solopreneur also manages all important tasks of the business mostly independently with minimum assistance from a smaller team or outsourcing to contractors or freelancers to perform minor tasks.
These individuals have strength over every part of their operation, from raising capital to delivering their product or service, which gives them an unprecedented amount of control.
Solopreneurs Vs Entrepreneurs
Very often we are asked this question- What is the difference between a Solopreneur and an Entrepreneur?
Well, there is a thin line between these two sets of business owners that make one distinct from the other. Let’s find out.
As the word suggests, ‘Solopreneurs’ own and manage the business solo, hence alone. In that way, they are both the owners and the employees. Solopreneurs do not delegate tasks to others heavily or hire people, although they may once in a while use help like freelancing partners or software. But Solopreneurs essentially manage and take care of every aspect of the business independently and are solely responsible for even delivering the services.
In the case of entrepreneurship, there might be one or more co-founders of a company. In that way, even the ownership of an entrepreneurial venture may be shared.
Secondly, an entrepreneur does not handle all aspects of the business but hires specialized human resources to run specific departments. The larger role of guidance and management still lies on the entrepreneurs but there exists a small or large team that executes the daily tasks.
One very important distinction between a solopreneur and an entrepreneur is the potential of scalability. As most solopreneurs transform their craft into a business, they have to focus on offering a niche service. Therefore there exists limited options to scale their business.
For example- A painter who sells their paintings cannot scale beyond what he or she can produce. Similarly, they cannot even delegate the core task of creating art to anyone else. Hence, most solopreneurs only run a smaller company and nurture the short-term goal of immediate profit-making.
An entrepreneur on the other hand could consider expanding or opening services in multiple locations.
Similar is the case with growth. For entrepreneurs, growth is a pretty long game. The goal necessarily lies in the process of building something huge and scalable and may not look for immediate profits. During the growth years, entrepreneurs also seek funding and they are eventually able to scale the business until becoming a larger operation.
A solopreneur or a small business owner, on the other hand, won’t necessarily plan ahead as much or look for long-term financial goals or growth. They stay focused on delivering great service, passive income, or nurturing new customers as they would not be able to survive if they fail in making money quickly!
What are some of the common challenges faced by Solopreneurs?
As powerful as it feels to be one’s own boss, solopreneurship comes with its own challenges. The ability to strategize, ideate, and build a brand; to manage communications, accounts, operations, and schedules; and to create content, and market the product or service in a competitive market require expert multitasking prowess.
Here are a few of the key challenges solopreneurs face as they build their business:
- Effective Strategizing
- Early branding and marketing
- Alignment of long term goals
- Freelance management
- Efficient use of technology
- Scaling the business
Let’s scroll down to understand each of these points in greater detail.
1. Effective Strategizing
A crystal clear business strategy helps you take that giant leap from being an enthusiastic dreamer to a real-world solopreneur. Once you have clearly defined your vision and skill-set and what specific niche you would like to target, everything else will fall in line. One of the earliest challenges for anyone starting off with a business idea is the lack of resolution in strategizing their first steps in a highly differentiated marketplace.
Gathering ideal customer profiles (ICP), both qualitative and quantitative, utilizing close interaction with stakeholders, and aligning that to your business’s vision and mission helps in predicting accurate statistics about your business. It actually helps in building clarity on how your skill sets will be of use to your community and give you your desired return on investment.
Another very important aspect of being a solopreneur is focusing on a niche offering. Since a solopreneur manages all the aspects of the business completely and single-handedly, hence the business strategy is largely focused on growing a steady customer base that is both manageable and profitable, even during a short period. It all depends on striking that right balance between your skills and how that brings you great profit. A small but loyal customer base is all you want to bring everything together and define a clear and solid strategy.
Create your own niche because everyone else might be doing the same thing that you wanted to do. But how do you set your services apart from the rest? So, instead of being a ‘jack of all trades’, try to be the ‘master of one’. For instance, if you are an arts and crafts enthusiast and reside in a neighborhood with a lot of kids, then instead of being just the ‘art teacher’, try to be known as the ‘Arts teacher that inspires creativity in kids’!
A solopreneur’s specialization not only builds focus but also defines one service to be easily accessible to the target market.
2. Early branding and marketing
A solopreneur is not just an individual but a business or brand in itself. So when starting off with ideas, it is important to groom one’s business right at the very beginning. Branding or styling your business as you want the world to perceive you or your offering is an absolute necessity that is often overlooked.
Why is early branding so important for solopreneurs?
a) Branding Builds Trust-
What branding brings in primarily is trust and perception of the quality of services that you offer. Especially for someone starting solo, in a consumer’s mind, branding ensures you be the primary provider for any niche services.
b) Branding Builds Recognition-
Building recognition is a simple yet very powerful concept. There is no greater recognition than recognition itself. It is all about how your target audience sees you or identifies your brand and the quality of its services just by the name.
c) Branding Builds Relationships-
One of the most important factors for building a successful business is building relationships with one’s clients and consumers. It is even more important for solopreneurs to invest in their clients and maintain cordial relationships. It is this engagement and satisfaction that is more likely to bring in newer clients for you upon recommendation.
Branding acts as the theoretical glue that sets your business apart from others and exemplifies what your current customers, new clients, or potential customers mean to you!
3. Alignment of long-term goals
There is no second thought that starting or running a solo business comes with heavy-handed responsibilities. To become a successful solopreneur, one of the biggest challenges is to make optimum utilization of time. The saying ‘time is money’ is literally true for them. Because wearing too many hats at the same time may be well, thrilling but sure won’t help if it’s unmanageable and unaligned to your ultimate goal.
Mostly solopreneurs struggle to balance their multiple responsibilities and spreading themselves too thin can easily lead to losing focus from the value-add work to less-priority tasks. Staying aligned with time management and productivity is crucial when working on one’s own.
4. Freelance Management
Most solopreneurs take the idea of working alone too seriously. It is true that you have ownership over your dreams but draining out with overloaded tasks without delegating any work to anyone could affect growth trajectories.
Also as most solopreneurs are creative minds and skilled in a particular field, hence it is only wiser to have the support of freelancers for smaller projects. This not only allows the solopreneur to retain a flexible schedule but also gives them the liberty of time to excel in the quality of services or client engagement.
Start delegating operational tasks that you are not an expert on to a freelancer or temporary help. As the business grows, outsourcing work to part-time freelancers will also help save the overhead costs of hiring someone full-time or utilizing unnecessary office or co-working space but also save time.
A few things to keep in mind while hiring a freelancer are to check their quality of work, experience, how fast they adapt to your needs and schedules, and of course the factor of affordability.
5. Efficient use of technology
For a solopreneur, every small or big task seems to be important and something that they should ultimately take control of. This results in the inability to prioritize better.
Considering small business owners have to handle bookings, schedule classes or events, manage back and forth client communication, point-of-sale systems, marketing, social media marketing, accounting, customer relationships, and so on apart from the most crucial aspect of offering their craft and expertise.
It's a long to-do list and it's just you. It surely is quite overwhelming, to say the least!
Therefore to keep the business and momentum going, successful solopreneurs do not shy away from investing in tools and software solutions that help incredibly in sharing the load. While there is no magic wand for productivity and effective hustling, there are certainly a few useful tech tools that most successful small business owners and scaling solopreneurs rely on.
As your daily business operations need a lot of smaller, backend tasks which might be essential yet tedious and repetitive at times, hence a user-friendly software solution comes with many benefits and helps automate multiple tasks at one go! Automating tasks and streamlining your business operations will never hold you back from a reliable cash flow, achieving success in the long run, or well getting a good night's sleep!
6. Scaling the business
Usually, solopreneurs are understood as individuals who do what they love to do and are happy in the capacity that they function- that they do not necessarily want to scale or think about expansions in the long run. As they are mostly dependent on a steady customer base, scaling may be something that may not be an intended focus in the short term.
However, as today’s world is highly digital and people could sell their services via online business from anywhere in the world to anyone, it is practically possible for a solopreneur to gain momentum and clients from all over. The idea is not just to survive as a solopreneur but to thrive!
Starting or running a business can be a strongly demanding proposition under any circumstances, but to be able to go about it single-handedly is a true mark of one’s strength, courage, and determination to succeed. Solopreneurs are literally running ‘one-man shows’ and it’s incredible.
Give your business the time to find a solid footing and if ever there seems to be too much on the plate, adopt the best solutions out there that can help maximize your efficiency.
If you are a Solopreneur or starting out new or want to own a successful business, learn more about how Omnify can help you, check it out for yourself with a FREE TRIAL, and start optimizing your business today!
Solopreneurship comes with its own challenges. Read to know about the common challenges faced by a solopreneur and tops tips to win big with a small business.