The first step in starting your new business is to choose a single focus. Solopreneurs usually start by catering to a niche market, where they can build an active and interested audience. You will want to have a steady customer base before you move on to anything else.
Having reliable customers is essential. They keep your business profitable and allow you to easily engage with them. Plus, a solid customer base keeps your business easy to manage. If you start to branch out too much, you might have trouble handling all of the tasks on your own
Center of all your services and products around your single business focus. For example, if you were running a freelance graphic design business, you would focus on delivering the graphics your customers wanted. You would likely not branch out too much into other areas.
This is another difference between entrepreneurs and solopreneurs. An entrepreneur who runs a graphic design business would have a team of designers working for them. They could offer more services- which would be hard for a single person.
Your single focus should reflect your passion and what you love. With one main service or product you will be able to cater to a niche market- where there is less competition. Many independent workers can meet all of their goals by doing this.
So, before you can start working as a solopreneur, you need to know how to sell to a niche market.
Choosing Your Business Focus
Your business focus is going to be the center of everything that you do- you do not want to pick something you might dislike or grow bored with later. What is your passion? Do you have any hobbies you want to market? If you love what you do, you are much more likely to succeed.
Use these steps to determine what your business focus should be:
To summarize, your business focus should be something unique that you enjoy doing. It is difficult to work in fields that bore you - you would lose interest in the business quickly, then likely lose your investment in the start up too.
How to Sell to a Niche Market
Once you have your business focus, you will need to learn how to sell to that niche market. You will want to know everything you can about your audience. From there, you can use your focus to create your marketing strategy.
A well thought out content marketing strategy is essential. Luckily, you can build your own online. Many independent workers run social media pages for their brands. To do this, you will need to work on your brand identity, then focus on uploading consistent content.
Your unique business focus can lead to a great content marketing strategy naturally. For instance, if you are a photographer looking to market yourself, posting your professional shots often on Instagram would be extremely beneficial to you.
If your business offers products, then you can find plenty of ways to market online. Social media advertising is a great way to bring traffic to your website, which increases sales. When it comes to niche audiences, you want to be certain your ads are appealing to them - otherwise you are wasting money.
Most importantly, take the time to engage with your audience and listen to them. Your customers know what they want and will tell you.
Building a Market
Is your idea or niche such that there is no obvious market? You can always try to make your own. To do this, you will need to invest a lot of time into your marketing campaign.
Once you have found your audience, you need to show them why they should buy your products or services. The best way to do this is to create a compelling story around your business focus. Potential customers will want to see all the benefits that your business has to offer them before they make any purchases.
You can tell your story through content creation. Make videos, images, and articles. Make sure that you include all of the benefits that your brand has, as well as what makes it different from your competitors.
Thank you for reading,
This article is based on a chapter from Solopreneur Success found in the Storefront.
Over the years I have assisted hundreds of budding entrepreneurs in getting started in their businesses. Our Business Development course included everything one needed to know to establish a business. We began by assessing the individual to determine whether they were open to learning, what skills they had to bring to the business table, what their attitude towards business was, and whether their lifestyle was conducive to the hard work of opening a business. We worked with them to develop a business plan, supported them as they learned to get their business off the ground, and even worked with them to obtain business loans from the bank.
We know that many people start a business without such support. Our studies showed that only 35% of those who started a business were no longer in business five years later. We found that our business support and coaching catapulted new business owners to an 85% success rate after five years. This percentage increase is not unusual as others who provided business training and coaching had the same result.
Many of the businesses we worked with started as “Mom and Pop” operations and others were solopreneurs. The age range included hose in their twenties to those in their fifties. The gender was a mix of male and female, and the geographic location was both rural and city.
Almost all of these new business owners wanted to establish a ‘bricks and mortar’ business, hire employees, and contribute to their communities. They were budding entrepreneurs in the traditional sense.
Here Comes the New Kid
I tell this short story because traditionally that is generally how people viewed business development. A business meant a local grocery, furniture, or bookstore. It meant some form of industry where products were made, marketed, and sold. It meant a place where people went to purchase goods and services.
Then something happened. It was the development of the internet. A new breed of entrepreneurs began to emerge.
Don’t get me wrong here. “Bricks and mortar” types of businesses are here to stay, but they too are undergoing a transformational change and have an internet outreach. Many are hybrids where they serve both local customers and have outreached their products and services beyond their boarders.
Then there are companies that have understood the changing nature of the buying public and developed a massive internet presence like Amazon, eBay, Apple, and many others. Unfortunately, many large retail businesses didn’t adjust fast enough to meet the new emerging internet buyer phenomenon and have since closed their doors.
Now we are seeing a new kid on the block, the virtual solopreneur. Virtual solopreneurs don’t want a ‘bricks and mortar’ business they want an ‘internet marketing’ business where their community of customers come from communities scattered throughout the world rather than from their local marketplace. They operate from their laptop. They are affiliates of Amazon, software companies and businesses that have a strong internet presence. They write eBooks, training programs, and develop apps and software that make it easier for people to make “money-on-line.” They work primarily alone but the successful ones’ have a strong network of mentors and colleagues from around the world. Many have administrative support, some from their own family, others hail from other countries and are connected virtually with the solopreneur.
The past five years has seen an increase in the number of solopreneurs. The picture presented is like the “phoenix arising from the ashes.” People are adjusting to a new reality. Their place of work has changed dramatically and many no longer have jobs because their workplace went bankrupt or closed for other reasons. And in the past year they have been laid-off because of COVID-19 and have had time to think about their life and the virtual opportunities available to them.
Another reason why people are moving towards virtual solopreneurship relates to the workplace itself. To be sure there are those who claim that they do not fit within a structured work environment but increasingly there is an unsettling number emerging. They are those who have relationship difficulties with their boss or manager-minder.
Many businesses are struggling with how to lead and manage their workforce. Owners and managers continue to work within a command-and-control style rather than with the flexibility and employee engagement needed for today’s work environment. Most employees are rebelling against this by ‘striking out on their own’ and turning to the freedom that Internet Marketing offers.
But we are noticing a troubling problem. We are learning that just like those who wanted to start a business in the past where 35% failed and 85% succeeded with support, we are now witnessing a high percentage failure rate among virtual solopreneurs. That rate varies from 90% to 98%. A shocking statistic. The reason for that statistic is that people who want to get into the internet marketing business think it is easy. The sad truth is that it is not easy. The top 2% so called ‘Gurus” in the internet marketing world have taken years to get to that level.
The idea of starting an internet marketing business sounds sexy. It goes something like this: “I can work from home and make millions.” “I will be able to travel the world and provide financial freedom for me and my family.” “Just look at those who have made it, they are rich, and I’m going to become the same.”
So, just like those who struck out on their own to establish a ‘brick and mortar’ business and so often didn’t succeed, the virtual solopreneurs of today are falling into the same trap. They plunge into the virtual world without preparation, knowledge of what they are doing, and the discipline necessary to succeed. They start but don’t follow through with any action plan; they lack time management skills and have no real sense of purpose or strategic understanding about where they are going.
There was an old saying in our business, “It’s a simple business, but it isn’t easy.” This rings true for the virtual solopreneur. Unfortunately, they:
There is a neat Solopreneur package in our storefront that will give you more information about how to become a successful solopreneur. You can get a sense what it is all about by clicking the button below.
Oh yes, don't forget to scroll down to the bottom of that page and get your free eBook on personal branding.
Thank you for reading and remember your personal growth and development matters.
As always: Take Care. Stay Safe. Be Your Best Self.