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How to Succeed as a Solopreneur

You want to quit your job and go into business for yourself. Or maybe you’ve been a stay at home parent for a while and you want to start a home-based business now that your kids are in school. Or perhaps you just want to earn some extra money for your family. So you come up with a great idea and decide to go into business for yourself.

You have passion. You have an idea! You have skill. You have talent. People have told you that you can do it, that THEY would buy your “stuff.”

But is a great idea and talent enough to succeed as a solopreneur?

If you have a vision of yourself falling out of bed, grabbing some coffee, making your way to your computer in your slippers, checking your email and counting all the money that’s rolling in … well let’s hold on a minute and see what it really takes to succeed in business all by yourself.

Your first checklist:

  • Talent or skill in your chosen field. Check.
  • Passion and drive. You really WANT to do this. Check.
  • There’s a market for this. People WANT to buy what you’re selling. Check.

That first checklist is super important because without each of those items checked, you are doomed to fail. But talent, passion, and a market are not enough to succeed. There is much more that needs to happen.

I’ve seen it time and again.

“I’ll start a blog. Other people make money blogging. I will too.”

“I’m great at quilting. I’ll sell my quilts online.”

“I’ve been programming for this company for a decade. I could do this on my own and make all the money instead of just getting a small portion for my work.”

To succeed as a solopreneur, you must be able to effectively and successfully run all aspects of your business.

You might be great at writing, but do you know how to program?

You might be the best quilter in your sewing circle, but do you know how to ship heavy products around the world?

You might be the world’s greatest programmer, but can you handle the accounting associated with your new business?

When you work by yourself, for yourself, you have to wear many hats. It’s not just about your talent. It’s not just about your drive. You need to be good at everything or you will likely fail.

To use an analogy, you might be really good at picking curtains and paint, but that doesn’t mean you can build a house.

To succeed in running your own business you must be good at:

Planning and Strategizing
What will you offer? To whom? At what price? When? How long will it take to launch your business? Who is your demographic? How will you reach them? Will you ever have employees or will you be able to handle business growth on your own for years? Do you intend to do this for the rest of your life, or sell your company after you’ve made it a huge success? The more you can figure out now, the better your trajectory will be, and the easier it will be to make decisions because they will be aligned with your long term goals.

You have to create a service or product that works, and works well. This is likely what drew you to the idea in the first place so most people do fairly well with this piece. But if you’re wanting to invent something new, you need to figure out how to get it manufactured.

Sales, Marketing, and Advertising
Your product or service won’t just magically sell. You have to learn how to write good sales copy and you have to figure out where and how to market your business. Will you pay to advertise or use word of mouth? Will you create a Facebook fan page or your own website? Will you market on your own site or on other people’s?

You need to connect with other people in some way, shape or form. Either because you want or need them to sell your product or service when it’s ready, or because you want advice from others in the same field, or because you want to capitalize on opportunities to expand. So get ready to be social and ask for help.

In this day and age you will more than likely need a website for your company. Do you know how to create one? If you don’t, you need to learn, otherwise you’ll be paying someone to do it for you. If you’ve got the cash, great. But if you’re just starting out, you’ll need to learn how to manage a site including getting it hosted and setting up a merchant account and some form of shopping cart.

You’ll have to manage and pay your own taxes. Sure, you can outsource this to an accountant, but that also costs money, and you still need to give your accountant accurate and complete information. So learn how to get your own business account, keep track of sales, pay your bills on time, and see where your money is coming and going.

Social Media
You’ll need to learn to master Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and a host of other social media outlets. If you don’t, you’ll be left behind.

Learning and Growing
You’ll need to stay abreast of what’s happening in your field. Is a competitor coming along who can take your market? Does your site need an upgrade? Is there a new way of shipping that could save you money? How do other people in your field save money? What are the upcoming trends? Do you need a fan page or just subscribers? Do you know how to make an audio program? Is your ebook compatible with Kindle? Do you have the latest equipment? Is there someone new out there who could help you? Is there a new company you could be doing business with? If you don’t continually learn and grow, you will eventually be left behind, outdated, used up, worthless. You don’t want that.

Other Things You’ll Need
You’ll need patience, because sometimes it will feel like you’ve worked super hard and have received nothing in return. Just keep going.

You’ll need to manage stress, because money will come in sporadically and unpredictably, and you’ll need to ride out the dry days or weeks or even months.

You’ll need a savings, because no matter how little you think it will cost you to get going, it will always cost more than you think it will. And you’ll need some savings to live off of while you’re creating your business.

You’ll need a sense of humor, because some days it will appear as if everything is against you and all you can do is smile and roll with the punches.

You’ll need discipline, because it’s just you, baby. If you don’t do it, it doesn’t get done. And if it doesn’t get done, you’re dead in the water. You don’t get paid. If you think you can work 3 hours a day and succeed before you run out of money, you’re dreaming. In the beginning, you’ll work very long hours. Still excited? Excellent.

Are you ready?

Working for yourself is powerful. It’s flexible. There is great freedom in it. But if you think you can take your talent and build an entire business by having mastered one aspect of it, you’ll soon find the house crumbling down around you. Oh the paint and the curtains will still look great, but they’ll be sitting atop a pile of bricks and cement.

Before you go solo, be sure you have everything you need, and be sure you’re willing to do everything and a wee bit more to ensure your success!

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