Everyone is trying to get a side hustle, passive income or business started these days. And it makes sense. Inflation hit its highest level in 10 years. So if you’re looking at going it alone, we’ve got some tips on how to be a successful solopreneur.
1. Network with other freelancers
It doesn’t hurt to have a tribe. Networking is an effective way to generate business and referrals. Think about other freelancers who do work that’s adjacent to your own field and get connected! For a copywriter, for example, that might mean meeting web developers, marketing managers and brand strategists. Find people in those fields who do work you’re willing to recommend and create your own preferred supplier list to increase each other’s profile.
2. Set a strategy and a plan, and stick to it
Whatever your solopreneur business is, you need to have a plan. It might be something simple like:
- Join a gig-economy website.
- Get a stable of clients.
- Create your own personal website.
- Spin-off clients there to reduce your overheads.
- Advertise your personal website.
- Close the gig-economy profile.
- Form an LLC.
- Hire some juniors.
You might do these steps over a matter of months or years, but the key is that you have a plan and you’re following it. You’re not just letting the winds of change take you for a ride. You’ve got a growth trajectory.
3. Manage cashflow tightly
What isn’t making you money is probably costing you money. You’ll find that you don’t need every tool, SaaS or hardware right away to get started. Sure, a dual-monitor setup would be nice, but will it really pay off RIGHT NOW with the client-load you have? Probably not. Limit meetings where you’re not being paid, turn off any subscriptions you don’t need and try free software platforms like the Google suite to keep your operating costs down while you establish yourself. According to Inc, “There are thousands of companies with millions of software products targeted at business owners. These software products can help your business perform new functions, operate more efficiently, and increase profitability–but each new product you add to your suite of products is going to cost you a monthly subscription fee. If you aren’t careful, you’ll end up with far too many products that aren’t helping your business, costing you thousands of dollars per month.”
4. Find cost-effective platforms to find work
Not every gig economy platform out there will be the right one for you. Some charge the buyer and the seller both large fees. Some are barely generating any web traffic. And some have very restrictive rules about who actually ‘owns’ that client relationship. You may want to think outside of the box for less transactional platforms that can still create valuable introductions to clients for your solo gig. Don’t feel married to one platform either. If you join and it’s not servicing your needs; join another.
5. Choose a niche to grow your reputation and expertise
You probably have a lot of skills. And it can seem hard to pick where you’d specialise right away. Let’s take a Head of Marketing. They probably know how to write, do social media, create a strategy, take out ads, manage designers, manage web devs, do some coding and so on. But that’s too many skills to effectively market as a solopreneur. So, you should focus on one sub-discipline – say social media marketing – and acquire all clients who need that skill. That makes it easier to target and price your services. And as you grow and establish yourself, you can add more skills to the mix.
6. Make sure you understand what the client is expecting
Once you have a menu of skills you’re going to sell, it’s time to get clients. But how can you make them happy if they’re not clear what they’ll get for their money? (You can’t.) So, sort your skills into packages and be clear about what is included. How many hours of your time does it cover? What output will they get? And how many revisions are included? These are just some of the things you’ll want to account for in your package descriptions. Oh, and ask your client if they have any further questions before you get started. That way, there’s a record of your willingness to explain further.