Would you believe that 2016 was our very first year as a firm at Alexis Chateau PR? For the first 10 years of business, I was a freelance communications specialist working on my own as a solopreneur.
In 2006, this wasn’t a very popular route for women to take. But solopreneurship is becoming increasingly popular as new opportunities in the market turn freelance side-gigs into full careers. Men and women alike are attracted to the flexible schedules, and the satisfaction of being their own boss.
Even so the failure rates of startups are as high as ever. In fact, Forbes claims that 8 of every 10 businesses will never make it. Even worse, they’ll be wiped out of the market by the first 18 months.
So how do you ensure your solopreneurship gets off to a good start to boost the likelihood of success? Here’s what I learned along the way, and how you too, can beat the odds.
1. Identify ALL Skill Sets
When I first started freelancing full time, I branded myself as a writer instead of a publicist. This was despite my experience with blogging, social media, media relations, and branding strategy. It was some time before it finally dawned on me that I was losing the opportunity to tap into a larger market, by not marketing the rest of my skills.
Identify all your skillsets, and find the best way to brand them together under one heading. Once I did this, I went from writer, to content strategist, and then publicist to managing director.
2. Identify Your Niche
When most people start their own business, their first goal is to make as many sales as possible. This often comes with a desire to sell their products and services to anyone, anywhere, and (sometimes) anyhow.
However, this is a waste of time, energy, and money. The smaller a business (and a solopreneur is the smallest), the smaller the niche you should be targeting.
Find out what clients you are best poised to serve, and focus on them. This might include a specific size, industry, or location, and will depend on your experience, educational qualifications, location, and flexibility.
3. Find Clients
Once you’ve identified your niche and what you can provide, it’s time to start making sales by finding clients. This is the hardest part of any business, and is the primary reason that 80% of businesses ultimately fail.
To get clients, solopreneurs must get creative in how they look for, attract, and keep clients. This becomes easier when you identify your niche, as the next step would be to find out where they “hang out”, how to connect with them, and what kind of pitches will be most effective.
4. Provide High Quality Work
This step sounds easy enough, but this is where a lot of solopreneurs mess up, and send clients running in the direction of a firm. Solopreneurs often overbook the time they have available, and then find themselves unable to complete tasks on time. Providing late and rushed work is the quickest way to lose a client.
This is also when many solopreneurs realize they’re not cut out for working alone, or working at home with a toddler constantly demanding their attention. The honeymoon phase of solopreneurship quickly starts to die out, and we realize that it’s not all rum on the beach, and blogging in pyjamas in hotel rooms, after all.
The main downside of working for yourself is that you lose job security, and a steady paycheck. Some months will be surreal at how successful they are, and others will make you wonder why you ever thought “going into business with yourself” was a good idea.
To make the best of fast and famine and come out on top, solopreneurs must learn to budget well. If we spend all the money when we make thousands, what will we do in the months when we make hundreds, or perhaps no sales at all?
Always maintain a financial cushion, or the months of fast will not be enough to save your business from the months of famine.
Owning and running your business is no easy task, whether you go it alone, or with a team. But if you follow these five simple steps, you’re sure to start your new adventure on the right foot.
Need more hands-on coaching to assist with your business plans, finances, marketing and PR? Then shoot us an email. We believe every brand has a story. Let’s make yours an exceptional one.
About the Author
Alexis Chateau is the Founder and Managing Director at Alexis Chateau PR. She is an activist, writer, and explorer. Follow her stories of trial and triumph at www.alexischateau.com.