In the first article in this series, I talked about five tips to help your business take off and they all begin with YOU.
So, too, for the established enterprise and in particular, for one person operations, or solopreneurs. I spent more than three decades as a solo provider of marketing and advertising services and there’s one thing that is applicable to most solo operations and that is, YOUR ABILITY TO MULTI-TASK.
I’m speaking about more than just wearing different hats. In today’s warp-speed business environment, you will have to do several things and do them very well and in a timely manner.
Let’s do an overview of these five essential jobs;
1. Primary Source of Your Core Business– Whether you are a free lance designer, independent sales rep, solo professional practitioner, interior designer or handyman, you must keep you core skills up-to-date and efficient. It’s easy to get lost in the mechanicals of launching and running a profitable business. Just don’t forgot what got you there. We witness this mistake regularly when large corporations diversify too far and pay less attention to innovation and quality control in the core offerings. Remember, as a solo enterpriser, your skills are the “products” that your “factory” makes and they have to be consistently outstanding.
2. Marketing Manager – Creating leads is essential. Whether you use social media, email blasts, traditional print or broadcast advertising, it’s essential that you –– as the solo enterpriser–– learn to understand your medium(s) of choice and how to create attractive content. Learn how to write persuasive copy for your posts, ads and videos. The age of DIY marketing is here and there is no need to be shy about doing your own video post, or writing an ad for your business. Study and learn: Check out what other small businesses are doing, use their work as a template or guide, and then craft your own messages.
3. Lead Sales Person – No matter how great your solo services are, there is no business or professional practice without sales. In my experience as a self employment and business consultant, I found that this is one area with which many solos struggle. It’s going to be your job to take the leads you get from marketing and convert them to sales.For a lot of people, the thought of direct sales if terrifying. Take heart, there are ways to make the process easier. For example:
• Arrange to showcase your services by giving an educational seminar.
• Make it clear to your prospect that you would like to give a formal presentation. The structure makes some people feel more confident.
• If you’re more of a personality-centric sales person, than presenting over lunch, golf or other social function may better suit you.
In short, choose your battlefield and you will be more confident in your sales efforts.
4. Operations Officer & Logistics Manager – For all intents and purposes, the principle in a solo enterprise of also the Chief Operations Officer. If yours is a service enterprise, then the focus of your efforts is going to be on the following:
• Follow sales patterns, growth and non-growth periods and making adjustments.
• Keep an eye on the competition. Make sure you’re positioned competitively in terms of offering optimal value for dollars spent. This means checking your pricing and service offerings against the competition on a regular basis.
• Customer satisfaction. There is a lot “satisfaction surveying” going on every where we go today. Little of it, from my experience seems, to generate much in the way of service. Those organizations who make outstanding service a part of their culture, do it all day, every day.
5. Finance Manager – Being a solopreneur also means learning a thing or two about business finance. I cannot provide you with a comprehensive course in business accounting in this blog, but here is some advice I can give as a guy who made it through more than 37 years operating completely solo.
• Understand what “Cash Flow” means and make sure to check it daily, really twice daily. That it is to say, your need to have the right amount of money in the right places at the right times.
• Establish relations with a bank, preferably a local or regional one in which the personnel changes will likely be fewer. Let this person get to know you and your business. When the time is right, get an unsecured (or secured, if necessary) for your business. You’re most likely going to need it.
• Stay up with collections. I know first hand that it’s very hard to ask a good client for money that it owed you, but you must develop a way to handle this.
So, you’re probably thinking right now, this is great, but how do I acquire all this knowledge? Well, some of it might come from education or previous experience. However, if you don’t have schooling in marketing, sales, logistics and accounting , or your lacking experience in these areas, then it comes down to plain ‘ole on the job learning.
I guess the latter adds another job to functions to learn as a solo enterpriser.