Oftentimes, the stereotype of the solopreneur is like that of the starving artist. You’re eking out a living, existing on ramen and chips. Sounds familiar, right? You’re interested in making an impact now—otherwise, you wouldn’t be reading this. Take advantage of your unique position as a solopreneur, use the right tools, network and leverage your entrepreneurial assets.
Your brand, your unique position
Your brand is more than just your name, logo and the colors you choose. Your brand is your unique style; it’s every aspect of how you represent yourself to your audience. There is no one else exactly like you. As a solopreneur, you have the advantage of being able to use your distinct personality and experiences to inform your brand.
Start with the following best practices for building your brand:
- Concentrate on experiences. Each time a potential or existing client comes in contact with your brand, it’s an experience. Think hard about the wording and images you’ll use anytime you’re going to represent your brand.
- Be consistent. On your website, social media, in person, and anywhere else you represent your brand, you’ll be delivering messages. Think ahead about the tone of your messages and what you want to them to convey. Be consistent with your delivery.
- Develop and curate supportive content. You’ll absolutely want a blog to support your brand, with posts that pair directly with your vision. Include your blog posts in any social media activity. Look for like-minded and supportive content from great bloggers and authors. Follow them, include their posts in your social media feed, and reach out to them for guest posts. Try guest posting on their sites and ask them to guest post on yours.
- Be different. Showcase your uniqueness by taking risks. Start a podcast, develop videos for YouTube and other social media channels, partner with artists and poets, self-publish books, sponsor events that align with your values—look for things your competitors aren’t doing and do them.
- Enlist ambassadors. One simple way to create brand ambassadors is to ask for guest posts on your blog, and make sure the posts support your brand values. Also, ask clients to review you online.
Distinguish yourself from your competitors. Again, take risks; people won’t be able to tell you’re unique unless you put yourself out there.The brands that truly succeed create visibility. Build your brand tirelessly and people will pay more attention to you than they do your competitors.
The right tools
You want to be able to build your brand and become a thought leader in your industry. But how will you be able to do that if you’re spending all your time and energy on the nuts and bolts of running your business? Use tools to help run the business and save money at the same time.
- Marketing automation. If you don’t automate your marketing, you’ll have to do everything manually, including putting up social media posts and blog posts, doing search engine optimization, sending emails and so much more. These aren’t a cure-all, but take a look at the marketing automation tools that are available. You’re still going to have to be the brains behind your marketing campaigns, but software makes executing a campaign a whole lot easier.
- Invoice software. Filling out and sending invoices to clients individually takes time that you could be spending building your brand. As with almost every aspect of modern business, you could use software to solve this problem. Invoice software lets you customize invoices based on your brand’s colors, logo and fonts. You can create and send invoices from your smartphone, and you can automate recurring invoices for clients with whom you have ongoing business. Also, you won’t be repeatedly entering information in fields, because the software does that automatically.
- Mileage tracking software. You can write off business miles on your taxes, but who wants to manually track their miles, log them and report them when the time comes? Mileage tracking software does the work for you. It’s a great idea to meet with clients face-to-face, but don’t spend more money than you should on the trip to get there.
The right people
It’s pretty much impossible to overstate the difference networking makes. Build a great network, and business will come your way. But how do you do it? Rutgers University offers these networking tips to help you get started:
- Be helpful: Follow the golden rule of networking: help others in their endeavors, be kind and do favors. Then, keep in touch with those you help. The individuals you want to associate with will understand reciprocity.
- Be steady: Whatever you want to call it, dependability, consistency, grit — show people you can stay the course and cultivate an image that reflects your implacable commitment to your passion.
- Be authentic: Don’t connect for the sake of connecting and because the connection can benefit you. Make connections based on your honest interest in who that person is and what they are doing.
- Be candid: Sugarcoating your communications doesn’t work. Honesty, sincerity and forthright communication are the hallmarks of a great communicator.
- Be attentive: Pay careful and close attention to what others say, and don’t waste words. The more you talk, the less perspective you gain from the other person. Find out about others’ personal interests and passions that drive their business pursuits.
These tips readily apply to social media networking, as well. If you’re networking correctly, you’re actively communicating with people both online and off. The ultimate goal is simply to get to know people. Make the deepest connections with those who share your passion, grit and ethics.
The right decisions with your assets
In the Small Biz Ahead guide to protecting business income, The Hartford identifies three kinds of assets:
- Tangible assets: All things you own that go toward your business. As a solopreneur, there are plenty of personal items (laptop, tablet, car, phone, etc.) that are also your tangible business assets.
- Intangibles: According to The Hartford, these include “reputation, intellectual property, strategic partnerships and data.”
- People: As a solopreneur, you are your own asset.
Start by working on yourself. After all, you’re building the acumen you need to succeed.
Next, think about ways you can invest your tangible and intangible assets into improving your business. Can you streamline and sell any of your tangible assets, data or intellectual property? You could use the money to improve marketing and branding or you could buy more advanced tools. Are there any idle or underused assets that could prove helpful in ramping up your operations?
Analyzing your assets and strategizing with them is like cleaning up your computer’s hard drive. Think of what you do and don’t need, and how you can best put your indispensable assets to work for your business.
In conclusion, succeeding as a solopreneur is about maximizing your brand potential, using the right tools, networking and leveraging your assets. What can you offer to your audience that’s different and better than your competitors? How can you use tools to reach a wider audience while saving time and money? Master your branding, harness technology, talk to people, strategize and you’re well on your way to making great money.