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Running a business is hard. Running a business by yourself is even harder.
When you’re doing things on your own, you’re responsible for everything. Every little aspect that goes into running a business is put on your shoulders.
This balancing act is tough, and it’s no wonder why so many new entrepreneurs don’t make it.
In this article, let’s look over some of the most important skills for solopreneurs to develop, if their goal is to eventually grow to massive levels.
Early on, it’s easy to get plagued by ‘shiny object syndrome.’
This is where you’re constantly shifting from opportunity to opportunity, because it seems exciting and promising.
Of course, it doesn’t help that shady marketers are constantly trying to sell you on their BS ‘step-by-step systems to riches.’
The problem with shiny object syndrome is that it’s constantly jerking your focus around.
It’s not that some of these systems don’t work, but that nobody sticks with them long enough to actually see results. You try them out, don’t get results quickly enough, and switch to the next shiny thing that gets put in front of you.
Don’t feel bad if you’ve been at this place – many people have.
Instead of jumping between shiny objects, focus on one thing. Preferably, a business model that is:
- Proven to work.
- Proven to scale.
- You’re in control over (not reliant on one platform or company for survival.)
- You have something unique to offer.
- You enjoy the process of developing it.
Find what that business model is, and go all-in on it. This is the only way to see it through to profitability.
2. Content Creation
Content marketing is perhaps the most powerful way to grow your business online, and is only becoming more important as time goes on.
Get good at one of the three content mediums – written word (such as blogging), audio (podcasts), or video.
Not everybody will be comfortable with all three platforms, and that’s fine.
For example, I’m not too great at video yet. However, I’m able to hit all three platforms by using my blog posts as scripts for a podcast, turning the main points into slides, and combining the slides with the audio to form a YouTube video.
As more and more companies compete for the same attention of consumers, getting in front of them regularly with content that is actually valuable to them, will become increasingly important.
3. Analytical Thinking
The best marketers know how to work with data.
Data is undervalued by solopreneurs, and you need to learn how to analyze it, run data-driven tests, and optimize your pages.
On the most fundamental level, this means installing data collection tools like Google Analytics on your site, and heatmapping your sales pages.
You need to be tracking how you’re investing your resources (be it time or money) and understand what’s actually delivering an ROI.
One of the biggest mistakes solopreneurs make is this – they spend too much time on things that aren’t moving the needle, and they don’t repeat the things that work.
You don’t need to become a data scientist, to make use of data. At the same time, if you fail to utilize it, your business won’t be nearly as effective as it could be.
Remember – businesses do not run on emotions! They run on reality. And the reality is represented in your data.
At the end of the day, you’re in business to make money.
It doesn’t matter how much attention, Instagram likes, or engagement you get – if its not turning into a transaction, your business will die.
Copywriting could actually be rephrased as any form of sales skills – it’s just a different platform.
If you’re able to sell in person, it’s not difficult to write that down and adjust it for web, video, etc.
Still, copywriting is both an art and a science that is difficult to master.
You need to learn the psychological triggers that entice people to buy, eliminating their objections and concerns, all while doing it in a carefully crafted way.
This is a skill I’m looking to improve at myself this year, utilizing the data I collect on my own sales pages.
Combine great copywriting skills with good analytical skills, and you’ve got yourself a great foundation for dabbing into pay-per-click advertising. (PPC)
Mastering pay-per-click is one of the quickest ways to scale a company and if you figure this one out, you’re set.
Craft a profitable ad that takes in $1 and spits out $2, and you can grow your earnings extremely quickly – all while getting paid to give exposure to your brand.
The problem is that it’s rare that you can throw up an ad and forget about it.
Even ads that start out doing well, do not always stay profitable forever.
Therefore, you need strong copywriting and analytical skills to figure out how to craft ads that convert, as well as learn what works in certain conditions and what doesn’t.
PPC is an enormous topic and is constantly evolving. What works today might not work as well this time next year, so it’s a skill that constantly needs to be developed.
Still, master it and you’ll have practically won the game – at least for now. Learning to develop profitable pay-per-click is the only reason I was able to develop my two eCommerce brands to their first $1 million in sales.
6. Office And Media Software
Because you’re a solopreneur, you can’t always afford to hire people knowledgeable in the software you need to run your business.
I highly recommend taking the time to learn some of the following software:
- Microsoft Word
- Microsoft PowerPoint
- Microsoft Excel (especially this one!)
- Adobe Photoshop (or GIMP, a free alternative)
- Adobe Premiere Pro
- Quickbooks, Xero, or other bookkeeping software.
There are others, but most businesses will need to utilize these tools.
I highly recommend picking up a $10 Udemy course on each piece of software you use regularly in your business.
Each piece of software listed is extremely powerful, and chances are, you’re not utilizing it to its full potential.
If you’re anything like me, you don’t even know what you’re missing!
I grabbed a course on Excel for $10, and it easily provided me an extra value of $10,000 due to how much time I was able to save after learning about some of the more advanced features.
They say it’s not what you know, but who you know.
I’m not sure if that’s true, but I do know this – connecting with other people is the quickest way to bring your business to new heights, and is matched only by well-performing PPC campaigns.
What’s great about networking however is that it brings you opportunities that money can’t buy you. Often times, these opportunities present themselves in unforeseen ways.
But to use a money example…
I regularly import goods from China. I had a friend who wanted to get into importing one of the same product lines that I regularly manufacture.
Instead of having them go through the whole process, I collected money from them and placed a bigger order from the same factory I already use, which brought us two benefits:
- We both got cheaper prices / unit, because I was able to negotiate better terms due to the increased order size.
- Shipping per unit was much cheaper.
Most of the pieces in the order were mine, so I netted the largest amount of savings overall, but my friend did not have to spend weeks dealing with a new factory. It was a win-win for the both of us!
Nothing mentioned in this article so far matters if you’re unable to stay consistent.
Consistency, even moreso than outright knowledge or skill is a valuable trait all successful entrepreneurs share.
You need to be willing to show up for work, give it your all, and continue training yourself for a lifetime.
I started my first blog at the age of 14, and it failed. But I was consistent. Despite making no money, I was consistent.
I was gaining value, it just wasn’t in the form of dollars just yet. I was learning what worked, and what didn’t. What I was good at, and what I wasn’t. What I enjoyed, and what I didn’t.
The hardest part of any entrepreneurial endeavor is the beginning. It is the part where you’re doing the most amount of work for the least amount of reward.
If you’re going to make it, you’re going to have to be consistent.
This doesn’t mean chugging away at something that isn’t bringing results, but it does mean that you have to have patience, and keep pushing day in and day out.
You may wonder what delegation is doing on a skills list for solopreneurs, but hear me out.
Even if you don’t have any full-time employees, you need to break out of the mindset that you’re going to do everything yourself.
That’s just stupid. No great business has ever been built without the help of others.
Being small is not something to be proud of. Sorry to say it, but it’s true. I don’t want you to be small.
If you’re able to outsource something for $20 that would’ve taken you 5 hours to do on your own, you’re valuing your time at $4 an hour. If that’s the case, work on your business less and go get a job, using that money to build your business.
Letting go of control is difficult – most people that start out on their own have a very difficult time with it. However, it’s imperative – you’re going to need to come to grips with it.
Put a price on your time. If you’re working a job, calculate your hourly rate, and that is your price.
Once you have the resources to do so, focus on the tasks that you’re actually required for, and outsource everything else that can be done for lower than your price.
Finally, all entrepreneurs need to make continuous self-growth and self-improvement mandatory.
The world is changing faster than ever, and you need to make sure you are on top of things if you want to stay relevant in the marketplace.
Learning is never something you’re done with. It’s ridiculous that kids are expected to go to school and learn new things every day, but once you reach adulthood that stops.
Set aside time each week to stay up-to-date with what’s going on and pick up new skills.
Let Me Make This Easy For You
1. All of my new articles are going to be published as an audio blog, meaning you can subscribe to it and listen to my articles while you shower, drive, exercise, etc. Audio makes it so much easier to consume content because you can do it while also doing something else. If you don’t have time to visit my site here every week, search for ‘James McAllister Online’ on your favorite podcast platform and subscribe!
2. Likewise, if you’re having trouble reading books, pick up an Audible subscription. I’m signed up to the 2 book a month plan, and buy more when I need something to listen to. I believe most people could read at least 2 books a month this way, without having to ‘spend time reading.’
3. Enroll in my courses! They cover huge topics like blogging, email marketing, and more in comprehensive detail and are always kept up to date. This means you’re not going to need to waste time and money on other outdated materials on the same topics. The prices are stupidly low and if you learn even one thing from each one that you can apply to your business, it’ll have paid for itself many times over.
Part of what makes entrepreneurship so difficult is the fact that it’s such an enormous learning process.
By focusing on the right things, you make your job so much easier.
I hope that this article has given you some ideas on how you can begin developing the skills necessary to take your business to the next level. I’d love to hear your plans, and if there’s anything I can do to aid in your growth, don’t hesitate to reach out.
To your success,
– James McAllister
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