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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.
The opposite may also be true – you may doubt that what you’re doing is actually the correct thing, causing you to jump to something else when results don’t come quickly enough.
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
It doesn’t matter what business you decide to enter into, all businesses need content.
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.
Click here to learn more about developing an effective content strategy.
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.
These are two of the biggest mistakes that solopreneurs make – 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.
Tip: Notes from all of the major copywriting books are available inside of my VIP club.
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 more so 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.
I’ve put together a course on outsourcing to the Philippines, which you can learn about by clicking here.
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.
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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
Review the main points of this article in the SlideShare below. Feel free to embed this on your site, use it in your organization, and share it with others! All I ask is that you give credit! (Download links are available from SlideShare’s website, which you can access by clicking the LinkedIn icon)
These are all so important attributes that I focus on for myself, and also for my blogging students and clients.
People rush to action, then quickly fall off the cliff.
And I think delegating and outsourcing are things that would really help most folks stay in the game instead of getting overwhelmed.
You’ve give a world of great advice and direction for all entrepreneurs here.
Donna Merrill recently posted…How to build a hyper targeted email list with your blog
Isn’t that the truth – I went back to a lot of the old commenters on my site here and sadly a huge chunk of them are no longer part of the blogging world it seems. When I began warming up my list again I also received a number of emails explaining why they stopped and what some of my old community is up to now. Many rushed in, weren’t able to stick with it as much as they thought they would, and backed out.
I was the same way I suppose, I’m much more careful with the projects I start now. The only reason I could begin blogging again is because of the team I was able to build up over these past couple of years taking off the majority of the workload. If I would’ve kept going way back then.. one of the two companies would have suffered a terrible fate for sure.
James McAllister recently posted…James McAllister Online
You presented some epic tips here. Typically, an entrepreneur must learn how to it will allow you to build a bond that will set you up for the long run. As you noted in your article, it was due to your networking activities that enables you to develop a relationship that led to your connection giving you money for importation from China.
It also pays to be consistent across channels as it will help you to build trust with your target audience.
I think people underestimate the power of networking, and I just had to include it here. I like to approach every person I meet as if I have something that I can learn from them. Everything good that has ever come to me in my life, I owe to another person.
I agree with the consistency across channels as well, it’s important for people to know that you stand behind what you say and this helps a lot with branding as well.
Always great talking with you Moss!
James McAllister recently posted…Future-Proof Your Business Before It’s Too Late With These 8 Strategies
Great post – and you’ve picked up on some of my weaknesses too.
I really enjoy blogging and creating content, but video is way outside my comfort zone.
I’m also a bit of a control freak so I find it quite hard to delegate. But the maths really make sense.
Funny you mention Xero – I’m just thinking of starting to use that in my offline business. We have this wretched thing called “Making Tax Digital” in the UK, so I need to get to grips with that,
I’ll confess I haven’t been as consistent as I should have been over the last year, due to a move from London to Norwich, but I’m settling back into a routine again and picking up some old and long established programs that have stood the test of time.
Really glad to see you back again too.
Joy Healey – Blogging After Dark
Joy Healey recently posted…How To Test A Mobile App For Your Business
Hi Joy! Always happy to see you here.
As much as I think video is going to grow in power going forward, you can still do very well without it. Delegation however, I am going to try to encourage you to embrace going forward 😉 Actually, I am working on a product that is helping with this at the moment, and has a section completely dedicated towards helping people become comfortable with it. It really is a common issue people have that stops people from going forward, but delegation, hiring, however you want to look at it, allows you to scale so much more quickly.
Xero is great, I actually preferred its general layout over Quickbooks Online – although I am using Bench.co to do the majority of my bookkeeping right now. I pay a monthly fee and they handle everything, usually only need to speak with them once every few months. I’m not sure if they work with UK companies but if you ever happen to know anybody interested in a service like that, could you send them my way? Their affiliate program is pretty generous and gives a discount to the new customer too. Not that I signed up for their service for the promotion opportunity or anything like that, but I wanted to mention it since it’s something I use and gain value from.
I’m really glad to hear things are picking up for you and I look forward to what’s to come!
James McAllister recently posted…Branding Isn’t Everything – Balancing Branding Vs. Direct Response Advertising
I also notice your audio feature in every blog post that you publish. You voice is beautiful I guest that stand your uniqueness in blogging. Great article James!
Hi Paul, thanks so much! I really appreciate that. I wanted to include a voice option so people short on time can consume the content while also doing something else – it seems to be working out well so far!
Always a pleasure to see you here, thanks again!
James McAllister recently posted…Branding Isn’t Everything – Balancing Branding Vs. Direct Response Advertising