You're not "lost", but you feel directionless at times.
Whether or not you'd consider yourself a prepared person—preparation and information are the 2 biggies separating you from a goal-achieving, successful business.
Right now you may have a new business, a struggling one, you're getting prepared, or you're tossing around the idea of starting a solo gig—but here's the deal:
You'll go nowhere without niche-specific information and preparation.
But don't fret over those brooding words just yet.
They're only as distant as you let them be.
And that's what this post is for—to bring you some perspective on those quasi-intimidating little entrepreneurial necessities.
Tackle them hard with my 8 keys to planning your powerful solo entrepreneur business.
KEY 1. What's The Point?
Harsh, but seriously...
What's the point in starting or having your own business?
There's no such thing as a solopreneur who wants to start and grow a successful business, and get to spend "extra time with family and friends" or "make tons of money while you sleep".
That's [mostly] bullshit.
You're always hustling.
Whether you're in a primarily client-based business or customer-based, there's always something to do, someone to please, something to shuffle, and something to improve upon.
(But that's a part of the attraction to entrepreneurship, isn't it? Because it's your something...)
So, when shit hits the fan, what's to keep you from bailing on your sweet-baby business?
A goal so powerful (to you) that it makes you keep pushing forward.
A goal that's bigger than you are—others may need you to achieve that goal.
A goal that's fueled by more than just your own self-interest.
And that's where to start—at the goal.
KEY 2. Can You Achieve Your Goal "Alone"?
Depending on whether you want your business to stay solo or grow into a team of people—you should have an idea about that beforehand.
Some businesses go in wanting to stay solo and wind up with a handful of employees.
Outgrowing your current or future business model isn't a bad thing.
...But being prepared for the potential of overgrowth is a smarter start than, "Oh shit! I've got to hire someone today to finish this project that... was due yesterday..."
So, with the goal you lay out: Is it feasible to stay a one [wo]man show?
Do you want to?
I've found that I prefer to work alone. To "stay small" as an solopreneur.
I have an assistant (there are also virtual assistants if you're looking for help with the small stuff), but all inner workings are done by me.
And I like it that way.
You may find you prefer to have a partner.
(That's another beauty of owning your own business, right? You have the choice.)
KEY 3. What Kind Of Obstacles And Responsibilities Can You Expect?
I tried to be gentle with that phrasing but, straight up:
What's going to hold you back or slow you down?
Lack of funds?
Lack of support?
No experience in the field you want to enter?
Lack of tools?
Much like most entrepreneurs, before I was able to stand on my own 2 feet in business, I needed to borrow family funds to get started.
The MacBook Pro, the business website that supported eCommerce, the email service, and on and on.
And as I grew, the expenditures did too.
Childcare expenses, social media automation expenses, upgrading the tech, apps, and so on.
When you're planning for your business—whether you're starting from scratch or you've just decided to build your functioning system—brainstorm a list of everything you can expect to pay for.
Then, hop onto a Google Search and look up how much each service or tool costs—on average.
PRO TIP: Round up.
Then, search for "what do I need to start 'X' business".
(Replace "X" with your niche.)
That search may not generate as much—if any—results, however, it's worth a shot.
When all that's tallied, factor...
KEY 4. Will It Fly?
And here's where you can start chipping away at the guess-work of whether or not your idea, venture, project, or business [refresh] has any staying power.
"Will It Fly?" is a solid, foundation-laying book for entrepreneurs at almost any level in business. *Affiliate link*
SIDE NOTE: The author—Pat Flynn of SmartPassiveIncome.com—is my "online idol".
Not because of his paycheck every month, but because of his professional views, family-centric approach to business, and what he teaches his abundant community.
(I told you he was my idol.)
"Will It Fly?" is a resource I'd recommend to anyone. Not just entrepreneurs.
Add it to your list of necessary educational materials, then...
KEY 5. Brainstorm All The Necessities
No, this isn't the same thing I just said for obstacles and responsibilities.
Sure, you can add in your tools here, but this part includes necessities like:
Education—what more do you need to learn to make your venture a successful one? How much will it cost (if anything)? Is a degree necessary? If so, what kind, and how quickly and effectively can you obtain it?
Help—will your young children need childcare? Will you need that virtual assistant (VA)? A real-life, in-office assistant?
Space—will you need an office? In or outside of the home? What all will you need for the space—furnishings, tools?
Did I leave anything out that you know you'll need?
Each industry and niche are different. I may not need the same things you do or vice versa.
Eliminate what you don't need and add what you do.
SUGGESTED: What's the focus of your business?
KEY 6. Research, Research, Then Research Again
Oh, beloved research...
I know not everyone enjoys scavenging for knowledge, however, I feed off of it.
(Maybe that's why I enjoyed coaching so much... It's all about the problem-solving.)
Knowing WHAT you do, HOW you're going to do it, and WHY you're going to do it are the top 3 "must-knows" for anyone considering a business venture of any kind.
Whether you're fueled by money (probably not your primary desire if you're a regular reader of mine) or fueled by a passion for your work and/or for the people you help, your initial research can lay the foundation of your business.
Without the research, your foundation will have lots of cracks. Cracks that may not present themselves until later, but cracks that will one day rupture.
So, scope out your niche competitors.
Dig deep through their audiences—see what they like and what they don't.
Your direct competitors' audiences are the people you want as your own, too.
Also, make sure to research any suggested or known tools you need.
BUDGETING EXAMPLE: Can you get away with using a Macbook Air to start? Then, when the money is coming in, you can upgrade to the Pro.
As someone with an impulsive buying habit (or buying sooner than I need to), I can tell you that saving money is a huge part of your initial success.
For example, I'd screwed up big when investing a ton of money into inventory with a direct sales business.
So, when I started GoffDesigns (now Goff Creative), I learned my lesson from that substantial debt and "got smarter" with money and investing.
TIP FOR NETWORK MARKETERS:
Most of what I was coached to invest in never sold.
I didn't know enough about the business before putting money into it.
(My bad. My [costly] bad.)
When I got out I ended up having to take a 40% loss on the inventory I'd invested in, but that's a whole different story...
Research what you want to do.
Research how you're going to do it.
And know, deep down to your core why you're going to do it.
Because if you don't know, you may wind up in a heap of debt and a failed business to boot.
SUGGESTED: The Content Planning 90-Minute Workshop
KEY 7. Make A [Lean Canvas] Business Plan
Depending on your business model, you can go one of 2 ways:
A full Business Plan—50 pages or less. According to Investopia.com, a business plan is a written document that describes in detail how a new business is going to achieve it's goals. A business plan will lay out a written plan from a financial and operational viewpoint.
A Lean Canvas Plan—according to Canvanizer.com, a lean canvas is an adaptation of [the] Business Model Canvas by Alexander Osterwalder which Ash Maurya created in the Lean Startup spirit (Fast, Concise and Effective startup). Lean Canvas promises an actionable and entrepreneur-focused business plan. It focuses on problems, solutions, key metrics, and competitive advantages.
So, to sum it up, a lean canvas is great for a solopreneur—the starting entrepreneur who doesn't necessarily need external funding, and is focused on finding a problem your audience (or potential audience) has, and providing a solution for it.
The traditional business plan is a constructive analysis that's more focused on your business infrastructure in details.
(I wrote a detailed post on creating a lean canvas for a solopreneur business model so check that out for more information.)
And for a direct scope on how to put together a traditional business plan, Bplans has a simple article on just that.
Either way, you need a plan.
And after your plan is laid out, it's time to...
KEY 8. Put Your Systems Together
Now that you've got everything out and down, there's only one place left to focus on.
With a solid maintenance system, you're more likely to progress at a natural pace with minimal low points. As opposed to a roller coaster of results (depending on your niche).
So, what systems do you need to organize to maintain a steady growth plan?
Over the past couple years I've written quite a few detailed and step-by-step posts on maintaining your systems.
Here's a collection of time management and organization posts to help you lay out your other systems:
So, what's the point?
Why do you want to enter into or reboot your business in the grueling world of entrepreneurship?
You're going to be beaten down, bloodied, dragged through the mud, and get back up just to be beaten down again.
What makes your venture so worth the potential debt, humiliation, family upset, and pain?
Harsh, again. I know.
But, when you're a true entrepreneur, you don't mind the fight.
You don't mind the hustle or the broken heart, head, and body.
Because you know that being an entrepreneur and getting to do what you're passionate about, every day, makes all the hard parts not so tough when you look back at them.
Yet, until you can soundly look back and embrace all the failures that roughen the road to success, you need:
a solid goal that excites you out of bed every day.
a detailed idea of what to expect and where you want to take your business—and if you need hired help to get there.
to know what obstacles will slow you down or stand in your way, and what responsibilities should always take precedence to your work.
to know if it'll work or if it's just some pipe dream that'll cripple you before it rewards you.
to discover and understand all the necessities required to successfully run and maintain your idea.
to continually research your market and industry trends—try to remain aware of what's happening and what could happen before it knocks you out.
to make a plan. And update that plan every 12 months. Just as you grow and change, so does your business. It all needs an update once and a while.
to get sturdy systems together to help maintain your day-to-day activities and and more.
Start or re-start with the goal.
Because without that, there's no point in going through all the hardships of an entrepreneurial venture.
But, you know where to go from here.
The only step left is forward.