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Solopreneur Learnings - Reflections Over Four Years

In 2018 I incepted a business based on relationships, working with clients who shared the same values as me, and not being hell-bent on chasing lifestyle comprising revenue. I had a deliberate intent to keep the business small and my life flexible, to divide my time into thirds; being a third on revenue work, another on thinking, writing and pro-bono activity, and the final third on my family/personal stuff.

This is what I have learned;

1. Consistent revenue will be slow in year one and better in year two. My earnings in years three and four have been consistent. Revenue lifts as you build your brand, business reputation and client case studies. You must be prepared to accept the possible dip from leaving salaried employment. It will be challenging if you cannot do this, thankfully, my wife was very supportive.

2. Business name; I launched with CHANGE lead®, a name I had registered years ago. Upon publishing my first book, my publisher insisted on me creating People buy books because of the author and not their business, your name could be enough to launch a business. If I had my time again, I might only launch my author website with specific services; however, it needs to be noted that CHANGE lead® helped evolve my offerings. The registered trademark adds some credibility to my unique IP.

3. Mentors, your corporate mentors will have opinions and not the experience of establishing a small business; their opinions are not that useful. I stumbled across a mentor during the Covid lockdown who established, then sold, a large company and has worked within his own small business for decades. His honest feedback has refined everything. This three-page brochure would not have been possible without his tough conversations.

4. Being hands-on helps you be agile. I manage my own author’s website (Wix platform) and almost all of my activities. I use third-party services such as 99 Designs (logo creation) and Fiverr (cartoon creation). I have a part-time EA who is one of my yoga instructors (employed based on a friendship). I pay this person well to retain them, and they are great at keeping me focussed on tasks I must complete.

5. Regular content has driven business; thousands do not “like” on social media my weekly blog, but you only need several people to read it regularly to become customers. The combination of my books, my short videos, a weekly blog, writing for media outlets and updated websites; all help retain and win customers. It is not one of these things, but a variety that has attracted clients (there is no silver bullet). It has also helped raise my profile on Google, which is helpful.

6. Your website, as my customer profiles are different and multi-generational, ranging from those who work in customer advocacy in IT companies to CEOs, you must cater for what they value. My website includes my Instagram feed, a video, a PDF and traditional service descriptions. This combination is essential; avoid the temptation of only catering to somebody like you, and solicit broad feedback from a diverse group of people.

7. Customer engagements and pricing. I have discounted my day rate twice in four years for advisory engagements. For one client, when I started, and for another for a much larger prize. If you are discounting, know why you are doing it. Your discounted engagement could keep you away from longer-term, well-paid, exciting work.

8. Your network is critical; probably 90% of my revenue has come from people who know me or have worked with me. Some of these people become your raving fans, referring you to others.

9. Software, my essential tools are – XERO for invoicing- Mailchimp for blogging - Wix for websites - Vimeo for video hosting - Zubtitle for video captions and styling -Canva for video editing, memes and brochures. These are the best tools to be familiar with when starting.

10. Overheads, keep them low! There is no need for an office; I don’t have a printer; my laptop is a Microsoft Surface GO (circa $900) as I use many cloud-based software programs. However, find yourself a good accountant to establish your business in the proper structure; don’t skimp on good professional advice.

My final point of guidance would be; to be mindful of your time. I work on something every day, but not all day; know when your energy levels are diminishing and rest.

One of the many insights within Making Life Happen.


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