There seems to be a big fad around the one-person business or “companies of one”.
There is no judgment on my part as I have grown as a solopreneur and I believe it can be a very beautiful way to contribute to society.
However, we must distinguish between the difference between a business, namely a business owner and a freelancer.
Most one-person businesses are disguised as freelancers.
They run their own financial books. Do their own marketing. Take their own sales calls and fulfill their client obligations.
I know very successful (and wealthy) freelancers who run their businesses like this and enjoy the freedoms of time wealth, working with clients they want to, working when they want to, and are HAPPY.
There is a modern fallacy that entrepreneurs MUST DO MORE and grow revenue for the sake of growth.
Choosing not to grow for its own sake is a wise strategic decision if it is aligned with your life goals and vision for the future.
For those who have discerned that they want to contribute more to society and are ready to endeavor to grow their profit and impact, this Spark is for you.
In this Spark, I’d like to discuss how to GROW this type of “one-person business” without destroying your health, burnout, or neglecting your family.
To start we have to look at the Productive Profits breakdown of any business.
There are 3 components to every business in the world, yes even yours.
1- Operations (strategy, admin/people, finance, workflows)
2- Marketing (and sales where you get clients)
3 – Product (where you have R&D and fulfill your client obligations)
The typical business of one does all these functions.
Plans their own marketing, take their own sales calls, onboards their client, does the work for their client, and manages the relationship. Plus all the OPS work of strategy, finances, building automation/workflows, and SOPs.
Growing from here is actually quite simple however most entrepreneurs get stuck here (trust me, I’ve been one of them and I’ve spoken with other very successful ones as well)
The best place I like to start is in product and really honing in on what you deliver.
Here we want to identify
- What is essential?
- What can you and only you deliver?
- What can you package together to add more value with less of you?
- What is your product value matrix?
- What can you automate?
- What can you hire for?
Yes, I said the “H” word – hire. That does not mean an employee. It can be a vendor or contractor to support you.
What is most important here is your product matrix.
What levels of engagement can clients get from you and what do you do that drives the most value?
Is there a way for you to package your IP in a way that is delivered without you? Or with less of you?
This may take time to identify but this work will pay for itself because this will correlate with your pricing. Yes, it will allow you to price yourself higher in the market. But you can’t demand high prices on a whim, you have to deliver high value.
Once you have a solid understanding of your product matrix, identify where you are ESSENTIAL – then you can decide if you can create workflows that deliver value without you and or with someone else.
If you truly want to grow your profits and impact, solving this critical fulfillment piece will allow you to be aggressive with your sales and marketing.
“BUT RAUL NO ONE CAN DO WHAT I CAN DO AT THE LEVEL I CAN DO IT”
I hear this all too often.
Here is the harsh truth:
Your clients won’t tell the difference if you do this right.
In Productive Profits, I discuss the concept of the minimum level of acceptability.
Perhaps you deliver your services at a level that is 100% and the workflows and people you put in place can only deliver at 85%.
While this isn’t for you to settle for less, you still have 15% room for improvement – however, you have to put yourself in the shoes of your client: they want a job done right and results.
To them, they may get all the value and outcomes they need at a 75% output from your new delivery.
It’s not because they want less, it’s simply because they can’t tell the difference.
In no way am I saying to scam your clients and deliver half-assed results.
Never do that. Always aim to over-deliver.
The goal of the minimum level of acceptability is to allow you to create a baseline of what your client needs to receive to achieve their goal and for you to put the workflows in place to meet that baseline.
And then once you’ve done that, hustle and get your delivery to a higher level of output. Rinse and repeat.
The next area to focus on in your business if you want to grow is your time in operations.
Where are you being sucked away with your legal, finances, and admin tasks?
I guarantee you can outsource and automate most of your operations like bookkeeping, scheduling, recurring tasks, etc.
What you should focus on in your operations is strategy and financial forecasting, taking into account every KPI in the core areas of your business (will have a separate Spark on that)
A business owner who doesn’t know their numbers is perpetually lost.
For every other task that can’t be automated, consider bringing on an operations manager from Upwork ranging from $10-45/hr.
This is not a hard rule for growth, but I suggest you should get yourself out of the weeds and focus more on higher leveraged activities.
As a One-Person Business: You are the only person who can either limit or unleash your growth.
Finally, let’s move on to what every online guru teaches: marketing & sales.
Here’s the thing, there are so many ways to grow your business using multiple marketing tactics and channels.
Here is a list just in case you’re curious:
Google Display Network
Native Ads (Outbrain, Taboola)
Newsletter Email Marketing
Social Media Posting
Inbound Lead Generation
Strategic Alliances (Referral Partner)
Cold LinkedIn Messaging
Cold FB/IG/Twitter Messaging
Warm Social Media Outreach
But which is the best for One-Person Businesses?
NOT all of them.
I would suggest focusing on 2-3 top.
In my opinion and experience, the best way to grow a one-person business in marketing is through strategic alliances by creating a network of referral partners.
The goal here is to build a real relationship with other business owners that serve your target market but with adjacent services that do not compete with you. Ideally, you partner with those whose services are amplified by the work you do, and vice versa.
For example, let’s say you provide PR services for authors but do not provide social media management for your authors. It would make strategic sense to find those social media management companies that work with authors but do not offer PR services.
Aim for the Triple Win. A win for the client, win for your strategic partner, win for you.
One thing to keep in mind with your sales and marketing is how far do you want to go?
We began this Spark by discussing how some entrepreneurs don’t need to reach 7 or 8 figures and beyond.
It’s wise to reassess before you begin where you want to go and WHY.
And then when you are growing to ensure you’re heading in the right direction.
There is no wrong answer here.
Just think of this: if the work you do makes a substantial difference in the world, and the world needs you – dare to think and go big.