As a solopreneur service provider, you likely have an incredibly marketable skill, something you truly love to do and that you’re really good at. You’ve been out there hustling and have achieved some success, but then you hit a wall. Your growth and income plateau. You feel like the only way you can take your business to the next level is by raising your rates, or hustling even harder and taking on more clients.
These seem like the obvious choices, right?! To get to that next level, it’s completely logical to think more clients and/or higher prices is the way to get there. But sometimes rates are dictated by the market, and sometimes you’ve already exceeded your personal bandwidth.
The good news is, those don’t have to be the only choices. Your business can get past that plateau point and flourish without doing either of those things.
So why do most solopreneurs get stuck and struggle to grow?
1. They’ve failed to identify the true benefit they offer.
Most solopreneur service providers tend to promote the laundry-list of abilities they have, the features they offer, or even the high-tech tools they use. But your list of features just goes in one ear and out the other. The audience doesn’t care about the fancy, shmancy equipment you use. They care about the benefit they’ll receive by working with you.
Most solopreneurs also tend to sell their commoditized skill. But if you’re selling the skill itself, your audience puts you in a predetermined price category in their brain. That puts you, the service provider in a giant pool of competitors. Because let’s face it, there are others out there with similar skills, and just jumping in the deep end with all of the others, makes staying afloat tougher.
So how will you set yourself up for growth instead of falling into those traps?
By developing solid, benefit-based messaging that sets you apart from your competitors and will be the foundation for your growth. This is what I refer to as your Growth Message.
One of my recent clients was working in the very saturated life coaching market. In a more than billion-dollar industry (and still growing), she had been working with clients for a couple of years, and she wanted an even bigger slice of the pie. But she felt like she had to put in so much time and effort just to get a single client. Sometimes even taking on clients that she didn’t really enjoy working with. Within the first meeting with her, I realized what was truly the issue. She was vastly qualified to help coach people through many different life issues, which in her mind meant her client pool was large, but in reality, it was hindering her. Instead of standing out from the crowd, it put her right in the middle of it. I asked about the clients who bring her the most joy, and it was immediately apparent that she had a real knack for working with divorcees. She spoke passionately about helping them through their new life-altering situations. I worked with her to pin down her USP and messaging that resonated with those ideal clients. We recalibrated her messaging to reach the perfect audience for her! This simple change set her apart from the rest of the pack, and has brought a 10% increase in her client acquisition within the first 90 days!
Often simply out of fear, many solopreneurs fall into this trap. They believe that to compete they need to sell ALL THE THINGS they can do, often adding new services and more features to their offerings. But this expansion of services is actually limiting them.
2. They haven’t crafted an actual marketing strategy.
While growth in a business does require a level of trial and error and the ability to remain agile, many service-based solopreneurs never sit down and map out an actual marketing strategy. It’s all just buck shot, or as some might say, throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks. This rarely works in the long run. The phrase “failing to plan is planning to fail,” might be cliché but, that’s for a good reason!
By establishing an actual strategy, you’ll have clear goals and expectations. You’ll be able to quantify your results and have a plan of attack for your surge in growth.
Not too long ago, I had a client who was working in the freelance writing industry. She had been working with clients for a couple of years. Her clients gave raving reviews and seemed to adore her. But she came to me disappointed, and I guess you could say disillusioned by any of her marketing efforts. She claimed she didn’t see results. I asked her what her marketing plan looked like, what all tactics she had been trying, and for any tracking data. It didn’t take long for me to realize what the real problem was. She told me, “I don’t really have a marketing plan per se, but I’ve tried Facebook ads, print, direct mail, video creation, speaking gigs, networking events…” Let’s just say the list continued. And she said she didn’t really have quantifiable data, she “just knew” nothing worked. She was guilty of chasing the shiny marketing objects. She was anxious to grow, but with no marketing plan in place, she was a bit overzealous. Not to mention measuring the success of her efforts was next to impossible. She wasn’t giving her campaigns time to work, which all meant she was spending a lot of time and money carelessly. I helped her create a marketing strategy that fit for both her and her business. She now knows what her personal marketing style is and she has a roadmap to follow. She’s also able to track and see the measurable results. She’s thrilled, because she doesn’t have to second guess what to do next, or where her money is going, and she acquired 4 new clients within 4 weeks of putting this growth strategy in place.
Many solopreneurs have this problem. While they’re incredibly motivated, they let the myriad tactics take over. But no tactic available, outshines a sound strategy.
3. They haven’t put the systems in place to handle growth.
Solopreneurs wear many hats and are usually juggling all of the aspects of their business. But when they desire growth, the thought of hustling even harder and committing even more time can be daunting. While deep down they’re motivated, in the back of their mind they start to question, “Do I actually have the bandwidth to handle more?”
They’ve overlooked one of the vital steps in growing: Putting in place business processes and systems. A system creates the foundation for everything to build upon and run smoothly as they grow. A repeatable process for how to carry out business leaves less to chance and more time to focus on the higher-value tasks. There are also tools a business can use as a part of their system that make work easier. In short, a proper system provides the solopreneur a sense of relief, knowing they are set up to run more effectively and efficiently, which means they definitely CAN handle more!
About a year ago, I worked with an author and speaker. She was passionate and loved both the work she was doing, and the idea of doing even bigger things. She had been participating in all of the events, organizations, podcasts, etc. that came across her radar. Utilizing every social platform and messaging app to communicate with contacts, clients, contractors, round the clock. Her entire business was being run like a whirlwind. She was running herself ragged, delving into both business and nonprofit work. Always saying yes, meanwhile her books sales were struggling, the business was only breaking even, and she confided in me that not one of her speaking engagements had ever been for pay. There was a sense of failure in her voice. But I knew this woman had amazing abilities. If you stood her up in front of a room, both she and the room would light up. She just lacked focus, and never put a system in place to handle her work. She was an action-taker but had no process to manage that action. Fixing this problem was simple. We mapped out a system for every aspect of her business; from the way she was communicating with clients to marketing outreach, and sales. Within 60 days she went from running on empty to relaxed. From opportunities falling through the cracks to getting the most out of each one, handling them more efficiently and professionally. And did I mention that next speaking engagement, she got paid!
Oftentimes solo service providers neglect to put the systems in place that are vital and are the foundation on which any business can grow.
But solopreneurs don’t have to struggle to grow.
While it’s inevitable that along the journey you’ll hit bumps in the road, and feel like things in your business have plateaued. It happens to the best of us. But you don’t have to let it stop you. It’s time to make a change, and I can help with that. My Growth Surge™ Intensive can help you break through those barriers, and propel you forward.
Finally, if while you were reading, you thought of a friend, coworker or network that would find it useful, please share it with them – I’d really appreciate it.