6 Biggest Mistakes Solopreneurs Make When They Start Their Business
Making mistakes is how we learn, grow, and become better. When you're starting your own business, wouldn't it be great to have some insights from those who have trekked the path you are about to take?
They say, "A wise man learns from his mistakes. A wiser man learns from the mistakes of others."
The simple fact is this: mistakes will happen, embrace them, learn from them. In the meantime, learn from us. We've compiled some common mistakes solopreneurs make and how you can avoid them. If you realize you are making these mistakes now, we've got your covered. Read on for easy fixes that will get you back on track.
1. More Tools In Your Toolbox Than You Need
When you're first starting out, you're going to have the urge to buy every online tool you see because it appears to have all the bells and whistles you think will help streamline your processes. Hold your horses! Don't fall into that trap. You'll soon realize you have invested a lot of unnecessary cash when you learn you probably didn't need that tool, or at least not need it right now in the startup phase.
There are hundreds of free online tools and apps on the internet waiting for you. And, don't forget about the apps already on your computer. Seriously, if you're a one-team enterprise, you probably don't need to shell out cash for a sophisticated payroll application.
Survey the needs of your business to understand what you need to be operational, make sure the application is fit for the size of your business, and read reviews. We tell our clients to start out with just a few standard but important tools and applications:
Excel Spreadsheet - you probably already have this on your computer! When you've outgrown the spreadsheet to keep track of sales, Due, Handdy, and Sighted all have free invoicing solutions for small businesses.
Email Service - yep, you have this too
Creative Tool - Visme and Canva both have free versions
Website Platform - lots of free options out there: Wix, Webstarts, and Weebly are just a few
Trello - a fabulous and free tool to keep you organized!
Click here to view a list of more free small business apps. If you find an app online that you just love but is pricey, make a goal to bring in a certain amount of sales first to help fund the purchase.
2. Jack of Too Much Knowledge
It sounds strange to say it, but too much knowledge can actually be a bad thing when you're starting your own business. There are countless how-to blogs and books for managing your small business. Be careful not to fall into the "click and save for later" syndrome. You probably have a ton of saved links bookmarked or saved to Pocket or Dropbox which you will likely never get through. It's information overload which will leave you feeling more perplexed than before you started.
Learning is good. Studying is better.
It takes discipline but you can do it. Stop the madness of surfing aimlessly on the internet for information and getting overloaded with too much data. If you want sound, reliable tips, how-to's, and advice that will truly help you build your business and brand, we recommend obtaining the following sources and study only those until you have exhausted the information each source has to offer:
Bookmark 5 online blogs
Obtain 5 books
Find 2 podcasts
3. Trying to Market to the Masses
Whether you are selling a product or service, you don't want to market to every human out there. The reason direct mail was an uber-fail for decades was that the expensive postcard, for example, would be mailed out to the masses when in reality only a very small percentage of people receiving the information would actually be interested in what was being offered. Targeting and segmenting your marketing is key!
If you believe your market is "mothers", for example, it would be wise to segment that field. What is the age range of the ideal mom client? Does she have little kids running around or older kids in college? Is she a stay-at-home mom or does she go into the office? Questions like these will help uber-focus your target market which will allow you to message your marketing appropriately.
Narrow down your market and then put in the work to really understand it. Create buyer personas of your ideal customers. Buyer personas are fictional characters with real-world wants and needs with real-world demographics - income, sex, age, and education level as well as psychographic details - values, personality, and attitude. All of the attributes allow you to hyper-focus your messaging. Hubspot has a great free buyer persona tool here.
Isn't it better to expend time, money, and effort on the finite group that actually wants or needs your product or service? Yes, indeed.
4. Putting the Cart Before the Marketing Horse
A common mistake made by business newbies is they either undervalue the need for a marketing plan and do very little to advertise their business or they expend too much energy, time and money trying to make sure their brand is visible on every possible advertising channel available - web, social media, print, podcasts, videos, etc. Neither avenue is a good strategy.
A go-to-market plan or strategy may sound daunting. I assure you, it is not.
Simply, once you identify who you want to market to, identify 3 ways you can get your message to them. Baby steps! You can always build out your marketing strategy by adding new channels as you grow. To start, pick only 3 and learn to be really good at marketing in these 3 channels.
We tell our new clients to focus only on the following mediums to reach their target market when they are starting out:
Facebook or Twitter
Once you get established and start making sales, you can start to incorporate other mediums into your strategy:
Other Social Media such as Instagram, Pinterest, Linkedin
Build a blog
Video - Youtube, Vimeo
5. You Don't Have it Together
If you're disorganized, you're setting yourself up for failure. If your desk and files are a mess, you won't be able to successfully concentrate on the tasks at hand. If your computer files are disorganized, you will waste valuable time searching digital folders when you need to access that file again. If you don't maintain a schedule or calendar, you will find yourself missing appointments or rushing to them.
Establish processes and routines. That is the key. Carry around a notebook that you can jot down in one place all those fleeting business thoughts so you can go back to them later. Create a daily routine from the time you get up to the time you go to bed. Map out your day. It is the only way to maximize your precious time and be productive. Prepare, prepare, prepare.
6. Taking the Solo in Solopreneur Too Literally
Wanting and believing you can "do it all" is admirable. Hey, I fight that notion every day. After all, your small business is your idea and you know how best to run it, right? It turns out, however, that trying to do it all alone might be the biggest mistake you're making.
You're still an awesome kick-ass entrepreneur if you ask for assistance or guidance. A helping hand can keep you and your business on track for success. There's no need to tough it out and be the receptionist, the salesperson, the marketer, and the designer. Use your resources - kids, spouse, friends. It will pay off, I assure you.
As a solopreneur, there are key mistakes you can avoid if you want your business to grow, shine, and thrive. It's important to know your strengths and identify your weaknesses, which means investing in the right strategies for your long term success. For more details, visit Spot On Creative Solutions to learn how you can start your success story right now.