How solopreneurs grow their businesses

Jude Chukwuemeka

Solopreneurs: We are living at a time of unlimited potential. Never before have we experienced such a rapid growth in the number of young entrepreneurs who’ve begun working for themselves. From app developers, to freelance writers, business consultants, creative producers, and startup founders, there’s no shortage of people willing to take large calculated risks in the name of sculpting their own self-employed dream careers.

These ‘solopreneurs’ are growing their small businesses into the millions.

Yet, despite the optimistic outlook, the majority of would-be business owners still fall victim to the fear of turning their side business ideas into reality.

Global access to free and inexpensive online education resources on platforms like CreativeLive and others, have helped to drastically cut the learning curves and barriers to entry in many industries. With valuable online learning opportunities as readily available as an internet connection, there’s no excuse for not picking up new concepts and building powerful skills.

Starting a business while you’re still working full-time is hard. But it can afford you many luxuries and securities that go straight out the window when you quit your job to pursue a business idea.

There are those who personally have gone from first-time founder of a failed business, to freelancer, to building four successful businesses—all while working a full-time job. However, when we look at the scenario, the three most common reasons people don’t follow through on starting their own businesses are:

  1. A lack of confidence in themselves
  2. A perceived lack of necessary resources
  3. And most of all, a lack of motivation

Starting a business while you’re still working full-time is hard. But it can afford you many luxuries and securities that go straight out the window when you quit your job to pursue a business idea. From the obvious of having a steady income to fund your new venture, to forcing yourself to focus only on what delivers the highest impact and lessening the pressure on yourself.

Now, before you take the plunge, you need to have a solid plan that starts with commitment.

This may be difficult. It may strain your relationships and you may continually be forced to make tough decisions.

You may have to write down a list of all the activities and commitments you have during your week with the amount of time you devote to each. Take note of the ones you can afford to lessen your involvement with and let them know you are stepping back a bit to focus on a new project that means a lot to you.

Which skill sets does your new business idea require?

You likely possess at least some of the necessary skills to make your business happen and grow, but if you don’t, you’re now faced with a tough decision. Pause to spend time learning a new skill or outsource to someone else who can help your business grow.

Early on in your planning, you need to validate your business idea. This means getting honest feedback from actual paying customers.

It’s human nature to think that we’re right and that our ideas are always amazing. Unfortunately, our business concepts and product ideas are often not fully thought out, useful, or even properly researched.

By slowing down and building a very basic proof of concept with ongoing feedback from your target audience, you’ll gradually create a solution that’s guaranteed to meet their needs. You’ll be able to grow from there.

Strive to have a competitive advantage. This is defined as your unique advantage that allows you as a business to generate greater sales or margins, and/or acquire and retain more customers than competitors.

It’s what makes your business, your business.

Your unique advantage can come in the form of your cost structure, product offering, distribution network, strategic relationships, customer support, or elsewhere in the business.

Get honest with yourself here. Not only does your business honestly have to fill a market need, but it has to do so in a way that’s different from what’s available now.

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