Stop Overthinking. Start Implementing
- by Urszula Richards
- 18 January 2020
Many solo business owners feel they have taken on more than they bargained for when the reality of running their own business starts to dawn on them.
No longer do they have the luxury of simply being an expert in their field but they find they need to be across all areas of finance, marketing, delivery, sales, the tech and the online stuff.
This can feel very daunting, partly because there is no way to be an expert in all these areas, and partly because as solo operators our time is extra precious.
If you also happen to be an introvert, you may think that a lot of the things you need to be doing go against the grain, and against your nature. (In actual fact, introverts have some real advantages when it comes to business, and if that sounds like you, I have a great resource just for you).
Regardless, we all want to get to the point where our business is sustaining itself and we are doing the work that we wanted to do when we first started.
So where to focus?
There is an over-abundance of information online. Good information, bad information, irrelevant and incomplete information. Do we even know which information is correct?
How can we know what we’re doing is actually what we should be doing, for our business?
When I meet business owners who are starting out, or those not doing as well as they had hoped, I tend to find problems in one or more of these three key areas.
1. They put the cart before the horse, and don’t have a clear message for their audience – one which connects with their ideal client.
You can have the most efficient sales system in the world, but if you are not attracting the right people – those who will buy from you - it is pointless.
Some common problems include – not being clear about what their offering is, thinking they don’t need a niche, and not knowing how to communicate in the right tone and language.
Many business owners figure they can write well (and they can!).
However there is a natural, built-in bias when we start to write for our own business. One is simply the fact that we too close to it, and the other is that we can underestimate how clear and specific we need to be about who we are talking to – our niche.
Writing always starts with identifying your audience. You will then be able to talk to them in a language which is relatable, putting your potential client at ease with a sense that you truly understand them.
Take Dr Nicholette Hodyl who was starting her new business - Vertex Health - as a specialist researcher, research strategist and content writer in the Health industry.
She had extensive experience and education – including a PhD, and 15 years working in her field with a speciality in writing. You might think that providing content for her own website would be a breeze.
While the writing part wasn’t difficult for Nicolette, the structure to help her articulate who she was targeting and which services were the core ones she wanted to provide made all the difference to how her website evolved.
Many people, like Nicholette, provide a range of services, so the key was in finding the best way to present this information. Knowing what to keep and what to leave out.
Nicholette worked through a ‘service and segment matrix’ which I use for just this purpose, and then followed the process of rating which of these various client segments were the most enjoyable and profitable to work with.
We then focussed the marketing message for her website based on her top three preferred areas of work.
The result – a very clear and targeted website. And Nicki’s business is flourishing.
She is fully booked and growing.
While obviously her growing business is not solely due to her website messaging, it was certainly a big factor in helping those landing on her website understand her offering and take her up on it!
Then there is the second reason why many solo business owners struggle.
2. They don’t have any automated communication systems for client nurture, conversion and retention.
The solo business owner’s best friend is a correctly set up automated online sales, nurture, conversion and retention system.
Having a system which stores contact details (a CRM or Customer Relationship Management system), and keeps in touch with your contacts – in a way which stays on message - will have people ‘knocking on your virtual door’.
This system will also play a big role in being able to retain your existing clients by automating keeping in touch, and providing ongoing ways of delivering value. In fact this is the easiest way of achieving profitability and growth in a business.
Here are some retention statistics to blow your mind.
- It costs 5 x more to acquire new customers than it does to keep current ones (source)
- Reducing churn or attrition by 5% can increase profits by 25-125% (see here)
- The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%. The probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20% (you can see this here)
- Repeat customers spend 33% more than new customers (see?)
- 80% of your company’s revenue will come from just 20% of your existing customers (here you go)
Pause for a moment.
Really take those figures in.
Automation, set up right, does not mean it is impersonal. You still are crafting your message.
Used correctly, email and CRM software make it much easier to ensure that your communications are targeted and relevant.
David Moran, is a man with a mission and runs a Mental Health First Aid Training business. David is an extraordinary implementor. He started using his CRM as soon as his business was launched.
When David first started running courses, we spent some time looking at how to keep in touch with people who had attended his training courses.
This was for two reasons –
- to make sure they knew they had support and help after the course if they needed it, but also
- to have a way of re-connecting and re-inviting participants for their ‘refresher’ courses after that when their certification expired, and to be ‘front of mind’ for referrals to others.
David learnt how to schedule follow up emails which automatically went out at specific intervals after a course was delivered. He now has an automated system to make sure everyone is followed up.
He found that quite often, these follow up emails would get a reply with stories from people about how they had already used the skills learnt to make a difference and even saved lives. How cool is that?
But wait, there’s more.
In a bid to get more online visibility, we set up a system where we tweaked one of those follow up emails to ask course participants to write a review.
Reviews help a business immensely. They help show Google you are a trusted service provider, but it also helps potential course participants know to trust Mental Health Partners.
At time of writing, where this system has been in place for about 9 months, David now has about 75 google reviews with a 4.9 star rating. This number will just keep increasing. Auto-magically.
This brings me to the third reason why solo business owners struggle.
3. They don’t know how to find the right people to help them with the things they are not expert in, don’t want to do, or don’t have time to do.
Getting the right kind of help, when you need it, is the difference between struggling and not. Who knew that as a solopreneur you’d also have to be head of your own HR department, even if you don’t employ any ‘staff’ ?!?
I know what you may be thinking – that you’re a long way from having your own team.
A Virtual Assistant (VA) for example, can be a great asset to your business, and there are many outsourced VA’s providing exceptional work from the Phillipines and many other countries at rates which make it possible for a startup solopreneur.
Unfortunately, too often VA’s are given work they are not best qualified to do. VA’s should not be asked to set up things which require specialised, high level knowledge such as sales automation, unless this is in fact in their area of specialty.
I have heard many stories of frustration with VA’s, and when I tried to investigate the issue found that the VA had been given poor instructions, or that the task was one I would have allocated to an expert.
For a start, no one person can fill the gap of all the things you don’t want to, or don’t know how to do. Most people (including VA’s) specialise in certain things and not others.
Your dream team can be a mix of subject matter experts (eg. a bookkeeper, tech support), a Virtual Assistant, and a mentor or two.
Asking the wrong people to do things they are not proficient in can lead to a lot of frustration, lost time, and lost money.
Dagmar Klingenböck– an internationally known Animal Communicator, who has been running Animal Communication courses and personalised readings for over 10 years.
I’ll leave the extraordinary stories of how Dagmar has helped many people and their animals for another time (do ask me though!)
What I did want to tell you about was how having the right people for the right jobs has freed up her brain space to focus on her business.
Like many business owners, Dagmar had heard all about sales funnels and marketing automation and when she first spoke to me, she had many things she wanted to happen with her website and marketing workflows.
She already had an excellent virtual assistant working for her.
However, after assessing what Dagmar was wanting to achieve, I realised we needed to change the email marketing software she was using, so we could include some clever ways of communicating with various groups of clients, and making certain parts of her business more automated.
While Dagmar’s VA was able to implement things Dagmar asked for, the added guidance about segmentation (who to communicate with) and tagging (targeted reasons for communicating) was something Dagmar and I worked on in considerable detail, before going back to her VA to implement.
I also needed to get my ActiveCampaign (email automation software) specialist to do the initial setup. I had learnt the hard way that setting things up requires deeper knowledge and skills, and that a specialist is money very well spent.
Once this work had been completed, we were able to give Dagmar’s VA instructions about his part of keeping the system running.
This allowed us to implement a system where clients who had readings to be auto-magically followed up and were given an opportunity to ask follow-up readings.
Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a team to support a healthy business, and the team needs to have diverse skills.
We’re continuing to work through various automations, so that the software starts working hard for her, and so she can get to the work that she loves doing with the animals.
Getting the right people for the right job is so important.
Being a solo business owner shouldn’t be so difficult.
But for many it is.
And often it is because of experts and practitioners not knowing the best messaging, automation and the balance of skilled and affordable help to allow them to set things up right and be allowed to then focus back on their main area of competence.
If you are interested in reviewing your own level of understanding in relation to your marketing, messaging and online business skills, take advantage of my free 30 minute power chat.
No obligation, value packed and fun. Promise.