As a solo business owner, you are like one of those specialty performers: A plate spinner keeping a whole row of dishes on sticks whirling like tops. You get lots of things in motion at the same time, and then spend a lot of time and energy making sure everything keeps spinning.
If you are like most solopreneurs, your plates started spinning on Day 1 and you’ve been keeping them going ever since. You have had very little opportunity to step back and consider the strategic foundation upon which your business needs to stand. Unfortunately, this means that you are probably wasting a lot of your resources spinning the wrong plates; in other words, you are not making the progress that you should.
“What do you do?” So many of the solopreneurs I work with have a problem answering this question with elegance. They stutter and stammer, talk on and on, leave the listener confused and nodding politely. They find it hard to answer this question because they haven’t spent the time needed to lay the foundation for their businesses. Without this foundation business growth can’t reach the levels they seek.
Your business foundation also supports marketing and sales activities. A clear understanding of your target market and what you do to serve its members allows you to create on-target marketing messages and to sell offerings that fit their needs and objectives. If you aren’t clear on the foundational elements of your business, you risk overspending, putting energy in the wrong places, and having the sensation of wheel spinning.
As soon as possible, sit down at your computer or with a pen and paper and go through these three exercises:
- Fine tune your target market. This may be counterintuitive – as solo business owners, we should spread our nets wide, right? Wrong. The more specific you are in defining your target market, the more focused and effective your sales sphere and marketing will be.
- Walk in your customers’ shoes. What keeps them up at night? What challenges or obstacles do they face that you can help them with? What are their goals and objectives? What are the right results that they need to produce?
- List the benefits customers get from working with you. What issues, challenges, or problems do you help them solve? What goals or objectives do you help them achieve? Be specific; the more specific you can be with this list, the better focused your marketing message will be.
The results of these exercises will give you the “raw material” you need to create the right offerings and build the right marketing program for your market. The sooner you stand back from those spinning plates, the sooner you can get rid of the ones that you don’t need.