A solopreneur, someone who starts a fledgling business all by himself or herself puts a lot on the shoulders of a single person, yet many entrepreneurs start out this way due to a lack of funds and limited access to the talent needed to grease the wheels of commerce. It’s brave to take on the working world like this, and it takes a lot of courage and know-how to see your fledgling operation through to its first paid employees. And that’s why you need a few key skills you can harness in the startup efforts. So let’s shed some light on the top skills proven to support you until you get to the point where you can hire help. If you plan on running a business all on your own, make sure you’ve got these skills before you start.
Top skills proven to support the solopreneur
Being a solopreneur is hard and it’s not for the faint of heart. It also isn’t right if you love to procrastinate or find it hard to stick to a plan. Much as the rest of the world thinks an entrepreneur has plenty of time on their hands and the luxury to play golf whenever they want, the reality is that most entrepreneurs work incredible hours with constant demands on their time. When I worked as a CMO for a tech startup, we routinely worked 60 hour weeks, often not seeing natural light for days on end. We missed lots of time doing things we might enjoy and I even enlisted the help of my adult children as unpaid workers for time-intensive work like a product launch or conference.
If you’re someone who is flaky, or you taking a few more breaks than you need, being in business alone is trickier for you than for anyone else. You must develop a timetable allowing you to reach milestones while allowing some slack time for unexpected problems. So, practice your timekeeping, as it’s the number one skill for entrepreneurs in the modern-day world. Pert charts are also great tools for determining the critical path so you know where to focus your energies and other resources.
Picking talent is a key skill to have in any organization but it’s especially important for the solopreneur, simply because you can’t do everything yourself, and at some point, you’re going to have to outsource some tasks.
Plus, you’re not alone in picking talent. Search the local area for professionals that have the skills and the time to help you via specialized apps. So, if you need a set of shelves putting up in the office, check out sites like Snupit to find a handyman who’s efficient and low-cost. Also, check out local community colleges and offices run by many chambers of commerce to connect workers with jobs and job training.
Again, planning is your first step in determining what talent you need and when. Next, a critical appraisal of your own skills should identify areas where you need help and when. Map the work to your available time, since you must focus on tasks unique to decision-making while relegating other tasks to someone else. Always use your time to do things that move the company forward, tasks requiring unique skills. Others can assume more mundane tasks less critical for business success. Prioritizing your work also means reduced costs as you hire folks at a lower cost while doing tasks that require a highly paid employee yourself.
I once worked with a client who failed to follow this advice. He was on top of a machine doing some routine repairs while an untrained employee inexpertly handled his highly-flammable raw material causing a fire that destroyed his inventory. Hence, the second of our skills proven to support the solopreneur is knowing when to delegate and who to delegate to.
As a solopreneur, you likely only need casual workers to accomplish a specific task rather than full-time employees. Many sites connect the casual workforce to short-term working arrangements, such as Fiverr. Only hire workers once you need them on a reliable basis.
Understand digital culture
Digital culture is a big part of business these days; indeed, most businesses launch as online only or online-first platforms in the modern era. And when you operate both off and online, you need to understand how the online world moves, and the digital needs of your business in a digital world. Operating a clean, user-friendly website, social media platforms on sites used by your target audience, email marketing, and, potentially, e-commerce are minimal standards for digital in today’s world. Some of these require little or no coding, while most require serious study to understand how things work and best-practices across various platforms. A little visual skill goes a long way to branding your new business, as well.
Maybe your website needs more accessibility features to meet the needs of physically challenged users? People want websites that are friendly to those who are partially sighted or hard of hearing and, while this is a minor ranking factor for Google search, it may have a major impact on your target market. Maybe you need to start posting on social media more frequently or make your posts more interesting or entertaining to social media users? With social media, you have a whole new way to interact with your customers and prospects if you speak in their terms and echo their values. Digital marketing is a great way to stay relatable, and relevant in a world that’s more technical every day
Being in business alone takes a lot, but it’s these skills proven to support the solopreneur that ensure you’ll excel. Make sure you keep them in mind if you’re looking to take your business to the next level.
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