There are around 41.8 million solopreneurs in the US and 3.5 million in the UK.
It’s no surprise that these numbers are set to rise as a result of the pandemic. People want to create a lifestyle that works for them, and why shouldn’t they?
The Solopreneur LIVE event in April was an awakening for me, an opportunity to really get to the bones of running a business. Very often we have strength in our area of expertise, but business knowledge and the cogs that make it all work can take years to grasp.
Lyle Mustard recently shared an article, Key Takeaways for New Entrepreneurs, and it completely resonated with me. I’m not completely new to the freelancing game, but I’m tackling it differently the second time around, with the hopes that I’ll find a more sustainable strategy to achieve growth and success.
Keep reading for five lessons about growing your solopreneur business that I’ve learned the hard way.
Lesson 1: Don’t Budge on Price or Your Principles
I recently joined a masterclass with other copywriters at different stages of their career. We all want to be better and do better for our clients, but for some reason, self-worth and value has been a big demon for a lot of us to shake.
My blocks stem from past experiences in the workplace and incidents in my formative years. Now it’s time for a reckoning with my inner child. Something I unearthed last year was the effects of what I was taught about money growing up.
Wanting to be “rich” was not something you spoke about — possibly seen as being greedy or ungrateful. Instead, I was taught to invest in the idea of a white-collar profession and a university degree. This was the highest commodity in my house.
The result is that I find it difficult to find that worthy place between my price and my principles. I want clients to understand what they’re paying for and hope they see the value in the copywriter they contract. Meanwhile, I’m figuring out how I value my skillset as well.
What I do know is that I’m an expert in my field, and this time around, my rates need to reflect that. Regular self-appraisal and a copywriting group that I can check in with all help me establish what those will be.
Lesson 2: Failure Isn’t Permanent
Fresh out of university, I landed a paid internship as a marketing assistant at the university’s Centre for Enterprise. It was effectively a growth hub for small businesses that wanted to build their empire.
I fell in love with the job almost immediately and loved everything to do with writing. Newsletters, web writing, interviewing business owners, blog posts — I loved every second of it!
I had no idea people other than authors and journos made a living out of writing every day. So I went with it, and at the end of the internship, I was surprised but delighted when a couple of those small business owners offered me some freelance work.
Riding the high of my first clients and being my own boss, I completely overlooked any kind of strategy to build a client base and sustain a living. So when my main gig was cancelled, I had NO idea what the hell to do.
I didn’t know how to win clients. I got my first clients on a whim. So scarcity, fear, the social pressure about what I “should be doing” vs. what I loved to do resulted in a huge knock to my confidence.
That led me back to the rat race for quite a few years. But guess what? Failure isn’t permanent!
Lesson 3: Community is Key
Fast forward six years, one new country, one baby, a little time, perspective, and the space to make some mistakes — and I’ve decided to try again. Only this time I’m paying attention!
One of the biggest things new solopreneurs forget is that you have to invest in yourself in order to grow. The learning is never done.
There really is no secret formula to working for yourself; it takes time to build, can take seconds to lose, and will probably give you more sleepless nights than a new baby at some points.
Trust me, I’ve got the business, baby, and eye bags to prove it!
But one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is to invest some of your profit in finding a community of copywriters and people in the industry you want to be in, to learn from, reach out to, and access.
Lesson 4: Don’t Settle, Work with Your Ideal Clients
Following on from this, once your confidence starts to grow, along with your role, your expertise, and your prices, you realise that you can change gears and get in the lane of the clients you want more of.
Reflect on the parts of the job you’ve LOVED before. What kind of clients and projects brought on those kinds of highs?
People might call it naive or stupid to turn clients away. I call it gutsy and ambitious.
I’m fortunate enough to not have to be at the beck and call of an office manager; being brought to heel with outdated workplace rules. I sure as hell don’t want to surround myself with the wrong kind of clients either.
Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes you have to take the work you can get in the beginning. But ultimately, if a client starts to become a headache for you, it’s time to press the eject button and give their seat to someone who deserves to be at the table.
Clients require copywriters. They don’t have the time or expertise to solve that particular problem. We’re giving them back their time or brainpower: both powerful commodities in the western world.
They need us to make that problem go away. Know your worth and don’t waver.
Lesson 5: Diversify
Finally, whatever your main gig is, be aware of what else you’ve got going on that brings you an income too.
Different streams of income are the simplest way to create security as you take the leap into Solopreneurship.
Billionaires have something like seven different income streams: property investments, work earnings, capital gains, stocks, bonds. You name it, they probably have it.
I’m definitely not there yet, but I’m always trying to look at my finances and identifying other ways to create the life I love, a life that can sustain my family in the long run.
- Clients need us and they’ll respect us if we’re firm with our principles and our prices
- Recognise the clients that have brought you joy and focus on attracting more of them!
- Find a community with people that reflect your values and challenge you to grow
- Layout your offerings and identify the ones that have been the most valuable to your clients to date. Is it time to increase your rates?
Ready to Grow Your Solopreneur Business?
These five lessons will get you started. But realize, you’ll never truly arrive. Business growth is the art of continual optimization, minimizing the weak areas, and building on your strengths.
To get the support you need and find a community of fun, ambitious solopreneurs who understand your journey, join the Hub.