I collaborate with many solo entrepreneurs and I must say, we are an interesting lot. A hybrid between the small-business owner and freelancer, we’re navigating new waters.
Successful entrepreneurs often talk of the ever-elusive “tipping point,” where passive income is achieved and audience size goes from the thousands to the hundreds of thousands. But for a lot of “solopreneurs,” a plateau happens in the thousands, and it can be hard to push through to the next level.
In the last year I’ve been able to interview some of the most successful entrepreneurs, and I’ve noticed a few common tactics they’ve used that many small business owners don’t.
Here are three things you need to stop doing to massively grow.
1. Doing everything yourself
Michael Hyatt, a New York Times bestselling author, podcast host and Platform University founder, said that hiring his first virtual assistant was a total game changer for his business.
If you’ve hired at least one VA, you’re on the right track. But for most, hiring one person for administrative tasks is simply not enough. When you’re still left to do the client work, social media, marketing, sales, networking and more, balls are going to get dropped.
The ball that usually drops first for solo entrepreneurs is marketing and self-promotion, which is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. Suddenly you realize the work examples on your site, testimonials on LinkedIn, and latest blog post are all a year old.
Just like large businesses, we have to staff up to prepare for growth. Consider having your VA look for additional help in areas like social-media scheduling, content editing and updating your website. When you can focus almost solely on creation and relationships with current clients and potential customers, you will start to gain momentum.
2. Constantly in hyper-speed mode
I get it, things move fast in business today. Attention spans are tiny and newsfeeds are full. You have to outbid, outpace and outwork competitors. You are always looking to execute on more ideas.
But your best ideas take time to develop. Take a cue from Seth Godin, master marketer and author of 18 international bestsellers, and spend more time thinking. Godin explained that if he spends about two hours doing focused work and four hours noticing the world around him, “that’s a good day.”
Natalie Jill, online fitness entrepreneur whose first program brought in over six figures in its first year, focuses intently on her work for four hours, then calls it a day.
Related: 6 Lessons I Wish I'd Known Before My Business Failed
Another time to slow down is before launching a new product or project, which may seem counterintuitive. But too often solo entrepreneurs and small-business owners think digital products like online courses, e-books and paid online-membership sites can be whipped together quickly with no prelaunch strategy. Slow down; you can't rush right before launch and expect results. To succeed, entrepreneurs must put together a well thought-out plan beforehand, including a press strategy, grassroots plan and marketing initiatives.
3. Having no guideRunning a business can seem like the wild west, and it may feel like you’re in your own category, making up the rules as you go. Time and time again, however, successful people quote mentorship as a key to their success.
John Lee Dumas, founder and host of Entrepreneur on Fire, said the first step to the success of his podcasting business, which brings in more than $250,000 per month, was investing in a mentor. Lewis Howes, New York Times bestselling author of The School of Greatness, and host of the wildly successful podcast of the same name, credits multiple mentors for his repeated successes.
If you can’t find a one-on-one mentor in your industry, find a mastermind group with students who are on a level above you. Consider a paid membership site that is led by someone you admire.