By Greg Waldorf, CEO of Invoice2go
Being a one-man or woman-show is a tough gig, but for someone taking the leap of faith on a business idea, and taking control of your own destiny outside the 9 to 5, it can be extremely rewarding too. There are many solopreneur success stories out there. Some of these businesses are founded by people who are passionate about a cause, like Saha Global’s mission to help with the world water crisis, others are entrepreneurs seeking to fill an underserved niche, as these 12 business owners did. Despite their differences, all of them had one thing in common: they succeeded by learning the art of running a one-person business and by focusing on a few key elements.
Here are the top tips for running a successful business on your own:
1. Take full advantage of your most productive times.
Reflect on what your most productive hours in the day are, and set yourself up for success within those hours. If you’re thinking clearest and working most effectively in the early morning hours, block those hours out for your most important work. Don’t waste those precious hours on cleaning out your email or reworking your schedule.
2. Actively manage your cash flow.
Income can be sporadic when you’re a solo business owner. By taking an active role in managing cash flow, you can smooth out ups and downs and be more in control. Apps like Invoice2go enable you to invoice your clients immediately from your mobile phone, and collect online payments straight from the invoice. The longer you wait to send an invoice, and the more difficult you make it to pay, the longer they’ll take to pay you. According to the Federal Reserve’s Cash Product’s Office, 65% of people prefer paying by debit and credit card, over cash or checks. Give people the payment options they expect, track who still owes you money, and follow up on unpaid invoices.
3. Streamline all your administrative tasks.
It’s incredible how much time people waste doing simple admin tasks the long, manual way. If you spend hours figuring out your expenses at the end of the week, you can likely tighten your process. Receipt capture apps are great for keeping track of expenses as you incur them. If you are filing papers away in a physical file, you’re probably losing time every time you need to search, scan, and email a copy to someone else. Use cloud-storage through Google Drive or Dropbox so you can do all these tasks online in seconds.
4. Delegate to get stuff done.
The idea of delegating out tasks may seem counterintuitive, but with a host of online tools designed specifically to help business owners like you, you can get creative with using outside talent. Decide what takes up the most time out of your day. If it’s writing, research, or admin work, hire freelancers via the likes of Upwork. Even physical jobs like setting up a home office, or doing computer repairs can be outsourced easily with sites like Thumbtack which help you find pros in your area that can get the job done for you.
5. Pin down your elevator pitch.
Everyone knows what an elevator pitch is, but many underestimate the importance of investing the time and energy into getting it right. Being able to communicate this in an engaging, convincing way will help you not only attract new customers, but also get others in your network enthusiastic about what you’re doing. It can also help you stay focused on your goals, and keep you steered in the right direction as your business evolves. Main points to hit: What do you value? Who are your customers? What problem does your business solve?
6. Put effort into your existing customers.
Running a solo business means time is precious. You don’t have a marketing and advertising team. But what you do have is word-of-mouth, and this comes from happy, loyal customers. Whether it’s your first, 20th or 500th customer, encourage them to share their feedback with you and with others. You could include customer testimonials on your website or ask customers to leave reviews on relevant sites like Yelp, Yellow Pages, Facebook or TripAdvisor. This will let you know how you’re doing and will encourage other people to seek you out. Maintain honesty and loyalty to your brand and customers. Offer incentives to encourage repeat business, and make them feel appreciated by writing a thank you note or just sending a personal email to let them know they’re valued. The small details can go a long way.
7. Avoid burnout at all costs.
Work is necessary and fulfilling, but you also have a life apart from your business. It’s important to establish the line between running your business and time for yourself, and ultimately determine what is most important to you. For Craig, the owner of Dent Tech of Lexington, being available for quality family time is the priority. His number one tip on achieving balance while running a business is, “Be consistent and accountable in setting a firm schedule that dictates when you start and finish work each day. When a firm schedule is set, it’s easy to stick to it.” Things like exercise and adequate sleep are also critical for getting your mind and body ready for the work day.
Mastering the art of being a solopreneur takes time and commitment. You’ll make mistakes, so let go of perfection and work steadily toward your goals. Rome wasn’t built in a day, so give your business time to grow while also making time for you.
Greg Waldorf is CEO of Invoice2go and is responsible for driving global expansion of the business. He has a long history of involvement with leading technology businesses. Prior to joining Invoice2go, Greg was affiliated with Accel Partners as CEO-in-residence. Greg also served as CEO of eHarmony from 2006-2010 where he drove significant global growth through an expansion to 15 countries worldwide.