Okay, so you want to grow a successful business… but you don’t have a team. As I mentioned in last week’s article, What is a solopreneur?, you can ABSOLUTELY grow your small business without a team of people to help you out!
Before we go over how to grow a successful small business without a team, I first want to be very clear:
As a solopreneur, everything will take time and/or money.
So if you don’t want to hire someone to do work for you, you’re going to have to take the time to do it for yourself.
Luckily, “hiring” doesn’t have to mean having a team of employees. Nope! Hiring can also mean things like outsourcing, which we’ll talk more about in a moment.
Keep in mind that solopreneurship, while wonderful and amazing, isn’t easy. You need to invest both time and money into your business to have success—and how much time and money you spend will directly correlate to your business strategies, your implementation of those strategies, and your ability to come up with creative ideas and think outside the box to save time/money.
Okay! Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about how to grow your small business when you don’t have any employees.
10 ideas for how to grow a successful business without a team:
1) Be super strategic.
You KNEW this one would be at the top of my list 😉
Being super strategic means having a reason for everything you do in your business. It means working on actionable tasks on a regular, consistent basis that contribute to your overarching big goals. It means making productive use of your time and managing your business effectively so as to get more done in less time, without burning out.
2) Set timers for each project.
This is a great little strategy I’ve started using just this month. I have a series of timers set on my phone and have scheduled them each several hours apart. They’re labeled “Project #1,” “Project #2,” and “Project #3.”
Every evening, I review my to-do list and monthly desktop calendar, and I edit each timer to include a quick note for what that project will be. So, for example, they might look something like this:
9 AM – Project #1: Write + schedule blog post
12 PM – Project #2: Create + schedule social media posts for Client A
3 PM – Project #3: Write article for Client B
I set all the timers in the evening, so the next day, when they go off, I just have to glance at my phone to see what I’m scheduled to focus on next!
The three-hour time blocks are really nice because they’re a solid chunk of time to get a lot done for a project. It also keeps me motivated to keep working on the project if I know I’ll be switching to something else in 20 minutes — I want to make sure I get as much done as possible before moving onto the next item on my list.
3) Automate where appropriate.
I love scheduling social media posts so that it does passive marketing for me.
Automating some parts of my social media means I have more opportunity and flexibility to connect with people in real time on social media and engage in conversations, as well as avoid the trap of spending hours every day posting on social media.
For example, I use MeetEdgar* to schedule Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter posts.
4) Outsource the most important things.
The #1 thing you should hire someone to do? Your taxes! Do NOT hesitate to invest in an awesome accountant for your business.
Just because you haven’t hired a team of people, doesn’t mean you can’t outsource (or contract out) some things. For example, if you want something fancy done for your website, you might want to hire someone to do that for you.
Be strategic about what you outsource. When I say, “outsource the most important things,” I mean that you should outsource things that will make a difference to your business and which you do not have the knowledge/time for.
This is why an accountant should always be at the top of your list! You might also want to hire a virtual assistant to help you manage social media platforms, a graphic designer to create a logo, or a video editor to polish up your YouTube videos.
5) Prioritize what matters and ignore the rest.
You would not BELIEVE how many projects and ideas I have on the backburner right now. There are so many things I want to do, but as a solopreneur, I need to focus on fewer projects to maximize them! And that’s okay.
Every time you come up with a new project or idea that you want to work on, write it down. You can have an ideas bank in a spreadsheet, or you could map out projects using color-coded post-its on giant pieces of poster paper.
Once it’s written down, set it aside. NOW is not the time to think about it—focus on what your priority is at this moment!
Then, come back to your idea later on to look at it in more detail.
Depending on how often you come up with new projects/ideas, you may want to set aside time each week, month, or quarter to review those projects and ideas and check in to see how they contribute to your overall big goals and where they fit on your priority list.
Pssst… want help identifying your big goals? I’ve got you! Click HERE to grab the free goal planning workbook.
I’ll be honest—I always have new things I want to do, so I review my plans pretty often!
I like checking in to see how excited I am about the idea, how it contributes to my big plans, why I want to do it, how easy it would be to implement, and what the end result would theoretically look like.
This quick check-in process of asking myself questions and taking a look at my current plan of action enables me to see whether or not the new project/idea is something that should get bumped up higher on the priority list or if it’s something to keep towards the bottom. If it’s something that I realize I want to do within the next little while, then I have to reassess my plans and bump something a little lower on the priority scale.
This method works super well. Solopreneurship is ALL about prioritizing!
6) Do a services swap.
If you have business friends and you have a separate set of skills that you could each benefit from, considering swapping services! This is a great way to gain experience, collaborate, and save money.
Be clear upfront about what the services swap will entail—you want to make sure you are both benefiting from the services swap.
7) Get help from friends and family.
When I first got my website up and running, I hired my web designer friend to help me move my articles from one platform to the next. She was also my go-to person whenever my website was having problems and I needed help.
Once she got too many other clients and had to let me go (I was getting a discounted rate), one of my besties offered to help me with my website, and he’s been my web person ever since (edited in 2018 to add: he’s now my business partner!).
Perhaps you know someone who is a photographer, or a graphic designer, or an editor who can help you out from time to time. Know who your people are!
One thing I want to stress here: please don’t abuse your relationship with people to get a bunch of free work out of them. Only ask people who you are very close to, and realize that they might not be able to help you out (for example, I have about 3 people who I do work for free for, and that’s my limit). Moreover, when your friend or family member is doing work pro bono for you, it probably won’t be top priority for them, so it may take a little longer to get it done.
But you can get help from family/friends in other ways, too: during busy times with your business, COMMUNICATE with your spouse/roommate/kids to let them know about the situation and so that they will be able to take on more of the housework, for example.
8) Assess what’s working and what’s not working, and readjust.
Prioritize taking time to step back and reflect on your business.
If it’s constantly go-go-go, you might not realize that there’s a particular area of your business that isn’t a good fit anymore, or that you need a new system for staying organized, or that you need to upgrade your email marketing system from a free platform to the awesomeness of ConvertKit*.
Continually checking to see what’s working and what’s not will enable you to stay on top of things BEFORE there’s a problem.
9) Experiment with different kinds of organizational systems.
Being well-organized will allow you to have more opportunity to grow your business. But one person’s organizational system won’t necessarily be right for you!
Try both digital and paper planning methods, and check in to see how they’re going every couple weeks or so in case you need to try something else.
10) Be open to change—and be the instigator of that change.
You can’t sit around and wait for things to happen. If you feel like you aren’t getting paid enough, then raise your prices. If you don’t love the service you’re offering to clients, launch a new service. If you feel like you and your clients aren’t on the same page, then create a new ideal client profile and shift your marketing tactics.
Growth in your business is dependent on you making that happen.
What tips have you found the most useful for growing your small business? Share in the comments section below!
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