When it comes to owning her own business, Linda Gregg says the best part is “the independence … the opportunity to make decisions yourself.”
She started American Teachers Academy after her previous employer’s decision to close his business. Gregg went from being a technical expert with a team of people supporting her to a “solo entrepreneur” in charge of every detail. Today, she couldn’t dream of doing anything else.
Solopreneurs encounter many of the same challenges that other business owners face – and some unique ones, too. Tasked with single-handedly managing all aspects of their businesses – sales, marketing, technology, production, office management, accounting, etc. – they can quickly become overworked and overwhelmed.
They might also find it difficult to grow their businesses as they deal with competing priorities and not enough hours in the day.
Fortunately, with dedication to working smarter, not harder, solopreneurs can gain the capacity to devote more time and energy to revenue growth.
If you’re starting or running a one-person company, consider the following suggestions:
Get more organized. Use technology tools to help keep track of to-do’s, deadlines and important information. Try blocking out time on your calendar for all projects and tasks you need to accomplish. Use platforms like Evernote or Dropbox to save and organize information you’ll need to reference later. For keeping projects on track, cloud-based software services like Trello provide collaborative features that streamline communication with project partners and maintain all project information in a central place.
Boost efficiency and productivity. Figure out the times of the day when you’re at your peak performance and schedule your work for clients during those times. This will help ensure you’re putting your best foot forward on the tasks that matter most. Consider using platforms and features that allow you to automate certain aspects of your business. Try streamlining social media efforts by composing and scheduling posts with Hootsuite or Buffer. If you have clients that you bill for the same amount at regular intervals, you can save time by scheduling recurring invoices in QuickBooks.
Don’t sell yourself short. If you bill hourly for your services, use a time-tracking app (like Toggl or Hours) that you can turn on and off easily whenever dedicating time to a client. This will help ensure you’re not missing out on billing for five minutes here and 10 minutes there – those short increments can add up. Review your rates to make sure you’re getting paid fairly for your services. Often, startup solopreneurs will charge a little less to ramp up their client base. If this sounds like you, consider revisiting your rate schedule and adjust it upward as demand for your services increases and you build a great reputation.
Outsource tasks. Just because you don’t have employees doesn’t mean you can’t get help with different aspects of your business. Give yourself more time to work on revenue-generating activities by outsourcing tasks that you either aren’t adept at (or dislike) to freelancers and independent contractors. Some activities to outsource could include bookkeeping, writing blog posts or researching (competition, industry, etc.).
Ask for guidance from a SCORE mentor. Just because you’re a “solo”-preneur, you don’t have to go it alone. Contact SCORE to request a mentor and get the insight and feedback you need to grow your business. Mentoring is free of charge, and SCORE volunteers have expertise in all aspects of starting and growing a small business. They can provide you with guidance on how to scale your one-person operation.
Gregg came to SCORE early in the development of her business, which provides customized on-site workshops, online courses and educational resources for educators and administrators.
“Working with my mentor has given me the confidence, the knowledge and the skill to actually own my own business. I have a lot of content knowledge and information about the specific field I’m in, but running a business was a whole new venture.”