Every successful business grows in phases.
But growth phases can be harder to consider when you’re in the middle of your own story, operating as a solopreneur.
It’s too easy to get lost in the details, trying to do everything all by yourself.
And before you know it, you’re working yourself to death, doing the wrong things for the phase your business is in. Lots of my clients have exhibited this behavior!
However, a solopreneur needs to spend your limited time and energy on the appropriate tasks for your phase.
And if you can do that, you increase your chances of success exponentially.
The 5 Phases of Solopreneurship
There are basically five stages of Solopreneurship. And each phase comes with its own unique challenges and requirements.
Today, I want you to understand these different phases so you can zoom out, recognize where you are, and take the appropriate action.
Phase 1: Staying Alive
The beginning of Solopreneurship is about survival.
You’re the new kid on the block, and you’re just trying to stay alive. To keep your internet “doors open and lights on.”
It’s scary, but exciting at the same time.
You learn so much about yourself and your business at this stage. And this phase is where 95% of people fail.
So here are two simple tips for surviving:
- Keep your expenses low: Free or cheap website builders and email software should be enough to get started. You don’t need expensive software or fancy logos and brand systems in this phase.
- Leverage social media: social media is basically free. Use platforms like Twitter and (especially) LinkedIn to share your knowledge and expertise. The only investment here is your time. Stay away from ads and expensive marketing campaigns. I made a huge mistake here, as I invested in Facebook ads way before I should have.
Phase 2: Build Systems
When you get some traction (i.e., you’re making some predictable money), you enter phase two, where you start building systems.
Think of systems as processes that you can follow to produce a predictable outcome.
- Idea systems
- Content systems
- Email & newsletter systems
- Customer support systems
Here’s where the structure of your Solopreneur business begins to form.
Document your systems: Every task you find yourself doing repeatedly can potentially be systematized.
Start by outlining your tasks in a document.
When it’s time to delegate any of those tasks, you’ll have clear instructions to follow or hand off to a helper. No more forgetting how or when to do things.
My content system: For example, I have developed a system for creating a major piece of content and repurposing it in many different directions.
Phase 3: Growth Focused
Once you have systems in place, it’s much easier to put some additional weight on the foundation of your business. Your foundation is much less likely to crack with strong systems.
Now is the time to start investing in growth. By this point, you should intimately know your customers and how to acquire more of them.
If you’ve been active on one social media platform up until this point, it could be a great time to expand to another platform.
Starting a newsletter, weekly video series, or podcast might bring in new customers from untapped channels.
Or you could look for strategic partnerships with other creators, solopreneurs, or business owners. Collaborations can help you extend your reach and bring in new customers without incurring significant costs.
Phase 4: Invest in Self Protection
If you start to build a successful one-person business, you’ll notice something pretty scary – there will be a lot of copycats. Content stealers, product copiers, and worse.
That noise makes it even harder to compete in the busy and crowded social media space.
How will you protect your business from being eaten away by competitors?
Here are some examples of how to protect your business:
- A professionalized brand system: If you haven’t had a professional help you with your branding, now would be the time!
- Implementing an SEO strategy: Since social media is so crowded using well well-thought-out SEO strategy will only help you.
- Email automation: Offer a more customized journey for your followers, subscribers, and customers.
Phase 5: Automate the Business
The last phase is all about automation. Doing things that make your business operations and revenue more efficient and predictable.
But here’s how you might think about it:
Paid advertisements: If your systems are in place, your branding looks great, and your landing pages are converting at a high level, paid ads might be a great fit. Ultimately, you want to get to a place where you’re spending $1 to generate $2.
This is basically an automated cash machine.
You could also consider contracting a part-time project manager. Someone who can do a few things for you:
- Organize your assets: With thousands of social media posts, hundreds of newsletters and articles, and tons of questions from followers, you have a massive portfolio of information at your disposal. Consider having someone organize everything for easy access.
- Create a weekly plan: You want to be able to sit down at your computer on Monday morning and not have to think about what you will be doing for the day or week.
I think about my business in terms of years instead of days.
Keep in mind that each of these phases takes time, typically a year or more. Don’t rush it.
Success (in anything) is all about playing the long game.
It takes planning on various levels: setting long-term goals, strategizing every year, planning tactics quarterly, and putting in the effort daily.
And the biggest variable?
Patience. A willingness and determination to outlast most people.
Remember, the ultimate goal of time freedom takes time.
Are you ready to play the long game?
I hope you are.
Today’s action step: Read back through this issue and figure out where you are. Find the relevant suggestions I laid out and choose just one to move forward with next week.