A common mistake I see with new solopreneurs and entrepreneurs is that they build a plan before they have a strategy.
95% of solopreneurs and entrepreneurs start like this.
- Build a website
- Create a social media profile
- Launch a test product with a landing page
This approach feels right, but it’s premature.
A smarter and more productive step is to build your solopreneur strategy.
Strategy is the collection of decisions you make that give you an advantage in a sandbox where you can win.
Once you have a strategy, you can start to build your plan.
Build Your Solopreneur Strategy with 3 Questions
- What 1 BIG client problem will you solve?
- Can you win in your sandbox?
- Will people pay for it?
I started my first business in finance with an MBA and eight years of ‘on the street’ experience. I thought my education and experience would be the keys to success. Big mistake.
Help folks grow their money for today and tomorrow.
I had amazing products, graphs, formulas, and solutions. They meant nothing.
What I needed was a solopreneur strategy to address the three key questions.
I had to figure out the 1 BIG money problem folks wanted me to solve.
Once I had the problem (and it took a while to find it), I could offer a solution.
When folks saw how the solution fixed their BIG money problem, they became clients.
That was step 1 of a 14-plus-year career leading a firm with a solid strategy. Growth was easier from that moment forward.
If you’re interested in a different perspective on strategy vs. a plan, you can check out this resource via HBR.
Build Your Solopreneur Strategy to Solve 1 BIG Client Problem
To find the 1 BIG client problem, start with the little ones. The little problems are popcorn.
Pick them up and follow the trail.
- Folks want to write a novel but don’t know how to start.
- Folks have a story idea but don’t know how to frame it.
- Folks don’t know how to sell their stories.
Combine these little problems to find the BIG problem. Then, build your solopreneur strategy.
The BIG client problem:
How does a first-time writer go from saying, “I don’t know what to write” to saying, “Thank you for coming to my book signing event?”
This type of BIG client problem is a process problem. You can also solve a product problem or a system problem.
Look for the popcorn and reverse engineer back to the BIG issue.
Build Your Solopreneur Strategy to Win in Your Sandbox
Competition in the solopreneur space is tough, I admit.
Here’s the good news:
Most solopreneurs have little idea how to pick the right sandbox. They either pick a space where they have no chance to win or a space that is too small to matter.
When you find the sandbox that gives you a 60–75% chance of winning, you have built a sharper solopreneur strategy.
- Instead of a solution to help all realtors, pick realtors in your city that sell homes to a specific group of buyers and sellers.
- Instead of a solution to aid all career coaches, pick coaches who guide the C-suite in tech.
- Instead of designing a SaaS system for all startups, pick the ones in healthcare that cater to oncology.
- Your single objective here is to find a sandbox that has potential and where you can build an advantage through differentiation.
Build Your Solopreneur Strategy So People Pay for Your Solution
A quick review:
Step 1 is to find the BIG client problem
Step 2 is to pick the right sandbox
Step 3 is to confirm that people will pay for your solution
There are hundreds of pricing strategies.
I suggest two pricing options to start.
Offer the product for free to a small group of people in your sandbox. Test it and ask for feedback.
When demand moves up, attach a price to the offer.
Sell the product on day 1.
You may not get the same feedback as you would with a free option, yet sales volume numbers tell you everything you need to know.
If you sell the product on day 1 I suggest a sales price on the higher end of the scale.
Commodity pricing is a tough game. You send the wrong message if you undercut your competition on price.
You’ll have to win on volume. This is not an easy gig.
Instead, pick the higher price range and then tailor the solution to those who can afford it.
Starting a business from home offers career flexibility, but there are challenges to running a home business.
Once you answer these 3 strategy questions below, it’s time to build your solopreneur business plan.
- Find the 1 BIG client problem
- Pick the sandbox where you can win with your solution
- Confirm people will pay for your solution