With the small business sector growing at a rapid pace, many people are falling in love with the idea of becoming their own boss. While the concept may be tantalizing on the surface, the demand of marketing, selling, and providing a service can become exhausting and confusing.
Service providers don't always consider the difference between being an entrepreneur and a solopreneur.
An entrepreneur typically sets his or her sights on building a scalable business that can survive without them. The business is branded and positioned to be managed by a team. And someday the company may even become a publicly traded enterprise, sold, or handed down to the founder's heirs.
A solopreneur, unlike an entrepreneur who is building a branded business, is branding themselves only—and, hence, expansion opportunities may seem limited.
"When you start layering your business with products and additional services it's advisable that you begin slowly by modifying your time for dollars services," says business strategist and author Suzanne Duret. Duret has founded a total of seven companies and has consulted with CEOs of hundreds of small and mid-sized businesses. She is especially adept at helping soloists grow beyond their personal brand to create multiple streams of revenue.
Whether you are in the early planning stage for your business or examining your options for growth, it's important to consider your long term vision. Do you intend to remain a solopreneur, branding your name and services, or will you eventually want to brand a company name so that you can someday step aside and execute a profitable exit strategy?
"Most solopreneurs can't scale to a six or seven figure business by trading time for dollars," says Duret. "You have to consider expanding into areas that include group programs, live events, webinars, and information products to name a few."
Physical fitness trainer Colleen Riddle spent more than a year researching her options for growth. "I was extremely stressed about money," she says. "I was able to pay the bills, but that was all."
Riddle decided it was time to move from operating as a solopreneur and become a full-fledged entrepreneur. She began by researching possible niches.
"I discovered that the world is full of new moms who want to lose their baby weight," says Riddle. "But not everyone can afford a personal trainer." With this discovery, Riddle's mind worked overtime, asking "how can I create a system to help them and to make money in my sleep?"
The result is a product she calls New Mommy Makeover, a post natal DVD system that took most of Riddle's savings to create. But it was money well-spent. In 2011 New Mommy Makeover was recognized by sheknows.com as the best post-natal DVD system on the market and Riddle's product took off. She is now generating a satisfying income from her combined offerings, which include her DVD system, personal training sessions, and nutritional product sales.
"By adding less expensive, group related programs and information products to your business model you will meet the masses, rather than individual clients, and your revenues will increase accordingly," Duret advises.
"One of the ways to develop products is to simply reproduce one or more of the services you are currently offering," she says. "For instance, create a group program or an event, record the informational pieces and use them to create an audio or video product."
Duret emphasizes that research is important: "Be sure to ask your clients and prospects what they need and want and do something that sets you apart from the competition."
Consider these additional options to expand your visibility, customer base, and bottom line. Be creative! Think outside of your niche and never limit the possibilities.
- Write an eBook or self-publish your book. This will give you credibility and become a platform for other tangible products that you are going to develop.
- Bring in other service providers to do the work. These providers will become a revenue source immediately. They may pay rent, expand your types of service to attract a more diverse client base, or commit to bringing in a specific number of clients each month.
- Offer a compatible product line. Colleen Riddle chose a nutrition product, what options are available to you?
- Research additional niches. Is there an opportunity to extend your products and services to a whole new demographic?