Four Decisions You Must Make Before Becoming a Solo Professional

Being a solo professional is not for the faint of heart. You are responsible for absolutely everything in your business from operations, finance, marketing and sales and management. The buck starts and stops with you. Given you know what product or service you want to offer, let’s look at four decision you must make to be successful.Why do you want to be a solo professional?
This is the first and most important decision. If your reason for being a solo professional is to earn lots of money, you have some more thinking to do. Do you like you as a boss? Do you like you as an employee? Because you are going to be both. You are going to need to be a self-starter because you won’t have a boss giving you projects or tasks to do. You need to have discipline to do the tasks that need to be done to generate income, even the ones you don’t like. Well, you might be able to outsource many tasks to virtual assistants, but ultimately the responsibility is yours. If your why is because you want more control and you are willing to learn whatever it takes to have that freedom, you have a good start.Where will you work?
This will largely depend on the type of product or service you will offer. Some are conducive to working from home, others are not. If you will be spending a lot of time on the phone with clients, be sure to have a quiet, private place to conduct business. There is nothing more annoying than being on the receiving end of a phone conversation with a ton of background noise like someone calling from a coffee shop. If you need to be around people, even if you aren’t working with them, consider finding a business incubator to rent a desk. The incubators share common space like conference rooms and sometimes a receptionist for a monthly fee based on time used. Think of them like a gym membership for your business.How will you market yourself?
You must have a client base. No clients, no business. If you are beginning with an existing client base, you have a good start. Notice, it is just a start. You will need a constant flow of potential new clients coming in your door each month. You must have a solid marketing strategy to move your prospects through your sales funnel to becoming paying clients. You will want this mapped out as much as possible before you venture out on your own.How will you manage cashflow?
As a solo professional you do not have a steady paycheck coming in, therefore you must think about how you are going to smooth out your cashflow. Some weeks are going to be full of income, others will not. You will want to determine a budget for yourself and stick to it. You may be tempted to spend when money is flowing easy, but don’t. Have a system of saving revenue receipts into an account and then pay yourself into another account from which you pay living expenses. This will help you weather the slow times much easier.

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Solo Professional Success – Take a Lesson From General Motors

It may seem counter intuitive for solo professionals to take a lesson from General Motors, given recent events.We all make mistakes in our business; it’s part of the learning process and moving toward success.Sometimes the best lessons are in learning from others the pitfalls to avoid. A friend once told me that if she’s on the path a few steps ahead of others, she wants to help them avoid the sticks, stones, and boulders that can trip them up.My big three takeaways (pun intended) from recent GM events:

The right mix of products and services is vital. Don’t depend on only one to keep your success going. This is one mistake many solo professionals make. We have one core offering and that’s it. Instead, develop a sales cycle of offerings in several price ranges to meet your clients where they are in their business and life. For example, analyze your core offering and find opportunities to re-use the content in ways that create a lower barrier to entry.

Too much debt can spiral out of control and crash your business. This might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s easy to get in over your head, especially if you’re just starting out. One example is continuing education. Many solo professionals (myself included) take workshops, home studies, or coaching programs; they are critical to keeping current skills sharp and developing new ones. Each time you’re considering an educational opportunity, make sure you know the true return on investment and that you will actually apply what you are learning to your business.

Don’t go it alone. Know when to ask for help. While you don’t want uncontrolled debt, you do need to invest in key areas of your business where it makes sense. For example, can a virtual assistant help you better focus on growing your core business? Can a unique educational opportunity catapult your business to the next level? Can that industry association provide support that solo professionals need?