One of the standard jokes of solopreneurs is “If you hear me talking to myself, don’t worry—I’m just holding a staff meeting.” While there’s a lot to be said for the simplicity of being a one-person operation, we sometimes get complacent in how we run our business. This year, I decided to give my business a voice in setting my New Year’s resolutions, as a way to think more expansively about what I need to add, drop or change in 2020. Here are a few of the pieces of advice my business is showing me:
Look at what projects and clients been profitable in 2019 and figure out how to attract more clients like that. Note that these aren’t necessarily the clients you did the most work for, but who values you enough to pay you top dollar? How did you find your most profitable clients? Have some reality-check interviews with those clients to find out what they most value about your services, and assume that it’s probably NOT what you think it will be. Consider how you can attract more clients who also value that aspect about what you do.
Review your marketing efforts over the past year and evaluate how well those efforts translated into paying clients. Are you spending too much time on social media without any profitable work you can associate with those efforts? Reexamine what your value message is, who you are sending that message to, and how you describe yourself. Are you positioning yourself as a thought leader in your field or are you offering a service that your clients perceive to be a commodity? If you’re having trouble finding clients who need, value and can pay you well, see my blog post Help—I Still Don’t Have Any Clients.
Spend less time “working” and more time focused on outcomes. It’s easy to come into the office in the morning, go through your email, read and update your social media, and take a quick sneak at the news, and suddenly look up to see that it’s noon. Instead, read Leo Babauta’s Zen Habits blog post “How to Have More Focused Hours in Your Day” and start the day with a clear intention of how you want to spend focused time working toward tangible, measurable outcomes—a new client, a referral, an invitation to speak, and so on.
Build a new skill. It doesn’t matter how many years you’ve been in business—if you’re not improving your professional skills, you’re falling behind. In 2019, I decided to master the backstage elements of videoconferencing on Zoom. Knowing that the best way for me to learn a skill is to keep doing it until I figure out all the ways I can break it, I volunteered to lead AIIP’s Virtual Events Committee and we started doing two or three virtual meetings a month. This year, I’m focused on how to create engaging live online workshops, and in a few weeks I’ll be announcing a free virtual workshop that I’m offering on reality-check interviews. (And for the beekeeping nerds among us, the other new skill I’m working on is starting my first top bar hive this spring with my bee partner.)
What is your business suggesting YOU add to your New Year’s resolutions?