This is post 1 of 10 in a series discussing the essential steps for launching a successful, sustainable solopreneur business. If you missed the disclaimer post, it is important you take a minute to read it before going forward. Here’s the link to the post.
Now on with today’s discussion. In the remainder of this post, I will use the term “product” to cover products and services.
Before you get started thinking about money, business plans, profitable products, and what type of legal structure offers the best tax advantages, you need to define your UVP (Unique Value Proposition) and / or prime prospects first. I say “and / or” only because depending upon your inspiration for starting a new business, either one can come first while the other will always come in a close second, almost simultaneously.
For example, when I created The Solopreneur’s Guide along with my consulting and writing services, my primary passion was to assist solo entrepreneurs. From this passion, I created my UVP based upon what specific talents and experience I had that could benefit solopreneurs to create a successful, sustainable business. You, on the other hand, may realize that you have a special talent or invention that you want to offer and then define your prime prospects based upon that talent or invention.
It doesn’t matter which of these you define first. As a matter of fact, you may change both after going through some of the steps in this series. That’s OK. But, you need to get started here.
Why is it so important to define your UVP and prime prospects first?
Because these two key elements define everything else you create for your business … from your market research, to your business plan, your marketing campaigns, the products you develop … everything. Do not skip this step.
Let’s do a quick Q & A to make sure we are in agreement about why you are thinking about starting your solopreneur business (or have already started, but need help).
Q: What’s the primary purpose of a business?
A: Unless you are a charity, your answer should be to generate profits. This doesn’t negate the importance of having empathy for your prime prospects with a desire to resolve a specific problem or satisfy a need for them. However, if you don’t generate a profit, your services won’t last for long.
Q: How do you generate profits?
A: By convincing a specific audience to buy your products.
Q: How can you succeed at selling if you do not have a clear definition of who your prime prospects are and the benefit they will receive from buying your products?
A: You may be an extremely talented, tenacious, competitive solopreneur who can sell anything, but you will limit your success and lifespan of your business greatly without having a well-defined UVP and prime prospects.
Let’s drill down further on these two critical elements.
UNIQUE VALUE PROPOSITION
Your UVP simply states (often in 10 words or less) why prospects should buy from you.
Your UVP is a combination of the following elements:
- Identification of your target market
- The primary benefit your target market receives by working with your business
- An indication of your products and services
- What makes you unique
With that being said, not all elements need to be extensively defined through numerous paragraphs. You will further describe your UVP (and how you achieve it) in your business plan and ultimately in your marketing strategies and sales tactics. Your UVP should be concise.
Let’s take a look at a couple of UVPs:
Fed Ex: “When your package absolutely, positively has to get there overnight.”
Domino’s Pizza: “You get fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less … or it’s free.”
The Solopreneur’s Guide: “Helping solopreneurs create and grow successful, sustainable businesses.”
Still having trouble determining how to create your UVP? Let’s take a look at some common mistakes solopreneurs make with regards to their UVP.
1. They don’t create one.
Unless you buy into a packaged program or franchise where they create a UVP for you, it is imperative that you create an advantage for your business to succeed. Your advantage starts with a well-defined UVP.
2. They create a UVP that tries to catch a broad audience.
You cannot possibly be all things to all people, so don’t try. The more defined your UVP, the better chance you have of capturing and dominating your market while charging prices based upon value. The more bland and generic you make your UVP, you diminish your value, increase your number of competitors, and often compete solely on price. Do you prefer to achieve your financial goals though multiple sales from a few faithful customers or struggle to get one-time sales from a very large, unreliable audience?
3. They create a UVP based upon their business model and features, and not in terms of the benefit for their prime prospects.
There’s a saying when creating copy for your marketing: “Sell a good night’s sleep – not the mattress.” Your prime prospects are only concerned about how your products will benefit them. Creating an effective UVP is the same. If after reading your UVP, you prime prospects are left asking, “so what”, your message needs improvement.
4. They hide their UVP.
I state my UVP at the top of the page under my site name. I include it on proposals, contracts and in all marketing communications. If you take a minute to look through the sites of smaller businesses, you will find many hide their UVP somewhere in the content of their site (if they have one at all) usually in a lengthy description.
Before we go further, please check out a previous post I wrote titled, “Defining a ‘Good’ Prospect”. Click here to read it. When you’re finished, come back to this discussion.
Let me give you a helpful hint for defining your prospect that most coaches and consultants skip. Most coaches and consultants define prospects in terms of demographics only – age, race, religion, sex, affluence, location, etc.
While demographics provide strong background data, the real connection comes from making your prime prospect human. People do business with people. For you to “know” your prospect, you have to humanize their wants, their needs, their fears, their hobbies, and so forth. Name them.
How does this help? If you want a successful, sustainable business, you must have empathy for your prime prospects.
Which of the following two examples are you more likely to have empathy for?
a) People between the ages of 25 – 55.
b) Donna, a determined 42 year old married solopreneur, mother of two young children, who needs help launching her home-based, homeopathic, beauty supply business to pay for her mortgage and some past-due medical bills while saving some money towards one vacation a year with the family. She likes to learn the latest in internet marketing and listens to classic, alternative 80’s music. She’s concerned that although she needs to earn an extra income her new business will force her to work 14 hours a day, sacrificing much-needed time with her husband and kids.
While your prime target may not be Donna, do you personalize your prospects? It is through this process that you can truly test whether you give a damn about Donna or not. If you find you don’t really care who Donna is, chances are you are looking at Donna as a paycheck.
This lack of empathy for your prime prospects will only take you so far before you find yourself miserable and ready to make another job change. Better to find out who you do care about and focus your talents to help that market than chase after the almighty dollar.
Please leave me comments or write me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or need further help defining these two essential issues for your solopreneur start-up.
Next up in the series, “Perform Market Research”.
All the Best,
The Solopreneur’s Guide