When I was a kid, I was pretty hyper. I wasn’t the type to sit around and watch TV or hang out inside (unless it was Saturday morning when the classic cartoons were on). I loved spending time outside running around, riding bikes, having dirt clod fights with friends, and just having adventures.
At the first instinct of possible excitement outside… other kids yelling, inspiration for a new fort that needed building … I would tear through our kitchen and out the backdoor to see what I was missing or what fun I could create. Just as I would reach the backdoor, my mom would always ask, “Where do you think you’re going?”
“Aaahhhh … outside.”
“Yeah, but where?”
“I don’t know.”
I had no idea. I always figured, I’ll make it up as I go along. Who plans playing? As a kid, this was an acceptable answer. I didn’t have any responsibilities and my mom was usually happy to let us kids burn off some energy outside, so it was a win + win.
However, as I work with a number of solopreneurs, I get a similar answer when I ask them where they plan on going with their businesses. They may have some idea … often vague, but somehow ended up in the promise land of making money.
And their story starts in a similar way … the inspiration to go do something kicks in or the sense of an opportunity to make money catches their attention and suddenly they’re off and running.
The difference is kids can play, solopreneurs need to plan. The consequences are much greater as a solopreneur. Besides burning a lot of energy running around, you can burn a lot of money and time, too. And usually, you can’t afford to.
I understand, when an opportunity or passion presents itself, you want to take action … and you should. Don’t hold yourself back. But, can you afford to just figure it out as you go along? While this may seem like more fun or more productive, it’s hard to get anywhere if you don’t really know where you are going.
1. Learn the rules.
Think about it this way, when was the last time that someone asked you to play a game and you just started playing without knowing what the rules were and what you stood to win? Once you understood what it took to win, it gave focus to the moves you made to get there. Business isn’t any different. The best way to learn the rules is to do your research.
You may want to make it up as you go along, but your prospects don’t. They already have reasons and habits for using the competing solutions. How are you going to convince them to switch to your products or services by asking them to take a chance with you on your plan of “let’s see what happens”?
You can then make recommendations to your customers how to play the “game” game better once you understand how to play it.
2. Start with the end in mind.
Before you just go running out the door, have a vision of what you would like your future to look like and whom you would like to be there to enjoy it with you. Then, stop and take some time to create goals. Your goals will be your guideposts along the way. They will keep you focused and motivated.
The key to your goals setting is that you establish clear, concise goals that are within your control to achieve. Goal setting goes awry when solopreneurs set goals of wanting “more …” without setting a specific target date. Wanting “more” prospects is nice, but it’s more effective to set a goal of a specific number of prospects by a specific date.
If you are having trouble envisioning where you solopreneur startup is going, take a step back and do your research to see what you know about your prospects, what their needs and wants are, how they are currently satisfying them, and where the opportunity exists for you to create a better experience for them. And then set your goals.
Need help accomplishing this? Drop me a line.
The Solopreneur’s Guide