When most people think of successful businesses, they think of big corporations with thousands upon thousands of workers. But success in the business world doesn’t have to look like that. In fact, you can create a successful long-term business with little — or no — help from anyone else.
Believe it or not, you don’t have to hire a team of workers and grow into a multinational corporation to find lasting success. You can build a strong business pretty much on your own as long as you follow a few best practices.
Start With A Strong Vision
It’s been said that people perish where there is no vision — and that’s definitely true of your business. Quite simply, if you want your business to stand the test of time, you have to start with a plan. How do you want it to grow? What do you want it to look like five years from now? Ten?
While pretty much every solopreneur will need to pivot or adjust their plans at some point, starting with a strong vision and framework for what you want to achieve is essential for guiding your work.
Your plan can (and should) include everything from potential services to add on in the future to how you will find new clients and calendar out your working hours. The more detailed your plan, the easier it will be to stay on track and stay motivated as you get to work.
Treat Your Business Like A Business
There’s a big difference between a real, legit business and a hobby. A hobby is something you do in your free time, with little direction or plans for making a living. A business is much more involved, and you need to treat it with the respect it deserves.
As part of this, founders must evaluate their business structure and then legally establish themselves appropriately. Being a sole proprietor may be the simplest solution if you’re working as an independent contractor.
But as a sole proprietor, you’re fully responsible for all profits and debt — including if, for whatever reason, you’re hit with a lawsuit. Forming an LLC offers liability protection that sole proprietorship doesn’t offer. Some solopreneurs may even need to incorporate.
Making things “official” by forming an LLC may sound scary, but it’s a surefire way to give you the motivation to work hard at your business. Perhaps even more importantly, it can give you greater legitimacy in the eyes of your clients.
Diversify Your Income Streams
If you want your business to last, you need to make money. But all too often, founders will focus exclusively on a single product or service as their source of revenue. They may be super great at this one thing, but when that one thing is no longer in demand…
That business isn’t going to last much longer.
Todd Snively, co-founder of Expert University, made a great point of this during a recent email conversation. He explained, “Longevity in business is usually dependent on not having all your eggs in one basket. Businesses that last rely on multiple revenue streams so that even if one source of income is lost, they still have a way to make money. Markets change all the time. The needs of clients can change. The more diverse your revenue sources, the better you’ll be able to handle any market turbulence or other setbacks.”
Take a look at your niche to identify ways you can diversify your sources of income. For some solopreneurs, it might be as simple as adding new clients. Or, you could expand your list of available services — like someone who designs print ads for local businesses starting to offer digital design services.
Know When To Outsource
As much as you might like the idea of doing everything yourself, chances are, you won’t be able to work like that forever.
This isn’t a bad thing. After all, you can’t be an expert at everything. In fact, there’s probably a lot of business-related activities you suck at — and that would be a total disaster if you tried to do them yourself.
Fortunately, with outsourcing options like Fiverr and People Per Hour, it’s never been easier to find those who can help with the tasks you’re not so good at. Best of all, by working with other freelancers, you can avoid the extra complications that come with hiring full-time employees.
Whether you’re hiring other freelancers for bookkeeping or help building your website, this will give you more time to focus on the things you’re good at — the activities that will help you find new clients and grow your business.
Building A Brand That Lasts
Whether your business idea stays as little more than a side hustle or turns into a lasting, legitimate business is ultimately up to you. While putting in the hours of hard work is essential to get going, what will make or break your business in the long run is your ability to work smarter.
When you do this, you can increase your revenue without necessarily needing to hire a team of employees to work under you. Yes, there are some limitations to staying solo, but for many, the flexibility and freedom that come with it are well worth the trade-off.