Creating a New Service Offering and Being Impatient

I’m currently evaluating and planning to offer a new service to my target market for my law firm, and it almost feels like going back to square 1 of starting a solopreneur business - except I already have another service offering on the go that does quite well.

But as things flattened out a little with my first service offering and I was looking for other opportunities, I realized there was a great one I wasn’t taking advantage of.

Problem is…

I don’t do so well with the slower, planning phases. Doing product research, market research, create your compelling offer, decide on sales channels, etc.

Some of it can just be slow, and especially with sales outreach, you’re often at the whim of your clients.

It’s a weakness of mine, but (I think) also a gift? Because being impatient tends to spark action, so I’ve learned to turn that impatience into added motivation and action.

So if you’re finding yourself in a slower phase of things, or impatient about something, or anxious… try and channel that to move things forward. Or heck, even channel it towards something else that will benefit you as a person - the gym, a new diet, etc. (I just started up on keto again and I love it).

Anyway, if you’re considering going out on your own or adding a new service offering to your current solopreneur business, I wanted to cover when would be the right time to do so.

I think you need to look for a few main factors/criteria, and because there are so many steps to take in creating a new offer, you shouldn’t spend time, energy and resources on creating one unless it’s the right time and for the right reasons.

Here are the factors I look for, in no particular order:

  • you don’t have a service offering or product yet (duh…)

  • you’ve hit the maximum market share for your current offering

  • you’re bored

  • there is a clear opportunity

  • you would be creating value for customers/servicing a true need

  • it falls within the confines of your current company (unless you want to start a separate one)

The above isn’t a checklist… it’s more of a list of things to consider if you’re stuck or considering offering a new service.

If you’re just starting: is what you’re thinking of trying a clear opportunity, that will create value for customers who actually want it?

In my case, I felt like I was hitting the upper limit of market share for my first offering, had optimized a lot of it and done it so much that it was kinda boring (and easy to outsource), and I found a clear opportunity to offer a followup service to previous clients… it was an easy decision.

Anyway, hope this sheds some light on the topic and if you’re struggling with your new service offering, shoot me an email on my list and I’ll do my best to help.

Don't Overthink Your Solopreneur Business

I wanted to give an ode to all you grinders out there.

Especially all of the solopreneur business owners out there who may be going through some tough times.

I got to thinking about all the solopreneur success stories, the business news articles, major podcasts… and my recent “successes” and lack of flashing lights around my business (not that I ever expect them).

The reality is, as a solopreneur business owner you may never get a “moment to shine” - a flashy news article, podcast appearance, Ted Talk, etc.

And that’s okay.

Because us solopreneur grinders aren’t in it for that.

We’re in it for the freedom of working for ourselves.

We’re in it for the flexible and creative work environment we can create, and work within - not working within the confines of a big business.

We’re in it for the friendships and connections we can make with other amazing people, whether it be clients, our network, fellow entrepreneurs going through the same struggles, etc.

We’re in it to pave our own path.

And we’re in it because we can hit “snooze” any day of the week if we so choose :P

Okay maybe not that one as much…

I’m not so sure about you, but if I never get a moment in the bright lights, I know I’m okay with it… I guess what I’m trying to say here is, I get you and appreciate what you’re doing.

And when things do go well, make sure to reward yourself/celebrate appropriately (and perhaps extravagantly).

Because we all deserve it.

Not only that, but I’ve been struck by a very important realization in the last ~6 months, which is particularly important in the “guru” era we now live in.

If you’re reading this solopreneur blog, it’s because you want to build something great. And if you’re like me, you get tons of ads from gurus, see all the crazy success stories, and just as part of the mass media, know the names of Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, etc.

Since spending the last year or so studying these guys and other online successes like Frank Kern, Grant Cardone and Ben Settle, it finally hit me:

“Successful” people aren’t any more special than we are, and they aren’t “better” than we are. They simply had a goal/vision, and ruthlessly pursued it and committed to it.

What do I mean by this and how does it effect us “normal” folk?

Well, I found myself getting caught up in these super-successful solopreneurs and people and thinking “wow, it must be amazing to be them. Maybe one day that’ll be me”. But after looking deeper, I realized that I think I am on the same path.

I’m nowhere near the end, and make nowhere near as much money as them, but…

These are normal people.

They put their pants on in the morning the same way we do.

Warren Buffet stops at McDonalds for breakfast every morning just like millions of Americans (whether that’s a good thing or not is another story…).

What I’m trying to say is there’s no secret sauce.

Sure, some may be smarter, or born with more of a knack for business knowledge. But at the end of the day, you aren’t going to build a huge solopreneur business without working on it - a lot.

You’re not going to build a huge Instagram following without working on it - a lot.

And you don’t need anything “in your blood” to get it done. So in the famous words of Nike…

Just do it.

P.S. the other thing you should just do if you enjoy reading my content, is join my email list - I send 3 emails a week providing advice, insight and lessons just like in this post!

Why and How to Pick a Niche as a Solopreneur

If you really want to start or grow your own business of almost any kind, my first suggestion is to niche down hard (ie. pick a very specific service offering/target audience).

Why?

Because the more narrow your niche, the easier it will be to find your specific target audience and create a really compelling offer to them.

If you’re a generalist ( eg. a full service lawyer), you’ll have a very broad service offering, you’ll need to become well-versed/educated in a lot of different areas of the law and have a hard time charging premium prices or creating targeted ads because your audience is… everyone?

Alternatively, you could specialize as a divorce lawyer. You now need to know one area of the law (family), you know exactly who your target market is (married men/women probably in their late 20s to 40s) and if you do a great job, will be known as “the divorce guy/gal” and get lots of referrals for the exact thing you’ve already mastered.

Think of all those advantages:

  • your work will be easier because you’re doing a similar process over and over

  • you know exactly who to market to

  • because of that ^, you can create better advertising, likely for cheaper

  • referrals will come more naturally

  • you can charge more as an expert!!!

As an aside, it took me about 5-6 months to find my very narrow niche when I started my firm last year so don’t worry if you’re not there yet. In fact if you don’t have one yet, you should be excited at the opportunity to pick one.

Once I did find my niche, my revenue started going up fairly quickly (it was very low until then as I tested different niches).

Anyway, if growing your revenue is currently a goal of yours, do a quick check - are you niched down enough or offering very general services?

Let me go into some more detail on how I started out and then found my niche…

For the first few months after I started my immigration law practice, I didn’t have a niche and just trying to communicate with potential clients was hard because I didn’t know enough about each area of immigration law.

After about 3 months of struggling, I narrowed my target market down to 2 potential niches:

1) Permanent Resident (PR) applications for skilled workers looking to move to Canada

2) Helping Canadian companies sponsor tech workers through work permit applications

Why did I pick those?

Because they were newer programs implemented by the government, very popular, all applications could be submitted online (easier than paper applications) and the tech scene in Canada is currently booming (remember, don’t throw darts in the dark here… consider the market/pros/cons before picking a niche).

Also, notice how specific those 2 niches are…

After 1 month of testing out and trying to sell those 2 - because again, the fewer niches the better - it became clear that there were more companies willing to pay for those services (niche #2) than individuals looking to pay for PR services (niche #1).

So I niched down hard with option #2 and:

  • I noticed there was no content on Youtube talking about this new program, so I put up a hand full of videos that lead to about 1-2 leads a month

  • I did highly targeted LinkedIn outreach because I knew my customers would be Canadian tech companies big enough to sponsor foreign tech workers

  • I saved time communicating with potential clients because by then, I knew the program inside-and-out since it was the only work I was doing

  • I started getting referrals because when a customer’s friend asked about the program, I was “the guy they used” so they passed me on

Anyway, don’t want to beat a dead horse here but I did want to give you a real-life example of how niching down played out for me. To be honest, it may have been the single biggest reason for my current success.

But anyway, that’s it for today. Make sure you’re either niched down enough or at the very least, testing out a few potential niches, and see what it does for your business in the next 2-3 months.

And if you liked this content, make sure to join my email list where I send 3 emails per week giving business and solopreneur advice just like this!

Why Copywriting is Important for Solopreneur Marketing

One skill I think every solopreneur should have at least some experience or knowledge about is copywriting.

No I don’t mean copyrighting, aka the legal term (snooze…). I mean copywriting, as in the art of writing in order to get your reader to do something (usually to buy something), such as in emails, on landing pages, social media, etc.

Why do I think this?

As a solopreneur or entrepreneur, you’re running a business so sales and marketing will always be important. Doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, a business always needs sales and marketing to drive revenue. Your solopreneur marketing strategies may include cold emails, paid ads, phone calls, in-person meetings, blog posts, etc. Or you may need to hire salespeople and know how to evaluate them.

Understanding how to craft a good sales message will help with all of the above.

And if you learn even just the basics of copywriting, you’ll not only become a better writer, you’ll become much better at crafting a sales pitch and marketing material, even if it’s to write a script to use on your cold sales calls.

If you want to start learning and improving your solopreneur marketing, one great free resource is The Boron Letters. They are 25 pretty short letters written by Gary Halbert, one of the greatest copywriters ever, to his son, teaching him about life and how to write great sales copy. I have read through them twice in the last few years, and any half-decent copywriter will know and have read them.

Note: the first 4 chapters are more about health and life than writing good copy, but they’re examples of great writing and storytelling. Don’t just take the tips and strategies Gary teaches, analyze his writing and you’ll spot them in action even when he isn’t writing about copy!

Trust me, they’re amazing.

And if you haven’t spent much time learning to write good copy, ask yourself this: are you making use of every single written word you have posted online?

What I mean by this is - you have emails to write, Instagram bio’s/descriptions to write, websites to write.

How much thought goes into the language on those pages, and are you making the most use of them?

I re-wrote 1 of my SG landing pages over the weekend and it got me thinking about all of the potential for good copywriting out there - especially thanks to social media.

I love copywriting and have studied it extensively, but as you know, we don’t all have hours of free time to study every topic ever created.

But what I notice about a lot of solopreneur marketing and content is that the writer overlooks how important every single written word is - whether it’s on your website, an email, a social media account profile, or anywhere! And because of this, you may be missing out on opportunities to get more of your audience to do more of what you want them to do (sign up for your email list, buy a product, etc.).

For example: Your Instagram profile description - that is copy! That is a prime opportunity to improve your solopreneur marketing and maybe get a few extra visitors to do whatever it is you’d like them to.

For example, your IG profile shouldn’t be: “Hey I’m Dan and I like bracelets and live in Wyoming.”

It should be: “Dan - Home-made Bracelet Shop - See our hottest deals below!”

Do you see the difference? Which one do you think would make a reader more likely to click the link in Dan’s bio?

Obviously that’s just a quick example without any IG formatting, but hopefully you get the point.

Action item: read the Boron Letters then go check all of your social media accounts and/or websites and think: is this the best messaging I could be using to get my readers to do what I want them to (ethically and morally, of course)?

This can be your IG bio, your website (every page of it), your email signature, your Facebook group description…

And if you need any help, just shoot me an email at josh (at) solopreneurgrind (dot) com

I love analyzing/writing copy and am happy to help.

Oh and obviously don’t forget to join the SG email list, where I send an email every week with my best business insight and content… see what I did there? ;)

Setting Goals For Your Solopreneur Business

Welcome to 2019! With the new year always comes a big focus on goal setting, so I wanted to touch on it briefly. Since starting my own law firm (about 15 months ago), I’ve noticed how important it is to goal set and track - especially as a solopreneur.

Why?

Because you don’t have a boss.

You don’t have anyone to answer to.

You don’t have corporate goals to hit.

So who or what is going to keep you on track, motivated and with a measure of success to compare yourself with?

You are, by setting and tracking high-quality goals for your solopreneur business.

I just finished setting my themes, goals and laws (rules that I must follow...I know I know, I’m a lawyer...I can’t help it...) for the year. These are split up into my firm goals, Solorepeneur Grind goals, and personal goals (income for the year, savings rate, exercise regimen, etc.).

If you want to take a peek at my 2019 goals, shoot me a DM (@solopreneurgrind on insta) and I’ll send them over if you need an example. I also want to go a little deeper into goals because I don’t just want to give surface-level advice here - I want to give you something deeper and actionable.

Last year I did an okay job of setting goals, but did a bad job of tracking them…and it hurt me.

Let me explain.

November was a tough month for me emotionally. Things were getting busier, inevitably there were some business issues that came up, one file blew up in my face and it was affecting my mood, stress levels and sleep.

To be frank, it kind of sucked and I wasn’t feeling too good about myself.

Then the end of the month came around and I calculated my monthly billings to send to my bookkeeper…and lo and behold, I had a record setting month! I couldn’t believe it and was truly ecstatic for the rest of the week.

Now, the point of that story wasn’t to #humblebrag… it was because I learned a serious lesson. Mainly, that because I was so focused on my work and was only tracking one of my key goals/metrics once a month, it was easy to fall into the daily grind and forget about the bigger picture.

I got consumed with the work and the negatives and didn’t step back to evaluate or breathe until the end of the month - crazy!

Anyway, don’t make that mistake. I recommend keeping tabs on a few important goals/trackers every 1-2 weeks to keep you more grounded with your business. Could be billings, sales, client calls, cold emails written, instagram posts, whatever.

Just have a few and stay on top of them - and when you hit those targets, enjoy it!

Hope this helps with your solopreneur business and if you want more insight like this, make sure to join the email list. All the best.