What determines success for Solo entrepreneurs

As the majority of entrepreneurs in South Africa start out as solo entrepreneurs I thought it may be useful to consider what exactly it is that makes solo entrepreneurs successful. Its already well known hat effective market research the the creation of a well thought out business plan makes a real difference but so does the attitude and commitment of the entrepreneur. The point-of-view or perspective the solopreneur has on how to operate his/her business determines the speed at which he/she achieves the success he/she desires.

1. Marketing is more important than mastery.

    Being a master of his craft, skill, or talent doesn't ensure
    that the solopreneur will be successful in his business. He
    can be the greatest at what he does, and if nobody knows about
    him, he's quickly out of business. Yes, it's important that
    he deliver a quality service. But it's even more important
    that he consistently and appropriately promote his business.

2. Risk is always reducible.

    Everyone faces risk -- in life and in business. And risk is
    always reducible. The solopreneur may find that at times,
    even after she's reduced the risk, it is still too costly.
    Great! She just needs to find another path to the goal.
    Tip: Make sure your clients know that you're also helping
    them reduce risk -- it makes you more valuable.

3. There is usually an easier or better way.

    No matter what strategy, process, or procedure is under
    consideration, there is usually an easier or better way. The
    solopreneur needs to think beyond the traditional ways of
    solving a problem, creating a deliverable, or accomplishing
    an outcome. Doing so will result in finding a new, better,
    easier, faster, less expensive, or less risky way.

4. Delay is unacceptably expensive.

    Today the windows of opportunities open more often and shut
    more quickly than ever before. Delay lets those opportunities
    pass by without the solopreneur or his client being able to
    take advantage of them. When the soloprenuer reduces or
    eliminates delay in her business, it can have the added
    effects of reducing costs in projects, increasing her perceived
    value to her clients, and giving her more opportunities for

5. Self-confidence can be arranged.

    The solopreneur doesn't need to rely on himself to create
    a sense of confidence. Nor does he need to wait until he has
    attained a high degree of mastery in his services. Instead, he
    can arrange for support structures and encouragement, and
    can design situations that feed him the confidence he needs.

6. The answer is somewhere.

    Does the solopreneur have the answer? Does her client have
    the answer? Does a competitor have the answer? Is the answer
    on the Internet? The point is that it doesn't really matter
    where the answer is, but that there is an answer somewhere.
    And it's up to the solopreneur and her client to find it.
    Knowing that the answer is somewhere, but that she isn't the
    only source for the answer, releases the solopreneur from
    needing to be the "answer person." This, in turn, frees up
    her energy for collaborating with her client in finding the

7. Problems don't exist.

    Okay, this one might require a big shift in perspective.
    Especially if the solopreneur thinks of himself as a problem
    solver! Flip it over and what you have is an opportunity,
    not a problem. An opportunity for the solopreneur to showcase
    his magnificence. An opportunity to challenge his knowledge,
    perceptions, and beliefs. An opportunity to really get

8. Everything is a project.

    Regardless of what service the solopreneur provides to
    her clients, she is a project manager. Running a business,
    whether for one person or 500, is a series of projects.
    Creating the business identity is a project. Creating the
    web site is a project. Upgrading the company's technology
    is a project. So is creating and implementing a marketing
    plan. Successful soloprenuers use project management tools
    and techniques to save time and keep the business on the
    right track.

9. The client is always right, or just say "No!"

    Enter the paradox. Successful solopreneurs don't "go
    along to get along" with their clients. As the hired-gun
    professional, the client wants the solopreneur's expertise
    and needs the solopreneur's insights. Although the client
    is always the final decision maker, she doesn't always
    know what's best. The solopreneur needs to tell the client,
    gently and gracefully, when she is going down the wrong
    path, misusing her resources, or being unreasonable.

    The solopreneur's Ideal Clients will love it when he
    says "No!" in this way. His Clients from Hell won't, but
    then these clients will receive the ultimate refusal from
    the solopreneur -- not to work with them again.

10. It's all solvable, or it's not.

    When the solopreneur approaches her business, clients,
    and projects from the perspective that it's all solvable,
    her options open up. Determining that it's not solvable,
    for whatever reason, releases energy and resources for
    more appropriate action.

11. Success requires mistakes -- lots of them!

    The solopreneur won't stay in business long if he hides
    his mistakes or blames them on others, the system, or
    the processes. Our best growth and most important lessons
    come from making mistakes and then correcting them.

    By the way, most people avoid even the possibility of
    failing (because they don't understand that failure is
    a requirement for success)!

12. Creeping excellence beats perfection.

    The solopreneur can't afford the luxury of being a
    perfectionist -- and neither can many of her clients.
    Instead, the soloprenure who is successful has adopted
    the habit of creeping excellence, in which she ensures
    that everything she does is just a bit better than
    it was the last time, leaving everything better than
    when she found it. Creeping excellence reduces the time
    and costs racked up by perfectionism. Perfectionists
    spend 80% of their time and resources perfecting the
    last 20% of everything. Encourage the solopreneur to do
    what she does best and hire others to do the cleanup.

13. Focus is power.

    "If you chase two rabbits, both will escape."
    Chinese Proverb

    Being a Jack-of-all-trades is a sure way to fail as
    a solopreneur. The solopreneur can't market his
    business to the entire world -- he doesn't have the
    time, money, or energy for that. Encourage the
    solopreneur to narrow it down to one market segment
    of Ideal Clients for whom he provides one primary
    service. That's not only doable, it's powerful!

    Another place to apply the power of focus in in
    stopping the multi-tasking. It takes 4 mintues to
    return to the same level of concentration each time
    a person is interrupted. Staying in the flow increases
    productivity, efficiency, and creativity.

14. The goal's the thing, not the plan.

    To what does the solopreneur commit? The plan or
    the goal? If the solopreneur is getting the same
    unacceptable results over and over, he is committed
    to the plan. To change the results, get a new plan!

15. Independent employment is joyous!

    What good is owning a business if it doesn't bring
    the solopreneur pleasure?  When work is joyous for
    the solopreneur, her clients find her easier and
    happier to work with. And that increases their
    enjoyment in working with the solopreneur, which
    enhances her chances for a long-term, profitable
    relationship with them.

As many of the points above show, its not just the business plan, product or service and the industry that determines the success of the business but much depends on the entrepreneur and the attitude and drive that s/he is showing in working towards making that dream become a reality.


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