Being a solopreneur means every job within the business falls on your plate, from hiring contractors to driving leads to then nurture into customers.
As you adapt to the various roles you have to play as a business owner, keep these tips and insights in mind.
Navigating the experience will be challenging but watching your business grow is well worth it.
Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)
Marketing is likely one of the first hats you need to wear as a solopreneur because without customers or clients, you don’t have a business. Marketing even comes before sales—you have to drive the leads before you can nurture them.
As the CMO of your business, there are a few duties to master:
- Lead-driving, whether from social media, email marketing, networking or content. Remember that content marketing is an important long-term strategy to put in place early on. Learn some simple tactics to do this in 8 Straight-Forward Content Marketing Tips for Small Businesses.
- Messaging and branding will be important for your business. It’s up to you as the CMO to align your message with your efforts to create a cohesive brand that attracts the right audience.
- Strategic partnerships and event management will also fall onto your plate, whether you’re connecting with other local businesses or managing a booth at a trade show.
These are a few of the most important tasks to keep in mind as your business begins to grow. You can expand with freelance writers and social media managers if you’re not quite ready to hire a full-time employee. In our digital world, this is a critical part of your business and one you can’t overlook.
Director of Sales
Once you start driving leads, you need to convert them as the Director of Sales. Your tactics will depend on your business. Keep these tips in mind from Meghan Casserly, member of the Forbes Entrepreneurs team:
- Forget what you’re selling; don’t lead with the product, lead with questions.
- Push for referrals from customers and your network.
- Cold call—but do your research first. Find ideal customers, don’t go after “anything with a pulse.”
- Find a balance of open and closed questions to reach the “hot button” and make the sale.
- Expand your network. With minimal brand equity, you may have to rely on your personal brand to make some initial sales.
Chief Operations Officer (COO)
The COO plays a large role in every business and that person is you. If you’ve never worked in operations, here are a few tasks that you’ll need to add to your to-do list:
- Inventory tracking: If you sell products, like clothing, inventory tracking is a task you can’t overlook—and you’ll be glad when you take this job seriously: “From a statistical standpoint, this information will help you see which parts of your store do best, and what kinds of items consumers look to buy from you,” according to How to Start an Online Store in 7 Steps. This is especially important as your business grows or has an influx of sales. The same guide continues, “Having an efficiently organized inventory is incredibly helpful—especially during periods where there is a large product demand, i.e. during the holidays or an extravagant sale.”
- Pricing: An important part of your job as the COO is setting pricing for your products and services. Knowing how much to charge—without undercutting yourself or pushing customers away with prices that are too high—will likely be one of your first major challenges. Check out this guide, A Founder’s Guide to Product Pricing, for some guidance as you navigate this part of your business.
- Selecting and managing vendors: Who will you work with? Who offers the most competitive pricing for software? Who will handle your deliveries or shipping? These are all questions for the COO—as a solopreneur, you’ll need to answer these questions yourself.
As a solopreneur, you likely will work with contractors or freelancers, whether you need writers, a web developer or a graphic designer. As such, you need to be the HR specialist and make sure you’re following the legal duties required of you.
The best thing you can do in this position is know your duties and rights as a business with freelance or contract employees. Start with the Independent Contractor Guide from the IRS. Also, make appointments with your lawyer, tax accountant and/or CPA to ensure you’re following all the necessary steps for payments, taxes and general compliance.
Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
Running out of cash is the second most common reason why startups fail, as reported by Forbes. As the CFO of your own business, it’s your job to make sure that doesn’t happen. It’s also important to know when you need to hire a CFO, rather than relying on your own DIY efforts. CFO Selections suggests the times when you may need to hire a CFO:
- During rapid growth: This time requires automated systems, additional capital and financing. “For a company to grow more quickly, a CFO will analyze the company’s current financial position, market trends to implement the best strategies, and improve cash flow and profits.”
- To develop new offerings, markets or products: Your CFO will help identify new opportunities and create a plan for stable growth.
- When profitability is low: A CFO can help you control costs, improve productivity, and analyze pricing strategies to drive profitability.
- When tax planning becomes more complex: Dealing with rules and regulations can become challenging as you grow, not to mention, “A business’s integrity is based on its ability to prepare and disclose accurate financial results and uphold its tax obligations. It may be time to hire a CFO when a company is unable to do so.”
Wear All The Hats Like a Pro
A solopreneur wears many hats, and these are just a few of them. Be prepared to learn, grow and make mistakes along the way. As you adapt yourself to the needs of your business, you’ll be stretched in ways you didn’t expect. When you’re able to do that, you’ll watch your hard work pay off time and time again.
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Funded, in part, through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.