One thing that many solopreneur businesses have in common is that the business model effectively exchanges time for money. What I mean is that the solopreneur is being paid for doing work. This means that if they want to double their income, they will need to double the hours that they work. Many of the solopreneurs we talk to would like to find a way to increase revenue without increasing hours.
If you’re one of them, you’ve come to the right place. The ideas here will probably look a lot like the advice you may see elsewhere. However, there is more to it than just doing a new thing.
You will need to rethink your business in the process. This does not need to be rocket science, but if you don’t do it, you’ll likely be disappointed in the results.
What’s Your Business Type?
I am assuming here that you are currently trading time for money. That said, there are different types of businesses that do this, and this will determine which approaches you should consider and which you should avoid.
- The first is what I call Coaching. This is where you help someone work on a problem or learn to do something. It’s about self-improvement. They may be life coaches, accountability coaches, performance coaches, success coaches, career coaches, or even therapists.
- The second is Consulting. This is like coaching but tends to be more business-related/ functional and less about personal development. These include consulting on finance/retirement, team building, and marketing. There are many other types of consultants as well.
- Next is Freelancing. Freelancers have a skill and apply it to produce a work product for the client. These include website design, graphic design, professional photography, copywriting, animation, software development, social media marketing, voiceovers, and more. This list is almost limitless.
- Last are Virtual Assistants. These are people that help with whatever you need help with. It is often administrative, but I have seen VAs (as they are called) help with social media, podcast production, and more. The difference here from a freelancer is that one person has multiple skills.
Determine which category your business fits into the best.
Look at this table:
This will let you focus on the strategies that make sense for your business. Let’s look at each and see what you need to think about.
Ways to Increase Revenue Without increasing Hours
The idea here is to take something you do for an individual and turn it (or something close to it) into a group session. For example, let’s say you charge $100/hour as a coach. Now, imagine you create a group coaching session for 6 people and charge $30/hour for each participant. You are now making $180 per hour… nearly double. Additionally, you’ve increased your addressable market. People that could not afford $100 per hour may be able to afford $30.
Things to Consider
You will need to research whether there is actual demand for a group version of your offering. If you help people with sensitive or personal problems, this may be a tough sell, though not always. Group therapy is an effective approach for dealing with private problems.
You will need to determine if your current marketing will reach these new group clients or whether you will need to adjust your efforts.
Group Sessions can be a straightforward way to increase your hourly rate without increasing hours worked.
Selling packages instead of charging by the hour is a pretty straightforward change you can make to your business. This has the positive effect of getting your money upfront. But it also can potentially have another effect. People are risk averse and as someone starts down the path of working with you to achieve some goal, the idea of knowing the cost upfront can result in their being willing to spend more than they would have otherwise. This means that, if done right, the same number of hours worked can result in more revenue.
Things to Consider
It is very important that you specify what is included in the package and be clear that there is nothing else. Scope creep happens naturally, and it is up to you to make sure that it doesn’t erode your profit. Be clear upfront and push back (gently at first) when a client tries to add to the workload beyond the agreed scope. When you are charging by the hour, clients will police themselves because it costs them money. When they buy a package, that becomes your job since they no longer care. If you don’t get good at this, you will be very sorry.
It is crucial that you understand your business well enough to set a price that will work for you. You need to know how many hours it takes you on average to execute the package. But you can’t just price at the average, or you will wind up no better off than before. You need to price such that most deals will produce a bigger profit, say 10% to 15% will be less profitable with the package. Which means that 85% to 90% will be more profitable.
Selling packages instead of time can produce more revenue and profit, but you need to watch carefully for scope creep.
Create a Course
You know how to do something well, or people wouldn’t be paying you. The idea here is to create a course and charge people to take it. This can be done in several different ways:
- In-Person Courses
- Live Virtual Courses
- Pre-Recorded Video Courses
- Text-Based Courses
In-person and live virtual courses tend to have a higher price point but they don’t scale nearly as well as pre-recorded video and text-based courses because, in the former case, someone has to be there presenting while in the latter, you can “earn while you sleep.”
There are lots of platforms for creating, presenting, and even selling courses.
Things to Consider
This is an option that is theoretically available to any type of business. However, this may not work for certain specialties as there may not be enough demand to learn how you do what you do to justify the cost to create and market a course.
Also, this approach may not be attractive to certain solopreneurs because it could involve selling to an entirely different customer. If you are a logo designer, you are selling to people who need a logo. If you create a logo design course, you are likely selling to people who want to become logo designers. This means that selling courses can become an entirely different business. You need to decide whether a) this will be what happens to your business and b) do you want that?
Creating courses can help you grow your income, but it will only work for certain businesses and may involve a whole new customer base.
If you can train others to do what you do and pay them at a lower rate then you charge, you can conceivably increase your revenue without adding a commensurate number of hours. This may involve “cloning” yourself completely or just offloading certain aspects of the work to contractors.
Things to Consider
You need to consider the fact that these contractors will need to be managed, so allocate some hours for that. You also want to be sure that by doing this, the quality of your product isn’t diminished. This can be very costly in the long run.
One thing I’ve seen people do that has worked poorly is engage a low-cost company to cold call for them. The problem is that often the people doing the cold calling are not trained and can only work from a script. Cold calling is a tough way to make progress in sales and having a poorly trained person represent your business may not play well in the long run.
Scaling your productive capacity by engaging contractors can be a powerful tool for increasing revenue without increasing hours. But be sure that the quality of your work nor your company’s reputation doesn’t suffer.
Create a Certification Program
If you have a great reputation in your space, you can potentially train other people in what you do and then let them use your brand to go out and do what you do. This is kind of like franchising. They pay you to get certified and then pay to maintain their certification. This can be a powerful way to scale your income.
Things to Consider
One of the best ways to develop a reputation that will power this type of business is to write a book. While self-publishing is an option, having a book published by a respected publisher can truly cement your reputation. This will take a lot of time. Using a ghostwriter can reduce the time required but will cost a significant amount of money. Either way, if you are not going to add additional work hours to your week, this will reduce the amount of “billable” time you are working and so will likely reduce your income temporarily.
You will need to support your certified people via marketing efforts. This will likely require a larger marketing budget than you have now. That’s not a bad thing but be sure to think it through and take that larger budget into account.
To maintain the same number of hours worked, you will be doing less of the work related to your original business and more work finding, training, and supporting your certified people. Also, this is likely a situation where you are selling to a different customer than you are now. These are not bad things, but it does involve reimagining your business.
Creating a certification program can scale your business without creating additional hours. But you will need to reimagine your business significantly.
Create An App
For some businesses, creating an app can be a great way to monetize your expertise. There are a million potential app ideas, but here I am starting from the assumption that you are currently trading time for money and want to continue in the field of your expertise. In this case, coaching businesses are best positioned to benefit from an app.
If you are a coach with a specific method that can be captured in a logical form, an app may be a way to monetize your expertise without working additional hours. This could be in the form of a support tool for current clients that reduces the amount of time you need to spend one-on-one with them. You could also build an app that leaves you out completely, where people simply interact with the app. This can scale infinitely.
Things to Consider
Creating an app will cost you time and money and has the risk of failing. There are ways to reduce the risk.
It is very difficult to get noticed in the app space now. Putting an app in the app store is like putting a drop of water in the ocean. You will need a solid marketing plan if you hope to sell your app beyond your current customer base.
Creating an app around your business has the potential to scale infinitely but it costs money, time, and can be quite risky.
What Should You Do?
Of course, the answer to this depends upon your specific business. However, if you are ready to make the investment in time and perhaps money, to grow your revenue without working more hours in the long run, these ideas alone, or in some combination, are a great way to approach this challenge.
Just remember that it will likely be harder to make the transition than you expect. But pretty much everything worth doing is hard. So, think it through and, if it makes sense for you, go for it!
To navigate the entrepreneur journey as a one-person business owner, and achieve some of the tactics above, consider getting some tips from The Solopreneur Success Sycle.
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