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15 min read

Solopreneur Success Cycle 5: Here's How to Execute Your One-Person Business

Solopreneur Success Cycle 5: Here's How to Execute Your One-Person Business

You're past the setup and planning phase and now it's time to actually do the work and release your business to the world. Woohoo! Congratulations! During this execution phase, there are some things that will be specific to your business, but there are other things that are general to many types of one-person businesses, which is what we cover in this episode.

In this episode, we walk through what you should be thinking about during the execution phase in relation to:

  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • Accounting
  • Outsourcing
  • Managing time

And so much more!

Resources Mentioned In The Episode


Follow the Series

This podcast episode is a part of a series of shorter episodes that revolve around the Solopreneur Success Cycle, a framework to intelligently design and grow your one-person business.  It is a proven method to help solopreneurs start, run, and grow a business that allows them to be successful and achieve their own goals, whatever those goals may be. These can be consumed as standalone episodes, but we highly recommend you listen to the full series to get the most out of it.

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Want to share your experiences and learn from other one-person business? Be sure to join our community! It's free :)

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on Apple Podcasts Thanks!


Full Podcast Transcript

Joe Rando (00:00):

What you need to do, which is really counterintuitive, is welcome objections. Welcome them. They're telling you what you need to do to sell to them. So don't argue with them or fight with them or disagree with them. Always respect their feelings. Never say but, as it negates their feelings.

INTRO (00:18):

Bigger doesn't always mean better. Welcome to the One-Person Business podcast where people who are flying solo in business come for specific tips and advice to find success as a company of one. Here are your hosts, Joe Rando and Carly Ries.

Carly Ries (00:37):

Welcome to the One-Person Business podcast. I'm one of your hosts, Carly Ries.

Joe Rando (00:41):

And I'm Joe Rando.

Carly Ries (00:43):

We are back with another segment of our Solopreneur Success Series. Last week we discussed things to think about when setting up your business. Today we're discussing what to think about when you actually execute your business plans ideas. Now remember, you can listen to these as one-off episodes, but we highly recommend listening to the full series to get the most out of it. And before this, I believe those are episodes 26, 28, 30, 32, and 34. Alright Joe, let's dive in.

Joe Rando (01:11):

So now we're talking about executing or doing. We're past the planning and setup phase. Now we're going to work and calling this the execution phase, the due phase, whatever you like. But here a lot of things get very specific to your business, and that makes it hard for us to talk about them. But there are some things that almost all businesses have in common. We can't tell you what kind of toppings to offer in the pizza in a cup business or recommend the best ferret site to advertise your portrait business. But we can help you with those basics. You may have seen the Solopreneur Success Cycle graphic on our website. It shows eight steps to running a one-person business, but it can really be simplified to three. Those three steps are get started, which we've covered already. This do or execute phase, which we're gonna talk about today, and then improving, which we'll talk about later, which will lead you back into doing and executing. But the important thing is, in the doing or executing, we're gonna be covering a lot of different aspects to the business that are general to most one-person businesses.

Carly Ries (02:20):

It basically results in getting started and then a cycle to do and improve, do and improve, do and improve over and over, which you kind of just alluded to, but I decided I'd reiterate it there.

Joe Rando (02:30):

Yes. That's the idea and that's why it's a cycle. So, as I said, we can only scratch the surface of all the execute topics today, but there is a lot more info on lifestarr.com website and more coming every week. We'll give you links to other things in the podcast and all this information that relates to these topics. So there's a wealth of information out there that we're just gonna kind of cover the overview on today.

Carly Ries (02:55):

Joe, I'm just gonna add to our shameless plug here for a second. the Lifestarr community also has places to ask other solopreneurs as well as experts. So in addition to the information, you can actually talk to people in real time and it's free, so why not take advantage of it? Okay, end of shameless plug,

Joe Rando (03:13):

The first topic we want to talk about is marketing. You're gonna have to constantly drive business opportunities if you want to actually have business opportunities. Companies refer to this as filling the funnel and marketing is key to filling the funnel. The issue here is that if you need to spend all your time manually chasing down opportunities, cold calling or whatever, you won't have time to do the work you paid for.

Carly Ries (03:39):

Joe, actually do you mind if I hop in here real quick just to talk about an overview of marketing? I just want to remind everybody today we're discussing the execution phase. So we've already established setting up your website, deciding which marketing efforts you want to approach and so on in previous episodes. Now we want you to consider this phase kind of the testing phase. Many people fail to nail their marketing strategy on the first shot. So you have to test it in the wild. This is the time to put your plans in motion, actively engage with your audience, test different platforms and mediums and monitor. Don't forget to monitor. At this point, you're actively putting your business out there so make sure your messaging, website and all communication is current. And remember, you'll always be changing your marketing strategy.

(04:26):

So just stay the course as it is right now and evaluate once you have substantial results come in. Don't do it too soon. You might get scared away if you're just like day-to-day progress. Lastly, and just as an overview for the marketing step of the execute phase, as you are actively putting stuff out there, continue to remind yourself that your entire focus should be about your audience, not about you. Nobody cares what you're selling. They only care if you're solving their problem. Let's say you're selling pillows. We don't say "we are the world's best pillow company on the planet." You say "have the best night's sleep you've ever had." Just that tweak in messaging to make sure they know that they are the focus and that you are not focusing on yourself. Keeping your audience needs and minds can go a long, long way. That's kind of the short and sweet of my marketing spiel today. This is just the phase where you're diving in, so take it seriously and monitor.

Joe Rando (05:19):

Awesome Carly, thank you. Another great way to grow your business get leads, get business, is through a referral engine. Referrals where other people that are your customers or have been your customers are referring you to others. Business comes in because people are calling you. In certain businesses you can build a referral engine that'll feed you leads in your sleep. It doesn't work for all businesses, but when it does look out, you can be very busy. To me, the key part is that there has to be some kind of an ecosystem, that's a series of businesses that interact with one another and customers. It may be like an event photographer. Like Sarah Montani we had on the show were various players in the event business, the venues, the DJs, videographers, event planners regularly work together. She also had the fact that she was doing a lot of bar mitzvahs.

(06:12):

The families would talk to each other and recommend. So you had this ecosystem of these people that worked in a business. And on top of that, people that went to the same, in this case temple and talked to each other and shared insights and recommendations. She built a very powerful referral engine that meant that she didn't have to really do any of the marketing other than maintain a website. Could be an industry group where people work together less frequently, but interact a lot and exchange info at events and that kind of thing. I had that back when I was developing shopping centers. We didn't always work with everybody, but there were these industry groups and people just got to know each other and could really help each other with referrals and that kind of thing. And honestly, some businesses are not capable of supporting a referral engine strategy. So look carefully and think it through before you try to attempt it.

Carly Ries (07:03):

I'm just gonna jump in here real quick. We also had an amazing guest on in early 2022, John Jantsch, who's a big name in the marketing world. A lot of people have read many of his books. One of them is called the Referral Engine and it was published almost a decade ago, but it is still so relevant and so helpful today. I highly recommend you checking that out. We will link to his episode as well as this book. The Referral Engine can be a great read to get this process going.

Joe Rando (07:29):

Great point, Carly. Sorry, I missed that. Good catch. Next, let's talk about sales. Once you've got these leads coming in, they don't usually magically convert into opportunities. You need to do something. And this is a big topic. We're gonna scratch the surface, but, as Carly mentioned, you need to talk about them, not you. You have to have skills at selling, and that means focusing on the customer rules. One, two and three are are basically talking about their problems and how you can solve them. As the old saying goes, people hate to be sold, but they love to buy. By talking about their problems, making them feel comfortable, and then providing a solution you get to help them to buy.

Carly Ries (08:10):

I feel like I'm like just shouting out great resources at this point in the episode, but it's relevant. So I'm gonna say it. We had Greg Rutan on. Gosh, one of our first guests, but he was so amazing and he had the episode, "what solopreneurs need to know about sales to be successful". I highly recommend checking that out, if you haven't heard it yet, to get the ball rolling in the right direction.

Joe Rando (08:32):

And then you should have some selling tools. You don't want to be writing this on index cards. You need some way to keep track of your prospects, your customers. These tools are called CRMs, which stands for Customer Relationship Management. There are a lot of great tools out there, and you probably know by now that we are pretty partial to HubSpot and they have a great free CRM. We're gonna put a link in the show notes to recommended tools for one-person businesses for CRMs, basically. It lists HubSpot and a bunch of others depending on your needs. So check that out for sure. Now, in terms of your selling process, it's important to meet them where they are. Try to match their energy level. If they're mellow, don't be excited.

(09:18):

If they're excited, don't be sleepy. Try to match them where they are. This is stuff that Greg talked about, but I'm just gonna do a high level here. When you start talking about what you do, especially if it's something more complex, start at a very high level. Give them the big picture and go deeper as they need to. Some people just want to get the big picture and move on. Some people want to dot the i's and cross the T's . If you start at the details and you've got a high level person, you're just gonna lose them. If you start at a high level and go deeper, the the other person will usually follow you down. So it's good to approach it that way. Another general good practice is to use test closes.

(09:57):

As they describe their problem, ask questions like, "if I could make that problem never happen again, would you be willing to hire me or buy my product?"? Or whatever it is. The concept here is to get them saying yes. Get them saying yes to what you're offering. That gets them primed to say yes at the end, which is where you want them to be. Another thing is dealing with competition. So you're vying with other competitors likely for any given deal. I've got a couple of dos and don'ts that are pretty much across the board. Maybe Carly you can help me out with this, but, the dos focus on the problem you'll solve, we'll say it again, but we're gonna say it over and over again. Focus on the problem that you will solve for them. Be willing to send them to a competitor if the competitor is better suited to their needs. Sounds crazy, but if you aren't ideal for them, you're probably not going to perform at a level that they're going to recommend you. And when you do this, it builds trust, it makes you look strong and confident. And if your competitors are honorable, they'll return the favor. If they don't, try referring different competitors.

Carly Ries (11:03):

I just had a real life situation with that. We're repairing a window in our house and one of the contractors we had come over to look at it, couldn't take on that specific type. They recommended a competitor and because of that, we're using them for other remodeling things. Because you think, that was so great for them to pass it off. So to piggyback off of that, do not talk bad about your competition. Don't make them look bad, because it just makes you look bad in turn. Don't try to compete on price unless that's your core strategy, but really try to not make that your core differentiator if you can. Now a quick word from our sponsor,

(11:38):

SPONSOR

(11:38):

You may be going solo in business, but that doesn't mean you're alone. In fact, millions of people are in your shoes running a one-person business and figuring it out as they go. So why not connect with them and learn from each other's successes and failures. At Lifestarr, we're creating a one-person business community where you can go to meet and get advice from other solopreneurs. Be sure to join in on the conversations at community.lifestarr.com

Joe Rando (12:04):

Another thing is dealing with objections. People are gonna come along and say, ah, or it's too expensive or it's whatever. What you need to do, which is really counterintuitive, is welcome objections. Welcome them. They're telling you what you need to do to sell to them. So don't argue with them or fight with them or disagree with them. Always respect their feelings. Never say, but, as it negates their feelings. A cool tactic as well is if there's an objection that's really obvious, let's say you're the most expensive offering on the market or they saw an aspect to your offering that clearly somebody's gonna object to, bring it up before they do. Put it early in your presentation. You know, "we are the most expensive offering on the market and here's why and here's why it we're totally worth it. " If you hit it first, then it often doesn't become an objection. There are lots of techniques to this that are way beyond here, but just remember to welcome them, learn from them, and never ever argue with somebody because you'll just turn them off.

Carly Ries (13:12):

Yeah, the buyer is basically just telling you what they want. I need to take my own medicine with this because I'm such a people pleaser. The one objection, it guts me. Somebody told me, it's not a personal thing and it's not, but they're just really trying to tell you what it is they want. So dig deeper, ask the right questions, then look at it as an opportunity and not an obstacle.

Joe Rando (13:32):

Absolutely. The last one, this is a secret that nobody knows. This is a secret success of selling success. I'm being a little facetious here. Ask them for the deal and get them to sign. You can go through a whole great process, but if you don't ask them to actually sign the deal and hire you or buy from you, it can all be lost in time. You just have to go in and ask for that at the end. If you've done the test closes, say, Hey, we've done this, I can do this, I can do this. Let's sign this up. People are often afraid to ask for the deal. They just feel like it's too pushy. You don't want to be one of those people. If they say no, ask why.

(14:14):

Go back to dealing with objections. There are times you're gonna lose the deal, but don't lose it because you didn't ask. Okay, moving on now to the basics of running the business, which again, I can't talk too much about, Carly can't talk too much about, because so much of this is specific to what you're doing. But there are some general things. Every business is unique and they have these few things that are always in common. The first is bookkeeping and accounting. Every business needs this, and not just for tax returns. You need to understand how your business is doing health-wise and financial statements are the key. You really need to make sure that you somehow have financial statements that you can use to see how things are going. I usually recommend hiring a professional for this department.

(15:02):

Another one is working capital. And one of the great ironies of the universe is that a lot of businesses get destroyed by being too successful. Working capital is the money that's available to run your business. It's a lot like blood is to a body. Imagine a creature with five pints of blood suddenly grows to three times its size. If it still only has five pints of blood, it's gonna die for lack of oxygen and nutrients reaching itself. There's just not enough blood to do the job anymore. Working capital does the same for a business. It pays the bills that need paying and hires the contractors that need to be hired. If the business grows too fast without working capital increasing commensurately, people don't get paid and stop providing goods and services and the business dies. So watch out for this. Make sure that you're ready for it. If you're growing fast, see a bank, see a friend, somebody that can get money into your company. Another really general aspect to all businesses is accounts receivable. One of the best ways to maintain adequate working capital is to get paid on time by your customers.

Carly Ries (16:08):

And to do this, you really need to be proactive. This means not waiting until a payment is late, before reaching out. It could be something as simple as a polite reminder, phone call, an email, whatever before it's due. That can work such miracles. And then obviously, following up again after the due date. Try to be diligent but pleasant in this process because you don't want to alienate your customers. That is the worst thing you can do in this situation.

Joe Rando (16:31):

Next we want to talk about working with your outsource service providers. We've talked about the fact that most businesses are gonna want to outsource something, whether it's bookkeeping and accounting or some other aspect of the business. You are going to need to work with these service providers. In the previous stages of the solopreneur success cycle, we talked about deciding which jobs you were going to outsource, but you need to then decide on a process for working with each of them. There are two kinds of outsourced service providers, generally speaking. One is the occasional service provider that's only used irregularly or on an ad hoc basis, and then work with them as needed, set up a process for a particular project and just work to it. The other ones are the regular ongoing service providers like a bookkeeper/accountant service. If you are going to work with somebody like that, you really need to create a routine for how to work together over the long haul.

Carly Ries (17:29):

Just to piggyback on that, let's say it is bookkeeping and account services, you should decide on a regular date for sending over information as well as a standing meeting to discuss and review. Treating a core function of your business as though it were ad hoc is just asking for that function to break down.

Joe Rando (17:45):

Next we want to talk about managing time. This is something that everybody that has a business or does anything, has to deal with. First and foremost, talking about focus. Remember to turn off distractions. Check emails a few times per day. Get rid of popups on your devices. And, and yeah, full confession, I am still working on this one. Next is organization. Have a system. Maybe you have one that works for you, that's great, but if your desk is covered with post-it notes and you have a lot of drop balls, you need to fix this now. If you're starting a one-person business or trying to run one, I highly recommend David Allen's, "Getting Things Done". It's a book that can really change your life. If it's still available and you want to beta test the Lifestarr app, if we have any openings for that, sign up on the website and check that out. It's a really great way to organize your tasks and keep yourself on track. Next is follow through. If you don't follow through on your commitments, you're really hurting yourself and your reputation and perception from other people.

Carly Ries (18:53):

You may be wondering why this is under managing time. It really is. You have to allocate time to do that. This is the only way to be perceived as trustworthy. If you can't meet a commitment for some reason, get ahead of it. Let the client know before it's late and give them a good, honest reason. Do not lie about it. This massively mitigates the amount of trust loss between you and your clients. Again, tying it back to managing time, you have to make this priority with your schedule.

Joe Rando (19:18):

Next, we want to talk about keeping score in terms of how it's going and then we're going to use this later in the solopreneur success cycle. But, are you running the business or is the business running you?

Carly Ries (19:33):

Side note, if you're feeling really stressed out or out of control, it's probably running you. Keep a notebook of these things and try to track patterns to see how you can take control again.

Joe Rando (19:44):

Just take that stuff down and in the next phase of the solopreneur success cycle, we'll use these to make your life even better and your business more successful. So that's really it for today. I know it was very high level, but I think we covered some things that are kind of general to everybody.

Carly Ries (20:01):

Joe, can I just point out that we got through an entire episode only mentioning the ferrets and the pizza in a cup examples once,

Joe Rando (20:08):

Oh I forgot to mention it more.

(20:15):

Speaking of which, okay, let's have some fun. The first person to email me at joe@lifestarr.com with the movie that was the source for the idea of pizza in a cup, that is according to our experts here at the Star base, you will get a free Lifestarr t-shirt. First one, maybe the second one too, but first one for sure.

Carly Ries (20:40):

And I'm out. You had to tell me the answer yesterday cuz I didn't know. But, Joe Rando is not the original person to come up with that, so let us know. Listeners, thank you so much for tuning in. If you want to listen to other episodes of the series or guest interviews, be sure to visit Lifestarr.com/podcast. Or you can find us anywhere you subscribe to your shows. We'll see you next time.

(21:06):

CLOSING

(21:06):

You may be going solo in business, but that doesn't mean you're alone. In fact, millions of people are in your shoes running a one-person business and figuring it out as they go. So why not connect with them and learn from each other's successes and failures. At Lifestarr, we're creating a one-person business community where you can go to meet and get advice from other solopreneurs. Be sure to join in on the conversations at community.lifestarr.com