TT#009 - 10 bad pieces of advice "experts" give solopreneurs to get clients...May 03, 2022
Building a client-based business as a solopreneur is hard enough without being steered in the wrong direction along the way.
Which is why it frustrates me to see "experts" feeding solopreneurs advice I know (from experience) makes things harder.
So, today I'm going to share 10 “tips” I’ve seen that solopreneurs would be better off ignoring.
1: Post content on social everyday and the clients will just show up.
Consistently posting content has helped me build my business. But posting every day can be as much of a time suck as it can be a catalyst for growth.
If you want to see results from posting everyday, clarify the following first:
- Exactly who you are writing for.
- The problems they have that you solve.
- The pains those problems are causing them.
- The mistakes they’re making trying to solve them.
Then, you'll want to have a deliberate strategy for harvesting engagement, starting discussions, and turning "Views" and "Likes" in to dollars and cents.
2: Start with small clients & low rates and work up.
This is advice I see shared with people that are relatively new to consulting, coaching, or fractional work. And the source of this advice is usually imposter syndrome or bad marketing.
Taking on low paying clients typically means having to take on more of them to make a decent living. That's a recipe for:
- Being overworked.
- Being underpaid.
- Delivering subpar work.
- And getting low rate referrals.
It's not a winning
recipe and you'll get too busy to fix it.
If you’re qualified to do the work, get paid what you deserve. If you’re not, stop telling people you are.
3: It’s important to get scalable systems from the start.
When you're getting started, it's easy to let systems distract us...
- A CRM before you have leads.
- A branding guide before you have traffic.
- A project planning software before you have clients.
It's what I call, "right thing, wrong time."
Early on you don’t know what works and what doesn’t. So you need to try different things, learn what works, then figure out how to scale it.
Investing in “scale” at the wrong time doesn't just cost you time and money, it makes it harder to adapt later when you have more learning under your belt.
Aim for speed, simplicity, and flexibility in systems. It’s what I call, Speedboat Marketing Systems.
4: Cast a wide net & let the market direct you to what works.
Product market fit is critical. But when you are the product, it's not where you start.
Before you go find out what the market needs, get crystal clear about what you are building and why. There's a big difference between building a $500k lifestyle business and a $100 million rocket ship.
If your goal is to earn a few hundred thousand a year and have plenty of time to enjoy the beach, you're going to take a different path than you would if you wanted to eventually buy your own social media platform (sup, Elon).
That's why I coach my solopreneur clients to get clear about their personal vision, then clarify a vision for the business that's aligned with that. It's what I call Vision Founder Fit.
If you skip this step, don't be surprised to find yourself in a profitable and intolerable business in 2 years.
5: You need a professional looking website for credibility.
One of the first things solopreneurs do when setting out on their own is set up a professional looking website. And most of the time, that's done before clarifying:
- Exactly who you are designing for.
- The problems they have that you solve.
- The pains those problems are causing them.
- The mistakes they are making trying to solve them.
It's the same list from above to write effective social media content. Or ebook content. Or landing page content.
The reason is simple: Pretty websites don’t turn prospects into clients. Copy they relate to does.
Countless million dollar businesses have been built on a single landing page. And I've seen some really damn ugly ones. But the message resonated, and that’s what mattered.
You don't need a fancy website. You need a clear market to speak to and a message that resonates.
6: Your knowledge & experience gets you hired.
Most of my solopreneur clients are Executive Freelancers leveraging their expertise to generate a higher income with more flexibility. And they frequently make the same mistake I did when I got started: thinking knowledge, experience, and expertise will win them clients.
Domain expertise is helpful. But as Napolean Hill says in Think and Grow Rich, "Knowledge is only potential power."
What actually wins you clients is your marketing.
My friend, and one of the best marketers I know, Robin Robins often says, "No one knows how good you are until they hire you. Until then, you’re only as good as your marketing."
No matter how smart you are or how many credentials you have, you need to market yourself effectively to win great clients. That means having a firm understanding of how to position yourself and package your services.
Then let your expertise shine.
7: Sales calls are different for every prospect.
For a lot of solopreneurs, the idea of using a script to run sales calls is crazy.
“Every prospect I talk to has unique needs, so every call is different,” they say.
If the needs of prospects are so wildly different from one another that you can’t create a framework to run calls consistently, you’re casting too wide of a net in your strategy and marketing.
“Ok, but when I’m using a script, it’s constrictive and obvious I’m reading.”
Only amateurs wing it.
You may not be able to script calls word-for-word, but a good talk track is constrictive by design. It keeps you from rambling, wandering off course, or having any other bad habits creep into sales calls.
Having a consistent process also allows you to quickly get really good at delivery. If every call is different, it’ll be your first time expecting the call - every time.
If you want the playbook for the talk track I install with my highest paying clients, you can grab it for free here.
8: Charge a high hourly rate.
Why on earth would I not recommend high hourly rates? Because charging hourly is a lose / lose situation for you and clients.
Here are just a few examples why:
- Clients want good work, but they prefer it be done faster, not slower. But the faster you work the less you make.
- The more you know, the more quickly you can solve a problem. The more quickly you can solve a problem on hourly rates, the less you make.
- The client is on the hook regardless of whether you deliver results with hourly billing. There’s less risk in paying for solutions than there is time.
When clients insist on hourly, it’s a red flag that success isn’t defined clearly enough.
You’re a professional that’s accumulated years of knowledge to do what you do today. How long it takes you to apply that knowledge is irrelevant and creates misalignment.
9: More customized is more valuable.
A common misperception solopreneurs have is that customized delivery of their service makes it more valuable. And that belief is often rooted in the idea that clients want to be treated as special and unique.
If you subscribe to that, consider walking into your doctor’s office with a problem. Which response would you rather hear?
“This is really unique. We’ll have to dive in and figure it out.”
“I’ve seen this a million times. Take this pill and follow this regimen and you’ll be fine.”
I’m not suggesting every problem you solve is that easy. What I am suggesting is that the perception of customized work is usually wrong.
Clients want to know you can solve their problem. More often than not, having a process to do that elevates your status relative to competitors.
10: You have to learn things on your own because that’s “part of the process.”
Solopreneuring is unique.
You’re a strategic CEO. You’re a copywriter. You’re a funnel builder. You’re a salesperson. You’re a service provider. You’re in charge of customer success.
You can learn it all on your own, and probably will if you stick with it long enough.
But why? It’s like chopping down a palm tree with a butter knife when you know someone that’ll loan you a chainsaw.
People recommend this approach because they aren’t aware of the principles and systems that lead to consistently winning great clients. But their unawareness of those principles and systems doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
Going it alone leads to more mistakes, more missteps, more setbacks, and costs you valuable time and money.
I know, because I did it. And when I finally invested in resources to help me build, my only regret was not doing it way sooner.
I’m on a mission to help 10,000 Solopreneurs & Executive Freelancers discover and enjoy a new lifestyle by creating income they deserve from wherever they choose doing work they love.
For a limited time, I'm offering a free audit of your client acquisition system and will personally help you clarify what’s working, what isn’t, and what to focus on right now to start winning your best clients - on demand.