If you’re the type of person who loves to learn new things about business and being an entrepreneur, then you would love the Michael O’Neal's podcast, The Solopreneur Hour. This podcast shares stories, insights, strategies, life-lessons, and more through various interviews with people from different markets and channels.
The Solopreneur Hour can be found on iTunes, Stitcher Radio or their own website, and you can start listening at the beginning or go back through Michael’s archived episodes to learn all his tips. Today we'll showcase some of the best business lessons from The Solopreneur Hour podcast that can bring value to everyone.
1. Leadership by Example
I’m sure we've all seen it as one-time employees of a company: that moment when you look around and your boss (or the owner) is nowhere to be found. You come to find out they left early for the day to go golfing. Must be nice, right? What does everyone do when they know the boss isn’t around? They take it easy and let off the gas pedal—after all, if the boss can relax, why can’t you?
A boss/owner who cares about their business needs to lead by example. This means coming into work on time, staying for the entire day, getting projects completed or even staying late if need be. A strong leader is in front of employees showing them what needs to be done and working toward that goal with them.
For a true leader, their position isn't about being “above” any particular job in the business. If the bathrooms need to be cleaned, as a leader you should take charge and do it. Show your staff that you aren’t above getting your hands a little dirty to get things done, and that you’re a team player no matter the work involved. The next time the bathroom needs to be cleaned, no one is going to say "Not me!" if they saw the boss doing it last time.
2. Sell Your Passion
Have you ever wanted to start your own business? Maybe something as a solopreneur with an LLC? Or maybe you already started a business, but aren’t quite feeling it yet. In either instance, for some clarity, spend some time thinking of what you are passionate about. If you could wake up every single day and do something you loved, what would it be? Sell your passion.
In one episode of The Solopreneur Hour, they talked about how you need to sell something you are passionate about. Going out and selling something just to make money isn’t going to cut it anymore. People need to feel the excitement and passion behind your product or service. If you wake up and aren’t jumping out of bed to start your day and help make a difference in people’s lives through your product or service (e.g. passion), you might not be in the right business.
3. There’s Never a “Right Time” to Start a Business
We often wish life came with a timeline that clearly marked the best time for starting a business. Unfortunately, that's not the case...and The Solopreneur Hour hammered this lesson home to the listeners.
The best time to start a business is almost always right now. Not tomorrow, not next month or even next year...right now. The timing will never be perfect, but the longer you hold off on starting your own business, the less likely you are to ever move forward.
Still struggling to get started? Write down business ideas that are based on your passions, knowledge and skillsets. From there, look at similar businesses in the market and see how you can differentiate yours from the others. The next step is to legally create your business entity. If you need help, Incfile can help you start your company and manage your business once it's formed.
4. Sometimes You Need to Fire a Client
It’s never easy letting go of revenue, but if an account is causing more headache than they're worth, fire them. You don’t have to be aggressive when doing so — just state that you don’t feel your business is the right fit for their needs (or whatever other excuse you would like to use). Tell them you need to part ways and you wish them the best. Let them be someone else’s headache.
I couldn’t tell you the number of times I’ve worked with accounts that were extremely needy and time-consuming. This type of client is always asking for better pricing, always wanting a promotion or discount and usually needs the product yesterday even if they're ordering today...but they forgot to check their inventory and expect you to pay to expedite their order.
There are so many of these draining experiences I’ve personally experienced in my career that I could probably write a book (or another article!). Moral of the story? Don’t be afraid to let go of some business if it’s not a healthy relationship between both parties. You’ll pick up more business somewhere else and end up happier and less stressed.
5. Social Media Isn’t About the Followers
Social media was created to socialize with people you know and like. For business purposes, it can be extremely important to get your brand in front of your customers and prospects to drive growth. However, as discussed in The Solopreneur Hour, at some point things went sideways. Now, it’s more about social currency and how many followers you have to make yourself look important.
Have you noticed people on social media (Instagram, for example) who are following no one, yet have millions of followers themselves? Oddly enough, you’ve never even heard of this person before. You look at one of their posts and see minimal engagement — maybe a few hundred likes. Do the math: that’s less than 1 percent.
Tons of accounts nowadays are actually buying followers to look important and fluff their numbers. But social media was never about the followers! Social media was created to connect and engage with people; don’t worry about how many followers you have. Focus on the ones you gained organically, and engage with them. Utilize your social media platforms to tell people about sales, services, product launches, or anything else important going on with your business — regardless of how many followers it gets you.
6. Know Your Niche: Not All Businesses Have Carryover
Just because you run a successful business in one market does not mean the same techniques can be applied to another business in a different market. According to The Solopreneur Hour podcast, each market seems to have a very specific way of conducting business.
For instance, just because you run an extremely successful supplement company does not mean you can open a convenience store. Running the supplement business doesn't necessarily teach you the skills to help build and operate your store. These are completely different markets and niches, and you need to know what you’re getting into before jumping in with both feet.
Just because you’re successful in one business does not mean you found the secret sauce to building an endless supply of profitable businesses in tons of markets. Moral of the story? Not all businesses have carryover.
7. Divide and Conquer With Partners and Employees
You may be able to do it all when it comes to your business, but it’s not ideal in most circumstances. There will be a time when you need employees, or when a partner might come along and join you in your journey. This is the time to divide and conquer.
Let the strengths of those around you help build the business. If you are good at sales but terrible at marketing, find someone within the company who is strong in that area and allow them to run it so you can focus on sales. If your partner is skillful in creating websites and social media, allow him to do so.
According to The Solopreneur Hour, none of us are perfect—we should already know that fact. We don’t know everything, and we aren’t proficient in every skillset out there that's necessary to build a profitable brand. For that reason, give responsibility to those who can handle it and build up the areas of the business where you aren’t well-versed.
8. Create Value and Share It Everywhere
People don’t want to be sold to; they want you to help them solve a problem. When you are constantly pushing sales down someone’s throat, they are less likely to stick around for the long-haul and want to do business with you.
However, if you create value (with helpful content, for instance) where people keep coming back to read and learn, eventually you will earn their trust and business. I like to think of it as over-delivering on value upfront. Give, give, give...and then ask for a purchase.
When you are constantly in a "Buy this, buy that, buy more!" mentality, it gets played out extremely quickly and turns people away from your business. So think more about engagement and providing value that may convert into a sale later.
9. Productivity Can Make You More Money
One less from The Solopreneur Hour that I've found extremely important to the success of my business (Weik Fitness, LLC) is making sure I am as productive as possible throughout the day. For me, this means block-scheduling my time.
I start my day working on projects that require all my attention and creativity. The next block transitions into projects that need to be buttoned up, but weren’t a priority like those found in my first block. I then transition into email, social media, scheduling, etc. to round out my day.
During the first two blocks, I do not engage in any social media. I don’t look at my emails, and I focus on the tasks in front of me. In fact, I turn my phone on silent and close out my email on my laptop so there are no distractions during those initial blocks to start my day.
Did you know that when you get pulled away from a project, it can take upwards of 25 minutes to fully reengage? Instead of wasting time getting immersed back into your work, try to stay extra productive during the time you've blocked intentionally.
10. Sales Is the Most Underrated Talent
One section of a podcast from The Solopreneur Hour truly hit home for me, and it made me chuckle thinking about my own experiences. Some people say they have terrible sales skills, and they might be right. But the one thing none of us can do without is being a salesman ourselves. Think about it: you are selling to people on a regular basis whether you realize it or not.
You and your spouse want to eat out, but you don’t know where to go. You mention you want to hit up the new seafood house down the road — you heard their food is shipped in daily for freshness, and you want to try it for yourself. If your spouse agrees, you just sold your spouse on your idea!
You gave reasons for wanting something, provided information that was engaging, and closed the deal. You solved the problem of being hungry and not knowing where to go. Anytime we want something, we need to sell the idea.
Sales is truly the most underrated talent you can have. If you can sell anything, you have the upper hand going against your competitors. And when you are “selling” something for your business, sell it just like you did with your spouse and the seafood house: you're simply providing information on what you have that can solve a problem.
I hope you've enjoyed these snippets of advice from The Solopreneur Hour! For more useful advice, check out the Incfile blog, where you can find tons of helpful articles on all aspects of starting and running your business.
Matt Weik is the Founder/Owner of Weik Fitness, LLC and is a well-respected fitness expert/author with a global following. He’s a certified strength and conditioning specialist, personal trainer, and sports nutritionist. His work has been featured in over 85 fitness magazines and over 1,500 websites. You can contact Matt via www.weikfitness.com or on his social channels found on his website.