Four things successful solopreneurs do every day
We asked our AIIP Past Presidents to share their tips on building and growing a successful independent information business.
Mary Ellen Bates, AIIP President (1996-97 and 2004-5) shares four great tips.
I have often wondered about why some people succeed as solopreneurs and others don’t. Almost everyone I run into has at least the basic skills needed for their business; it isn’t that they can’t do the work. Rather, I see attitude and approach as the distinguishing factors between successful business owners and those who never seem to get the traction they need.
Successful solopreneurs become accustomed to living outside their comfort zone.
They regularly scare themselves silly. They know that having a great idea is easy; it’s putting that idea into action that requires guts. They may not be natural extroverts (in fact, most of them probably describe themselves as introverts), but they figure out how to act like an extrovert. They learn how to network in ways that are both authentic and effective. They practice their public speaking skills until they can at least convey the impression that they’re enjoying themselves. They hone their writing skills so they can effectively communicate and engage with their market. In other words, they learn to operate while scared.
Successful solopreneurs always think from their clients’ perspective.
When they are negotiating a project budget and scope, they always find out what their client’s most important goal is and figure out how they can have the biggest impact on their client achieving that goal. (See my article on Successful Client Needs Interviews for more discussion about this.) They go the extra distance for a client, whether that means adjusting timelines or priorities, creating a new deliverable, or spending more time to make sure the job was done right. They are committed to having every client be delighted with the outcome of their engagement.
Successful solopreneurs ask “why”… a lot.
They question the status quo. When they’re told that no one has ever done it that way, they ask why. They will try something new if it might achieve better results than the way things are currently done. They shake things up and assume that whatever they are doing now will need to be changed within a year. They put a sunset clause in every service and product, and re-examine their usefulness, relevance and popularity regularly.
Successful solopreneurs are future-focused.
They listen to their clients to identify their most pressing concerns. They proactively seek out opportunities to create value for their clients rather than just waiting for business to come to them. They aren’t afraid to fail; in fact, their philosophy tends to be “Never fear making a mistake; just don’t make the same mistake twice.” They learn from every experience, and focus on solving problems rather than complaining about the current situation.
And finally, successful solopreneurs are committed to having fun. They start with the intention of creating a business that lets them do what they love and that lets them integrate their work into the rest of their life. If something isn’t fun, they figure out either how to have fun doing it or what to do that accomplishes the same thing and is more fun.
As you take an end-of-the-year look at where your business is and where you want it to go, consider how many of the following characteristics sound familiar — or at least attainable.
What can you do now to enhance your solopreneurial mindset?
In addition to providing customized business analysis to support smart decisions, Mary Ellen shares her expertise as a speaker, consultant, and business coach for both new and long-time info-entrepreneurs. She is the author of two books on entrepreneurship as well as author or co-author of five other books and innumerable articles about the information industry. Before launching Bates Information Services in 1991, she managed specialized libraries for over a decade.
Mary Ellen has served AIIP as President (1996-97 and 2004-5) and has contributed to numerous committees and strategic teams. Most recently she has been active with AIIP’s Webinar Team. She was recognized with AIIP’s President’s Award in 2014 and the first Sue Rugge Award in 2000.