The Accomplished Solopreneur

Issue 24.11

Saturday, March 16, 2024

Image courtesy of DALL-E via ChatGPT

Build a solopreneur business - Part 1: Define your niche

Over the next 5 weeks I will be going through the process of building a solopreneur business. Think of this series as a mini course - follow along each week, do the work (or check your business against the process), and you have a decent chance of starting / improving your solopreneur business.

In this series:

  1. Define your niche (this article)
  1. Craft your offer
  1. Price it right
  1. Design your marketing
  1. Start your engines

Let’s go.

Part 1: Define your niche

To be successful as a solopreneur, you have to specialize, or niche down. We don’t have the time or bandwidth to be all things to all people. We can’t even be lots of things to a smaller number of people (we just don’t have the time).

And trying to be too many things to anyone is a bad idea to start with. Your marketing has to be wider, people will wonder what you do (and for whom), and you won’t make the progress you want to.

When we specialize (niche down), we unlock 3 super powers:

  • We play where the big companies don’t (less competition).
  • We become known as the go-to person for a specific problem (hello referrals).
  • We can get better and faster at delivering our solutions (less time for the same money).

Defining your niche well is the key to a successful business:

When you get your niche right, everything else falls into place.

Your niche probably won’t be perfect the first time around, and that’s fine. Start with something as close to perfect as you can, and adapt as you go.

There are 3 steps you need to go through.

Step 1: Craft your niche statement

A niche statement is a brief summary of your business. Note that it’s not for external use (we will get there in a bit).

Here’s the formula for your niche statement:

I help [ideal clients]

who [have this problem]

with [my offerings]

so they can [get desirable results]

For example, my niche statement is:

I help solopreneurs who deliver a service to their clients
who don’t know where to focus next
with systems, tools, knowledge and support
so they can build a better business faster.

About 10 years ago I ran a solopreneur consultancy with this niche statement:

I help small business owners
who need their teams to be more engaged
with structured facilitation programs
so they can have more time to work on the business.

What you need to do

If you’re just starting out, craft your niche statement.

If you’re up and running, write down your niche statement, and check if what you do (and how you present yourself) against your niche statement.

Step 2: Turn it into a party line

A “party line” is a short version of your niche statement you can use at parties, networking events or even on your LinkedIn profile. You’ve probably heard of an elevator pitch - this is the opening line.

I have a couple of versions I use as the situation dictates:

  • I help solopreneurs build a better business faster.
  • I help solopreneurs turn chaos into a profitable business.
  • I help solopreneurs focus on what matters most.

The most important thing with a party line is that you want to tell them just enough to see if there’s an interest. If you try to tell people everything you do (or, even worse, how you do it), you will lose them about 20 seconds into the explanation.

What you need to do

Turn your niche statement into a party line. Keep it to one sentence max. Craft multiple versions if you’re not convinced one of them is perfect.

Step 3: Test your party line

The best test for your party line is how quickly people “get it”. Test your party line with friends, family, peers, in fact anyone who will stand still long enough to hear it.

If they instantly get it, you’ve got it

If you can explain what you do in such a way that people instantly get it, you’re right on target—well done.

But if people are still wondering, or their eyes glaze over, you have some work to do.

Not everyone should be interested

There will always be people who are not interested in what you do. In fact, you’ve niched down so only a relatively small percentage of the people you talk to will really be interested.

And that’s just fine. Not everyone is your client (or even your ideal client).

But everyone should “get it”

Even if people are not interested, they should still understand who you work with and why those people should be interested.

The easier it is for people to understand what you do, the easier it will be to capture the interest of the people you want to work with.

Avoid the temptation to tell people what you do in so much detail that their eyes glaze over. If your short explanation is interesting to them, they will ask for more information.

That’s it for this week. See you next week for part 2!