The Accomplished Solopreneur

Issue 23.45

Saturday, November 11, 2023

How to 10x a solopreneur business (and still fly solo)

In their book “10x is easier than 2x” by Benjamin Hardy and Dan Sullivan, the authors talk about high-performing entrepreneurs and how they grow their businesses. It made me think: can you 10x a solopreneur business? I think you can - here’s how, and how to start.

“10x is easier than 2x” is probably one of the most important books I’ve read in the last decade (highly recommended). The fundamental principle is this:

If you’re aiming for 2x growth, there are many ways to get there, and you can spend a lot of time chasing all those options. To grow a business 10x, on the other hand, there are very few ways to get there. If you let go of the 80% of your work that gets you 20% of your results, and focus just on the things that can get you to 10x, you will make huge leaps.

This sounds enticing. Who wouldn’t like to get 10x the revenue they’re getting now?

But as I read through the book, I realized that one of the things you have to do to go 10x is to get other people to take the load off your shoulders. In other words, you have to build a team.

I’ve been there, done that (building a team thing) and I don’t want to do it again. Not for any specific reason other than I love my solopreneur life.

But still - can I 10x my solopreneur business? Without building a team and having to manage people?

I think you can. And it starts with a question.

What are all the things we need to do in a business?

The Tornado Method is a framework for understanding all the things we need to do in a business. There are 11 things - here they are:

These are exactly the 11 things you need to get right to have a thriving business. Get these right, and you will have a business - and a life.

Which leads us to the next question:

Where do we spend most of our time?

In reality, we spend most of our time in the top layer - the Revenue Engine. We market our stuff, nurture our leads, make sales and deliver the goods.

The middle layer - the Building Blocks of your business - is something you do when you start building a business and tweak now and then. This can take time to get right, but once we have it, we don’t make major changes often.

The bottom layer - Getting Stuff Done - are the habits and little things we do every day.

So, knowing that we spend most of our time in the Revenue Engine, how can we think about 10x’ing a business?

What does a “perfect” business look like?

Here’s my goal:

In my perfect solopreneur business, I spend less than 5% of time on admin, less than 20% on marketing, and the rest servicing clients.

That’s my goal - yours may differ. Make the calculations in terms of actual time - for example, if I work 40 hours a week, that translates to:

  • Less than 2 hours a week on admin
  • Less than 8 hours a week marketing.
  • Around 30 hours a week working with clients.

I’m a ways off, but I have a very clear goal to aim for.

How to 10x a solopreneur business (and still fly solo)

There are three things you can do to 10x a solopreneur business without building a team:

  1. Simplify your business.
  1. Build systems (they help you do stuff faster).
  1. Automate your systems (so they require little or none of your time).

Here’s how this works.

1. Simplify your business

I’m a great fan of Justin Welsh. His business is super simple:

  • A laser-like focus on a niche market.
  • Two products (one more coming up).
  • Mastering the art of marketing on LinkedIn and X-Twitter.
Because of this simplicity, he’s been able to focus on marketing, building an audience, and selling his products at volume.

All as a solopreneur.

Now don’t get me wrong - Justin has a products business. His products are courses, and he can sell them at volume at no-brainer prices.

If you’re a consultant or a coach, you can’t sell at volume. But the principles that underly Justin’s success are the same for all of us:

  • A laser-like focus on a niche market.
  • A small number of products (1 or 2).
  • Mastering the art of marketing on 1 or 2 channels to market.

The fewer moving parts in your business, the more you can focus on the things that generate revenue.

2. Build systems (they help you do stuff faster)

I publish this newsletter once a week - and believe it or not, I have a system for that.

Or at least parts of it:

  • I have a system for collecting ideas and deciding what to write about.
  • The writing itself is not a system - that’s just me and lots of practice.
  • I have a “system” for sending the newsletter to my email list and publishing on the various platforms.

The newsletter and publishing “system” is the simplest kind of system you can build:

The simplest system you can build is a checklist.

Every time I complete an article, I use a checklist to make sure I do all the things on all the platforms to get my newsletter out into the world. It’s not a complex task, but there’s enough detail in there that I’ve made some embarrassing mistakes. My system helps me get it right, even (especially) when I’m rushed.

Here’s the thing about “systems” - even systems as simple as checklists:

  • It helps you get all the details right and not miss any crucial steps.
  • You don’t have to think about it, so you get it done faster (just follow the system).
  • Chances are you can automate some (or all) of it.

If you do anything more than once (especially if you do it regularly), make a checklist. It will save you time, avoid mistakes, and it’s the basis for outsourcing stuff. And you need to know what you do before you can automate it.

3. Automate your systems (so they require little or none of your time)

This is where we step into the deep end.

To automate your systems, you will need to invest in systems.

This takes time and commitment. But investing in learning systems, then automating your systems, can save you a lot of time.

For example, when you purchase SoloBOSS, you also get access to The Boardroom (the solopreneur community):

  • The purchase is online and automatic - you immediately have access to the product and The Boardroom (our support community).
  • A Zapier automation adds you to a form in ConvertKit (my email marketing system).
  • ConvertKit automatically sends a thank-you email and some follow up.

These steps don’t require any of my time.

But they did require that I get to know the systems (ConvertKit and Zapier) so I could automate my sales-and-thank-you “system”. This investment of time in learning the systems also pays off in other ways, because I use ConvertKit for more than just saying thank you for purchasing SoloBOSS.

Where to start?

The easiest (and best) place to start is with simple systems - checklists.

Start with checklists

If you do anything regularly, create a checklist so you don’t have to think about it next time you do the task. You will get it done faster, and there will be fewer (or no) mistakes to fix later (huge time saver).

I’m an ultra-geek so I have a binder of all my checklists. Yes - a physical binder. It lives within arm’s reach, so any time I need to do anything, I reach for the binder.

Then simplify

As I said above:

  • Focus like a laser on a niche market.
  • Start with 1 or 2 products.
  • Master the art of marketing on 1 (max 2) channels to market.

Then automate

Don’t jump on the next, greatest system that promises to take all the load off you.

First, make a checklist. Document your “system”. Then check to see whether that whiz-bang system will help you automate it.