The Accomplished Solopreneur

Issue 23.08

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Photo by Randy Fath on Unsplash

The top 4 problems all solopreneurs struggle with (#3)

We’re on to problem #3 of the top four problems most solopreneurs struggle with. So far we’ve covered:

  1. I’m overwhelmed (and I don’t know what to focus on next)
  2. I need more leads (marketing)
  3. I don’t know how to do XYZ
  4. I don’t know if I’m doing it right

In this week’s article we look at problem #3 - I don’t know how to do XYZ

Remember, it’s about mindset as well as skillset

I mentioned this in more detail in the first two problems, so here’s just a brief reminder:

Mindset and skillset work together to solve a problem. Developing a skillset also requires that you change, or evolve, your mindset.

Now let’s talk about how to do stuff we don’t know how to do.

Problem #3: I don’t know how to do XYZ

I can obviously not teach you how to do XYZ in this email (or even in a course, at least until we’ve defined what XYZ is).

But what I can help you do is:

  • decide how to go about getting it done, and
  • the principles you need to apply to get it done as quickly as possible, for the least amount of money, and still be fit for purpose.

With these two techniques in hand, the big problem of getting XYZ done will be a lot easier.

How to go about getting it done

In principle, there are only 2 ways to get “everything” done:

  1. Learn to do it yourself
  2. Get someone else to do it for you.

If you can’t afford to outsource the work to someone else, the decision is easy: you have to learn to do it yourself. But even if you can afford to outsource something, you shouldn’t just do it.

This will help you decide:

  • Is it client-facing? If this “thing” you need to get done is directly client-facing, you should think about doing it yourself, or at the very least take a strong lead in getting it done.
  • Is it something you need to do once only? It doesn’t make sense to go through the learning curve of, for example, developing a website, if you only do it once (or occasionally).
  • Is it something repetitive? Repetitive tasks are great for outsourcing. Create a checklist for getting it done, use it yourself until you’re happy it works, and then give the checklist to someone else to follow.
  • Where can you add most value? Finally, consider where you can add the most value to your business. If you have to choose between three things, choose to do the one where you can add most value to your business.

Now that you have a better idea of whether you should be doing it yourself, or outsourcing it to someone else, here are the top things to look out for.

Learning to do it yourself

Here are the two most important guidelines for learning how to do it yourself:

  1. Start small
  2. Find a recipe

The biggest challenge with learning to do something yourself is measuring yourself against the top people in the field. Don’t. If you need to build a website, start with a single page website. If you need to start marketing on social media, start with one post per week. And so on.

Then find a recipe - a course, book, how-to videos or something that will help you get to the end fast.

You’re a solopreneur, so your time is limited. Make sure whatever recipe / course / book you choose will help you get results fast. It’s the results that count, not your level of expertise.

Any thing worth learning to do has the potential to suck up all your time as you go down rabbit holes and try to learn what the experts say you should learn. Avoid this at all costs - we all start from zero, and if you really need to, you can become an expert over time.

Above all, focus on the results. Quick and dirty and done is a lot better than something you’re still agonizing about.

Getting someone else to do it for you (repetitive tasks)

If you’re outsourcing a repetitive task were something like a checklist is involved, use the following technique:

  • Show them how you do it using the checklist (once)
  • Do it with them using the checklist (once)
  • Watch them do it using the checklist (a couple of times)
  • Check in at least once a month to make sure things are being done right
  • Take their advice on how to get it done faster / better / easier. (They are now the process experts.)

Getting someone else to do it for you (expert stuff)

If you’re outsourcing something that you’re not expert at, and a checklist wouldn’t help, here’s the most important thing:

Define the outcome you’re looking for. Then make it clear to them that you need them to deliver those outcomes.

For example, if you decide to outsource your marketing, the outcome you’re looking for should be more leads for your business. It doesn’t matter how many posts they make, or how many backlinks (a web SEO thing) they build, it doesn’t matter.

The only question you’re really interested in is whether you’re getting the outcomes you’re looking for. For marketing, that happens to be more leads. If you’re getting more leads, they’re delivering the goods. If not, you will need to decide how to fix it.

The One Question in the Tornado Method defines the outcomes you’re looking for in each of the 11 elements of a successful business.

And here’s the bottom line

It doesn’t matter whether you decide to do it yourself, or get someone else to do it for you - there’s one bottom line you won’t be able to escape:

It’s going to take time, whatever you need to do, and however you decide to do it. Always take the quickest route, get it done, and get it out into the market. Perfection can wait.

One of my most-read articles is How to solve a big problem (even if you don’t know how). That provides more perspective on how to solve, well, big problems.