The Accomplished Solopreneur

Issue 24.17

Saturday, April 27, 2024

Image courtesy of DALL-E via ChatGPT

Troubleshoot your business Part 0: Introduction

Six weeks ago I started a series called Build a solopreneur business. The 5 articles in the series went through the very least you need to build a business, and by necessity (as a series of articles), did not get into too much detail. In retrospect, there are 2 problems with a series like that:

  • First, most of us are already some way down the road - very few of us are starting out from scratch.
  • As a series of articles, things are by necessity not detailed - that would require an extensive course and ideally some handholding as well.

So in this series, I’m going to look at how to “troubleshoot” a business. This works whether you’re just starting out or already some way down the road. And I can get a little more detailed, so you get more practical value from it.

Who this is for, and what we’re going to do

There are 2 key questions I want to answer in this series:

  • Where do I need to focus next?
  • What do I need to do about it?

You will discover how this works as we go along.

This series is for anyone who has, wants or is building a solopreneur or small business. I’m not yet sure how many articles there will be, but we will cover:

  • A common language for talking about business (this article, so you know what I mean when I say “marketing” in future articles)
  • Troubleshooting your Building Blocks (your niche, brand and offers - 3 articles)
  • Troubleshooting your Revenue Engine (marketing, sales and so on - at least 3 articles).

So this will be a longer journey, but you will learn a lot, and have a better business at the end of it. I will add a detailed table of contents so you have a reference for all the articles.

In this article, we’re going to start with a common language to talk about your business.

A common language for talking about business

One of the biggest challenges we have when talking about business is that each of us has a different world view.

Our world view - the combination of education, training, expertise and experience - gives each of us a unique perspective and understanding of a particular topic.

For a brand specialist, almost everything in a business happens as a result of your brand. For a marketer, everything is seen through their perspective as a marketer. Put a brand specialist and a marketer in the same room, and each will claim they hold the keys to a successful business. (Both are partially right.)

So to make sure we’re all talking about the same thing, let’s start with a common language for talking about business.

Introducing the Tornado Method

As a “systems thinker” (I have systems for the most nerdy things) I’ve always wanted to have a system that will tell me where I need to focus in my business. That system is the Tornado Method:

The Tornado Method is a framework that contains all the things you need to have a successful business - and a life.

There are 11 elements in the Tornado Method, and after using it for 7 years (it was born in 2017!) I can say, with confidence, everything you need is here.

This is top level view of the Tornado Method:

Top level view of the Tornado Method

Very briefly:

  • Your Revenue Engine is how your business makes money. You market to make people aware you exist, nurture your leads when they show up, make the sale and deliver the goods.
  • Your Building Blocks define your niche (business model), what you look like (brand), and your offerings (product ladder).
  • At the bottom is Getting Stuff Done - how effective you are at actually getting things done.

The layers build on each other. For example, your Revenue Engine will never work if you don’t offer the right products at the right price.

I could go on, but there’s a much better resource.

Your first homework

Your first homework is to download and read the Beginner’s Guide to the Tornado Method. It’s a 47-page free PDF that explains the Tornado Method in detail, and once you’ve read it, you and I will understand each other when we talk about things like brand.

So you need to do 2 things:

  • Read it (about 20 minutes for a first reading).

There’s one more thing you need to know.

Where do I need to focus next?

The Tornado Method gives us a framework for talking about business. Once you’ve read through the Beginner’s Guide, you will also understand that each layer of the Tornado Method builds on the layers below it:

  • Your Revenue Engine won’t work if your Building Blocks are shaky.
  • Your Building Blocks will be shaky if you don’t spend the time to get them rock solid.
  • Nothing works if you can’t manage your time and get stuff done.

I’m not going to go into Team, Culture and Personal Effectiveness (the Getting Stuff Done) layer in detail in this series - I’m going to assume you can spend a little time each week to read the article and do the homework.

But there is a sequence to troubleshooting your business.

  • We’re going to start with the Building Blocks (because your Revenue Engine won’t work if your business model, brand and products are shaky).
  • Then we’re going to work through the Revenue Engine from left to right.

I learnt how important this is as recently as this week.

A lesson learnt the hard way

The inspiration for this series of articles comes from some other, deeper work I’m doing (more about that later), but I learnt this lesson as I was troubleshooting my own business.

Here’s the lesson I learnt:

  • The people I help are solopreneurs.
  • The problems I help them solve are overwhelm, not knowing where to focus next, and when they do, not knowing how to fix the problem.

When I evaluated my offerings (my product ladder), one of the questions I had to rate myself on was:

How well does your product ladder (your offerings) address the problems you help them solve? Rate yourself on a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 is not at all, and 10 is a perfect match.

To my shame, I had to rate myself a 3/10. I may be a little harsh on myself (we tend to do that), but it was a real eye opener.

If I want to help solopreneurs deal with overwhelm, understand where they need to focus next, and then show them how to do it, I should have one or more products or offerings for each of those areas, right?

My offerings don’t, and it was a real eye opener. They will soon, and this series of articles is based on that realization and inspiration.

What this means for you

I learnt the hard way that my Revenue Engine is not working as well as I would like it to because my Building Blocks are not what they should be.

And that’s why we’re going to start with the Building Blocks.

Do your homework 😁

Now it’s over to you. Download the Beginner’s Guide to the Tornado Method and read it. I’ll see you next week.