As a solopreneur, you wear many hats. You’re both employer and employee, which also means that you are bookkeeper and accountant, appointment scheduler and marketer, customer service representative and tax preparer. And that’s just a few of your roles.
At the end of the day (the incredibly long and sometimes extremely tiresome day), it’s not uncommon to have very little energy left to focus on growing your business. Yet, at the same time, if you don’t, like a plant left without water, you risk killing it all together.
So, what can you do to build up your client list as a solopreneur without investing a lot of time and energy that you really don’t have? Here are three of the strategies that have worked quite well for me.
Do What You Say You’re Going to Do
I can’t tell you how many clients I’ve worked with who have been surprised that I deliver on time and abide by my price quotes. Apparently, this is not the norm.
Based on the stories they’ve shared, a lot of solopreneurs don’t do too well in the customer service department. They either fall short on their promises or bite off more than they can chew, both of which leaves the customer out to dry.
While this is pretty disheartening to hear, it is also the one factor that has enabled me to really stand out. In fact, I get about one call a month from someone who was referred by a former client who appreciated that I kept my word.
When you follow through with your promises, former clients are more than willing to send referrals your way. The end result is that your business begins to grow.
Action task: Find ways to under-promise and over-deliver so your clients always feel like they’re getting more than they’re paying for. And if they do send you a referral, take the time to tell them thank you. Even a quick email is enough to let them know that you appreciate them sharing you with their colleagues, family, and friends.
Offer Expanded Services to Loyal Clients
As a writer, I specialize in health and wellness topics (which have always been an interest of mine) as well as personal defense (thank you, 15 years in law enforcement). These are the areas I’m knowledgeable about and comfortable with, so these are also the topics I tend to stick to when taking on new work.
That being said, there have been times where clients of mine have reached out and asked me to go outside these bounds a bit and write about things I know less about. Of course, there are some topics that I simply can’t grasp enough to do this with (tech? no thanks), but others I’ve agreed to do because I have enough knowledge to get the job done.
Admittedly, these types of projects often take me some extra time, since I’m not totally familiar with where to go to find the best and most trusted research. But I usually take them anyway because I value my loyal clients enough to provide them with a few extra services that I wouldn’t normally offer.
The results have been great when I do this, with many clients thanking me for helping them out when they needed it, even though they knew it was outside my realm. In fact, I have one client that provides me a ton of work simply because I’m willing to go above and beyond.
Action task: If a client asks you to do something that may not be in your current service offerings, really consider whether doing it will ultimately help your business grow. Who knows? You may just find a new service area that you enjoy, simply because you didn’t immediately say no.
Establish Real Relationships with Your Target Market
I love the idea behind LinkedIn for growing your business because it enables me to connect with my B2B target market. However, one aspect of this social media site that I really don’t enjoy is when someone wants to connect and the minute I accept, they send me an email trying to convince me to hire them. Ugh.
The last thing I want to do is make my prospective clients feel that same way. That’s why, if I want to connect with potential clients, I focus on establishing a relationship with them first. I get to know them and tell them that I look forward to networking with them…and then I ask for nothing.
My goal out of the gate isn’t to try to sell them or give them 20 ways I can make life easier. It’s simply to let them know that I’m there and to talk about what they are working on. If my services enter into the mix and I can help, great. If not, that’s okay too.
I know that when people do this with me, I’m much more prone to listen down the line if there is a product or service they have to offer that could be of help to me. At that point, it feels more like the idea of hiring them is coming from a friend and not someone who wanted to connect solely because they wanted to secure a payment from my checkbook.
Action task: Focus on connecting with your target audience without attaching any strings. Comment on their social media posts or strike up a conversation to learn more about what they do. Make it a real relationship so if your services are ever needed, they’re more likely to be used.
I probably could share more but, as a solopreneur, there is other work I still need to get done today, so it’ll have to wait. In the meantime, try implementing these three things in your business and see what a difference it makes. It worked for me, so my hope is that it works for you too.