Updated: Sep 11, 2020
What is a micro business? What is a Solopreneur?
Well according to the Small Business Administration (SBA) a micro business or micro enterprise is a small business with less then 10 employees. Some even define it as a business with only up to 5 employees. While small businesses can have dozens of employees and still fit the definition of small, micro businesses are truly "small".
Solopreneurs are business owners with no employees. They are the only owner and employee of the business. This doesn't mean they don't contract out for services from other professionals to help them along the way. But as far as actual employees go, they have none.
Micro businesses make up over 90% of all businesses in the United States, and solopreneurs or non-employer businesses make up 80% of all businesses in the US! That means there are over xx million micro businesses in the US and of those over 26 million are solopreneurs.
The vast majority of business owners are doing it alone or with a very small team!
So why does it matter?
Well for one, it helps to know you're not actually alone. You're the only one in your business, but you're one of millions. That means there are millions of other talented, amazing business owners going through the same struggles, the same lessons and the same wins as you.
It also matters because for years it felt like the business space wasn't for people like me. People that were doing it alone or had a small team. It felt as though this was just a transitional step on the way to something bigger. Or at least that's what all the news articles led me to believe! Every blog post I seemed to come across, would chastise me about how doing it alone is ok, but it's a job not a business. To be a real business you have to grow.
Well I'm here to say, that's complete crap! A business of one or two or three or four or five is a real business! In fact it's almost EVERY real business! And it counts. You are building something real, and you definitely, absolutely count!
Challenges Facing Micro Businesses
Resources & help is mostly targeted toward bigger small businesses - Most resources out there assume you either have several employees or plan to at some point. It makes it so much harder to keep going as you feel left out and alone. A good support network is so important to success. Don't worry, you're not alone! As I said above there are millions of other people in the same boat. And many of us are willing to work together, share information and grow together. The internet and social media have made it easier than ever to connect. Find some groups to support each other. Want one to start with? Check out my Facebook group Navigating the Entrepreneurship Journey.
Depending on just one client - Smaller businesses can get caught in a trap of having one or two really big clients and becoming dependent on that source of income. This puts them in a really dangerous position and threatens long-term success. To help avoid this, make sure you work on creating great relationships with your clients and asking for recommendations. When you deliver service, ask them to review you on whatever sites you get reviews (Google, Facebook, Yelp, etc.) and to tell their friends. No matter how secure or busy you feel, don't stop posting on your social media, writing blog posts and reaching out. If you keep the marketing activity up when you're busy, it will help you find new clients when you get slower.
Burnout, fatigue and too many hats - This problem is so common for micro business owners and solopreneurs. And it makes perfect sense, because we're responsible for our entire business. It can get overwhelming! All the tasks big and small fall on your shoulders and it can burn you out. After all, you didn't get into business to do all the behind the scenes, you got into business to do what you love! There are so many resources available to help. Other small business owners offering their services as contractors. You can run more efficiently and contract out certain tasks. Tools made to standardize and automate your processes, so tasks get done automatically and you can focus on the bigger things. Make sure to incorporate the options available to you to free up your time for the parts only you can do!
Knowing when to grow & when not to - It seems like growing your business is the metric for success others have. The bigger your business, the more successful you are. But that is far from true! Success should be measured individually, by meeting goals that you have. Not by continuous growth for growth sake. In fact growth too fast, or when you were simply not ready, can lead to burnout, fatigue, bad customer experiences and negative reviews. You don't want any of that! It's important to take time periodically (as often as monthly or quarterly if your business is growing really fast or yearly or every few years if it's growing slower and depending on industry) to take time, breathe and evaluate. Are you ready to take on more? Can you afford the costs in time and money associated with the growth? Will it help you achieve not just your business goals, but your personal goals? It's ok to stop and say, no more growth right now. We're going to stay right where we are. It's ok to feel happy where you are and take the time to grow in other areas of your life. And it's ok to just breathe!
Getting lonely - If you're the only one running and operating your business, it can get super lonely! Especially as more and more business interactions move to the internet. Not only are you making decisions with no sounding board, but some days you may not see other human beings at all. And while your furry companion might be cute and all, it can get stressful. Join some local and internet based business groups. Especially ones focusing on similar topics that interest you. They don't need to be in the same industry, but perhaps a similar general category. These groups can help you grow as a business owner, learn new skills, build a network and stay focused on ways to keep improving. Not to mention you may just make some lifelong friends.
Tips for Making it as a Micro Business!
Now that we covered some of the challenges, and some ways to address them, let's chat about some ways to make sure you're successful. About 50% of businesses survive past 5 years. These tips (some of which might seem an awful lot like solutions to the challenges above 😉) will hopefully help you be in that 50%!
Avoid debt - I know this sounds hard. And I'm not entirely opposed to debt. But! And this is a huge but, most businesses are better off avoiding debt in their first few years. If at all possible, save up money, spend carefully, and make sure you set aside the appropriate amount for taxes and reinvesting in your business. Most micro businesses can be started with just a few hundred dollars. And as you start to make some money you should be reinvesting back into the business. Which in turn will help you make more money, etc. To really make this work you need to make sure to invest carefully and really weigh your options! If you can't avoid debt, for example, if you need to buy some expensive equipment to get started, make sure you prioritize paying down the debt as you bring in income. Look for dept options that are the lowest interest rate possible (some credit cards or credit lines are 0% interest if you pay it off within a certain time-frame), as this will help minimize the impact of the debt. And consult with your accounting about appropriately depreciating and writing off the expense!
Build a network and learn from each other - Running a business by yourself can get super lonely and exhausting. Not to mention, unlike a typical job, you don't necessarily have people to bounce ideas off of. Instead of going at it completely alone, try to find a network of business friends! Whether online groups, or in person meet-ups find a tribe. This network will be extremely helpful in succeeding. You can offer advice to each other. Be there when things get tough. Learn together. Support each other. And so much more. Not to mention when you surround yourself with people who have similar goals to your own, you both remind each other why you started on the path in the first place and help each other reach your goals! Looking for a group to offer support? Check out my Facebook group Navigating the Entrepreneurship Journey.
Get feedback often - The best way to make sure you're successful and can keep improving is to always ask for feedback! This has a few benefits. First, you'll learn what you need to fix, quickly. If you offer clients and friends the opportunity to tell you what's going wrong early, you can correct it sooner, rather than later. Second, if you get great feedback, you can use it as reviews and it will help inform future clients and fill them with confidence in your service!
Hire other business owners for help - Just because you're a shop of one or only a couple, doesn't mean you can't get a bit more help! You don't need to have an accountant, lawyer and IT person on staff. But you should find other local, small businesses offering these services and get help from professionals who can help make your business safer and more efficient. While you will need to wear many hats in your business, you don't need to learn every, single skill required in the smooth operation of a business. Let someone be the expert in their field so you can be the expert in yours and spend your time doing what you love and are great at!
Find the right tools & create automation - Another tip to save you time and make your business more efficient is to find the right tools that will cut your work and help you be more consistent and efficient. You don't need to write out every email by hand! Create beautiful templates and make sure responses to people who contact you from your website are personalized but automated to collect all the information you need before you have a call. Create online scheduling tools to give clients more options and save yourself time scheduling every appointment by hand. Create systems for inventory, contracts and other processes to keep your business consistent. The best way to create great service and get great reviews is to make sure every client has the same, consistent, great experience. Curious how I do it? Here's my toolbox of favorite tools and resources as well as tools and courses I offer!
Do you run a micro business? Are you a solopreneur? What's been your biggest challenge? Do you have any tips for success? I'd love to hear about it in the comments! #smallbusiness #microbusiness #solopreneur #tipsforsuccess #microbusinesschallenges #solopreneurchallenges #solopreneurtips #microbusinesstips