By Bigg Success Staff
December 06, 2007

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Every year, Inc. magazine publishes the Inc. 500, the 500 fastest-growing private companies in the U.S. A recent article, written by Terri Lonier, about one of those companies caught our attention.

Lessons From a Soloist Who Reached the Inc. 500 List is about a one-man company that made their list. Now that’s an unusual feat! You may be shocked to learn that Jim Fairchild, who bought out his partner several years ago to become the sole employee of Coggin & Fairchild Environmental Consultants, Inc., finished 2006 with $3.4 million in sales. That’s right – a single person operating alone!

The article is chock-full of good advice spread among 9 tips for becoming a “solopreneur”. It’s definitely worth the read. Here are some tips for getting started as a soloepreneur:

  • Stick with what you know.
  • Don’t stray too far. Focus on what you already do. Study it even more so you become an expert in a micro-segment of your industry. As a solopreneur, your market doesn’t have to be that big.

  • Find a void.
  • What’s a problem you see that you can solve better than anyone else? Think the “d-test”. Do something that’s dirty, difficult, dangerous, or designed. By designed, we mean customized (but we had to have a “d”). Find something that either your customer doesn’t want to do or doesn’t know how to do.

  • Make your size your advantage.
  • There are advantages to being big. There are benefits to small. And there are pluses to just being you. You can move faster and provide a higher quality service by going it alone. Make this your advantage as you design your service.

  • Find a customer.
  • A wise businessman once asked, “How do you start a business?” Then, he answered his own question, “Find a customer.” That’s what it really takes. That customer may even be your current employer. There may be advantages to hiring you as a consultant, rather than as an employee.

  • Ask for referrals.
  • Thrill your first customer. Then ask for referrals. Get another customer. Ask for more referrals. Leverage your way into a diversified income. Then, when one of your customers decides to start using someone else (and they will), only part of your income will be affected.

  • Leverage your time.
  • Find ways to bill your customers for the value of the service you deliver. It’s hard to get wealthy billing by the hour. If what you’re doing meets one of the “d” tests above, you’ll find it easier to charge a premium for your services.

    Another way to do this is to sell the services of people or companies with whom you’ve strategically aligned yourself. You can diversify your service mix without increasing your overhead. Make sure you screen these providers, though. You don’t want your reputation to be harmed by someone else’s imcompetence.

  • Keep costs low.
  • Start out at home, if you can. Outsource, so you don’t waste precious time and money. Focus on your core competencies. You may find other home-based solopreneurs whose core competencies meld perfectly with yours.

  • Analyze each project from multiple viewpoints.
  • Is the customer happy?
    Are your strategic partners happy?
    Are you happy?

    If your answers aren’t all affirmative, what should you do differently the next time a project like this comes your way?

Being a solopreneur can be both lucrative and fulfilling. Hopefully, our article and the article we’re referring you to will provide some inspiration for you to get started. Maybe you’ll be the next solopreneur on the Inc. 500!