We’ve Identified The 3 Biggest Bugbears In The Life Of Solopreneur Knowledge Commerce Marketers
There are some questions we want to ask you. These are the same ones we, at Solohacks Academy asked ourselves, when we started out in a Knowledge Commerce business. We also periodically ask this of many of our customers: “What are your biggest challenges when starting out in Knowledge Commerce?”
After beating around the bush for a while, all of us, solopreneurs, tend to come back to three main issues that we think of as top-priority challenges.
We want to spend as little as possible to get started in business. And, we want to spend as little time and effort as possible to get the most results we can.
All other challenges pale before the need to somehow climb to the top of our niches, without breaking too much sweat, where we can reach for the big bucks. Am I right? You bet I am. I’ve been there. That’s why I’m sharing this article with you …
Challenge #1: How To Do Business With As Less Money Spent As Possible
There are lots of ways you can avoid spending money when you start a Knowledge Commerce business. People will tell you things like: don’t invest in a fancy home-office, a fancy bookshelf full of Amazon’s latest bestsellers, buying expensive mailing lists … and so on.
But these don’t tackle the psychological problems that cause the big three spending issues that can derail you. Watch out for these:
a. Don’t Believe In The Fallacy That You Have To Spend Money To Make Money
There used to be a time when people believed that unless you were willing to spend money you could not really make money. It was a wise dictum when businesses were physical – and had to buy things like machinery, and a shop floor, and a huge inventory of product parts, to start producing something.
We live in the online world where everything – from creating your knowledge product, to the marketing, to the sales, and to the customer management – happens digitally through and through. No inventory needed, no prior investment needed. In fact, you don’t even need your own website and blog if you can begin with a space on Medium that’s free.
These days, therefore, you need little or no money to begin. The trade-off between spending and bootstrapping is this. The more work you are willing to do yourself for your business (and the less hiring or outsourcing or tools you think you need) the more you avoid any spending at all. More self-effort is equal to making more money. Spending money is not equal to making more money.
b. If You Have To Spend At All, Always Be Very ROI-Conscious
With a small budget you can make your start-up or small business go a fairly long way with Knowledge Commerce if you get your mental shift oriented towards ROI. Serious business people, even if they find they have to spend money unavoidably, have a difference in the questions they ask themselves.
The important question to ask every time you have to spend is not: “Should I be spending this, can I afford it?” … but the question should instead be “If I spend this money, what will I get back in return? Will that be more than I spend? And how long should I have to wait for that return?”
If you’re always calculating the ROI and gestation-estimate of every little thing every day, you will neither overshoot your budget nor scrimp on what is essential spending to grow.
c. Don’t Get Into The Destructive Habit Of “Frustration-Spending”
One other very important thing … when you are not making money as fast as you wish in Knowledge Commerce, you can at least not spend money faster. You’ll find a lot of knowledge marketers who can’t sit tight with patience while their content marketing waits to blossom. They let loose their frustrations by becoming “tool buying junkies”.
On the other hand, financially-focused bloggers usually decide upfront on how far they will go on spending as they wait for results – and they revise plans maybe once a quarter.
Then, come what may, they stick with the financial plans without using “frustration-spending” as a way to let out steam.
Challenge #2: How To Do Business With As Less Time Spent As Possible
In the eagerness and enthusiasm of building a new Knowledge Commerce business, it’s easy to want to spend a lot of time on the business. You may not realize that overspending time is a bad habit that can become an addiction, and disturb your future work-life balance.
You must make money and also have the time to enjoy that money, right? So let’s see three ways to spend less time on your business and still succeed more.
a. The First Trick … You Have Turn Tasks Into Habits
Please don’t ever be proud of your overlong to-do list. Many of us are list addicts, who easily become “listless” if we don’t seem to have long lists of tasks to tick off. We see our lists as our worthiness. That’s not what work is about.
Pick the top six tasks that contribute directly to earning money in your business (like writing blogs, doing social promotion, doing marketing activities, or tracking your money) and convert them into habits. The difference between tasks and habits is this. You have to think about the process when you do a task. With habits, they become tasks done without having to watch your every step with caution. They become semi-automatic. You still need to do them mindfully, but it doesn’t seem to need so much summoning of mental energy.
What’s the advantage of turning important tasks into habits? On those dreary, fatiguing days, it’s easier to do a thing because it has become a habit – whereas you’d tend to put off tasks that need harder mental application. Your persistence quotient gets higher if you have converted the tasks that really matter to your business into habits. How do you create habits out of tasks? By repetition. By following the same sequence of doing, over and over again, till you can do it without needing to rev up any special extra energy to begin.
b. The Second Trick … You Have Turn Habits Into Systems
Okay, so when you have a bunch of good habits, is that it? No way. There’s one more step to wise time management. It is to sequence all your good habits into a system. So what is a system? The dictionary explains that ” a system is a set of principles or procedures according to which something is done; an organized scheme or method.”
This brings us to the idea of scheduling. Take a calendar for the number of working days you have, and for each day have a set of fixed working hours. Now decide what your work sequences for the time slots in your working hours and working days should be. Make it all a rolling and repetitive system. You can’t count on the world around you being systematic, but you can at least count on yourself to work a few hours every day with some commitment to maintaining your system.
See, in your own solo business, no boss is watching to see if you are staying true to your word, and doing the few things that need doing every day, without let up. You need to build up your self-discipline – so that you don’t feel guilty for “dodging the boss” (i.e. yourself!) Success is not the stray lucky things you do. Success is hidden in the habits and systems you persist with day after day, even when it doesn’t look like they’re working. One day suddenly, the heavens will open up and it will pour.
c. The Third Trick … You Have To Build Passive Income Streams
While you’re working to a habit-and-systems plan, it helps also to see that you are spending time on building more products that can earn by themselves for you later – so you won’t have to keep working at them.
For instance, if you are spending time building some ebooks or courses that can sell endlessly to millions of people worldwide, even as you sleep, won’t your business scale without too much time-demand on you?
Isn’t that better than spending time growing a consulting services business, where you can only handle a finite number of clients per day, and cannot raise your rates beyond a limit?
Challenge #3: How To Do Business With As Less Effort Spent As Possible
As many experts say, you have to aim to work smarter than harder. But, if you are a solopreneur, and enjoy being one, it would help to meet the challenge of hard work with some smarts.
People often complain that there is so much information overload online, but that same overload can be your competition or your blessing. depending on how you see it.
a. Pinch Ethically From Others Who’ve Done The Same Work Before
One of my favorite ways of writing good blog posts is to pinch a lot of stuff from other authors of the topic – but pinch ethically. This method takes me less than 30 minutes to do a full-blown blog post of nearly 2000 words. Here’s how the process goes. Let’s say, I have to write a blog post today on how soon blogging will start to pay.
I’ll Google the phrase “how soon will blogging pay off” and see the resulting posts that Google throws up. The first twenty posts that answer this topic well will be my research ambit. I’ll go through each post and see all the key sub-topics that have been covered by the different authors. This will give me the “lay of the whole topic” and angles I could cover.
I’ll then group all the points I’ve noted, and make my own article outline that sequences all the key points as subheads. Then I’ll write my own copy under each subhead, so as to put my own point across under each subhead. I’ll write an almost equal number of words under each subhead, so as to add up to a total of 2000 words. By this method, I shortcut my thinking workload by using other people’s ideas to see the depth and breadth of the topic to cover. But I’ll write my own comments against each of the points to bring my own knowledge to the table.
b. Create Templates Of All Your Blog Posts, Newsletters, Knowledge Products
It helps reduce your workload enormously if you can have a template for every type of writing you have to do. For example, you could have templates of your blog posts, your email newsletters, your social posts, even your letters of outreach to other bloggers.
I would steer clear of readymade templates, though, because when I create my own template, I can ensure my brand stands out as I want it to. Once you have templates for everything and you know your templates inside-out, it’s so easy to write because you are just filling in the blanks.
Let me give you an example. My blog posts template has these parts:
- An opening paragraph highlighting the topic of the post
- An opt-in ad for my newsletter subscribers and for a PDF download of the blog post
- Three subheads to explain the details of the topic – sequentially
- At least three sub-points under each subhead
- Three quotes on the topic from good authors
- A Call-To Action to get my new book
See this post you are reading. It’s based on my blog posts template. I am so used to my template that when I write on a topic I automatically think in terms of 3 subheads and 3 points under each. My thinking has fallen into that groove.
c. Do More Of The Genuine Work And Less Of The “Pretend Busywork”
People who never get work done – or find it all onerous – are usually the ones who can’t separate their A priorities from their B and C priorities. To them, everything looks important. For example here’s a dilemma they’d find difficult to answer: “Is it more important to write a blog post daily, than to spend quality time upskilling by watching and learning from others’ video tutorials?”
How do you put things into boxes that are properly prioritized so your effort is proportionate to the result you can expect? Here’s a simple 1-2-3 …
- All jobs that directly contribute to earnings are A priority (e.g. writing blog posts, replying potential customers” emails or queries etc.). Making money is what you are in business for, right?
- All jobs that contribute to doing A priority jobs well are your B priority … so that means self-training, upskilling, learning, going through new technology etc. would qualify as jobs that help get better at A priority jobs.
- All jobs that keep your business running smoothly are C priority jobs e.g. doing the accounts, backing up important files, planning your editorial calendar etc. The earth wouldn’t crumble if you didn’t do these compulsively and first thing.
Now don’t get me wrong and dump the C priority jobs – they too need doing. Just that you would do the A priority jobs daily for about 5-6 hours, the B priority jobs twice a week for about 2-3 hours, and the C priority jobs one a week for about 1-2 hours. Prioritization simply means “giving something more attention for a longer time frame”.
In Summary …
- Solopreneurs’ biggest challenges in Knowledge Commerce are to spend less money, time and effort.
- Money can be saved by being very ROI-conscious and avoiding “frustration-spending”.
- Time can be saved by turning tasks into habits and systems – and by building passive income streams.
- Effort can be saved by smart but ethical “pinching”, using templates and prioritizing work.
- See how other solopreneurs are handling their challenges, but find your own sweet spots for these.
- And finally, follow the age-old axiom – time and effort are also equal to money.
So What Are Your Thoughts? Do Share!
This post is incomplete without your input. The community of Knowledge Commerce solopreneurs would feel galvanized to hear from you … so do share your thoughts on this topic with us, in the comments field below this post.
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