I’ve written a lot about the overall strategies to grow one’s authentic business.
But what about actual actions and ongoing habits?
This post provides 4 questions to guide you.
Let’s start with the most important. It’s not “what’s your niche?” or “have you set up your email list?”
When advising a new client who is starting their solopreneur service business, I don’t recommend creating a website right away, nor clarifying a niche yet.
I recommend that you first create content, because that is where true clarity comes from.
Here is the first and most important question — no matter if you’re just starting your business, or already have a thriving one:
1. What is your content creation rhythm?
By dedicating yourself to a consistent habit of content, you’ll develop a sustainable level of creativity and energy that flows into other parts of your business.
I make no excuses for content creation. Even when I’m sick, my 3 priorities are: (1) sleep, (2) drink lots of water, and (3) make sure I create content!
If you are just starting out, my recommendation is to create content daily. (It’s fine to take a break on the weekend.) We’re not aiming for anything perfect or polished. See it as a practice of sharing your authentic thoughts, in the ways you already know — whether it’s writing articles or making videos. Daily practice will grow your skills faster, and eliminate excuses, compared to trying to do it once a week.
If writing, aim for 200–500 words daily. This will uplevel your skills much faster than doing it occasionally.
If making videos, aim for 1–10 minutes per video, daily. When I first started making videos I did it 5 days a week until I got to video #100.
Are you working a full-time job and caring for family, and it’s truly too hard to create daily? Then commit to 1 thoughtful post per week, without fail. You might draft the post one day, then edit and post it on a different day, allowing yourself to “sleep on it” before publishing.
If you’re curious about my weekly rhythm as a mature, solopreneur business, it looks like this:
New Content each Friday — video and blog post. Example.
Repurposed Content each Monday, Tuesday, Thursday:
I primarily schedule/post content on my Facebook Business Page so that I can reliably reach my audience, via Facebook Ads.
You don’t have to follow my exact process. The point is to have a schedule that allows you to stay consistent in expressing your authentic thoughts related to your business.
Stay faithful to your content rhythm, while allowing it to gradually change as needed.
When I started creating years ago, I was making a lot more new content:
2. What is your content distribution plan?
If you create content, but have no plan to make it visible (to “distribute” your content) the truth is that very few people will see your content. You might get discouraged quickly.
When new clients ask me how to distribute content, I recommend starting with Facebook Ads. After a few months, you’ll have regular engagers.
Another great way is to use collaborations, in other words, having other people distribute your content (could be your videos or written pieces), if they have an audience of people you want to reach. I’ve been successfully collaborating on content distribution for years, so I now teach a course on that too: Simple Collaborations and Authentic JV’s.
Here is my current content distribution plan:
If you’re just starting with Facebook Ads, you don’t have to spend that much. Try with just $30/month total to start, and increase it as you learn how to do it effectively.
If you have an active FB personal profile where your friends are potential referral sources, I would recommend sharing your content regularly on your profile as well. In the beginning, that’s where most of your network is.
If there are any online groups, e.g. a Facebook group, where they encourage you to share content, that is another place to distribute your posts.
3. What is your plan for offers and launches?
Distributing content regularly is a great start. It builds your audience and credibility.
But do you also regularly invite them to work with you?
Oftentimes, your audience is not even aware of your products and services! Just because you have a website that describes them, or once in a while you mention it, the reality is that your audience probably isn’t seeing your offers enough to really consider it.
Here’s my rhythm of offers:
If you’re just starting out, a simple plan would be to post an invitation to your services once or twice a month, on whatever platforms you’ve been posting your content consistently.
4. What is your plan for connections (netcaring)?
When I first started, reaching out for collaborations was my main marketing strategy. Even though many people didn’t respond or say Yes to me, a few important ones did, and that really put my business “on the map”, so to speak.
Before we have a large audience, it’s really helpful to collaborate with others who already have a bigger audience than we do. Since I’ve been collaborating for 10 years, I now teach a course on it: Simple Collaborations and Authentic JV’s.
In the past few years, due to my consistent rhythm of content and offers, my client roster has been consistently full. And yet, I still continue to reach out every month to at least a few potential collaborators: people with similar audiences (sometimes bigger, sometimes smaller) that I could trade interviews with.
I recommend that you do the same. Especially if you still have a lot of client openings.
I call it “netcaring” — keeping in touch with people you like (remembering what you genuinely appreciate about them) as well as reaching out to new potential collaborators who seem like kindred spirits. Here is a sample weekly plan.
Just be sure to connect authentically. I wrote about how a colleague reached out to me in a way that didn’t feel right: How not to reconnect with professional colleagues.
Remember: netcaring is about connecting with people from a place of genuine enjoyment (appreciating some characteristics about them, and truly being grateful for who they are) rather than from a motive that you want them to do something for you.
Now it’s your turn to look at your own plan.
For your own business, answer the 4 questions:
If you’d like more guidance and templates for such planning, my Authentic Business Intro Course goes deeper.
I wish you an effective use of your time as you build your authentic business.
Learning best happens through action and observation, so I encourage you to go for it. Experiment and learn!
(This post was first written in 2018, updated for 2020.)
George Kao is a Marketing Coach for small business owners, especially solopreneurs such as Coaches and Mentors. He focuses on ethical & effective ways to grow one's platform and build true livelihood.
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