Category Archives for What is Solo Biz Hacking

Where Creative Business Ideas Get Stopped in Their Tracks

Lately, as part of doing research for our new web show, I’ve been talking to MANY solopreneurs.

The one thing that really struck me was how many great ideas people have for businesses – BUT – at the same time how many were stuck on how to really bring them into fruition.

The problem? The technology. People were either overwhelmed by how much there was to choose from, and therefore were stuck not really knowing what they should be doing and what would be wasting their time and money –

OR they had a good idea about the kind of technology that would work for their business, but were also stuck because they weren’t really sure in what to do with it to make it work.

Everyone has a strong knowledge about the thing they do, but far too many of you are not doing it because you are stuck on business aspects of the business – and especially with technology and marketing.

And, smart, hopeful solopreneurs have a huge target painted in their forehead by the marketing software companies and “gurus”, who all insist that you’ll only be successful if you do MY program. During my conversations, I heard the same story again and again.

“I bought XXX program for $2447 – and the content was really good – but I couldn’t quite “get” it enough to implement it in my business. So, I went to a few of the classes and then just stopped.

A month or so later, I bought another program – and the same thing happened. Then, I hired an assistant but I couldn’t find enough for her to do…

I thought that perhaps I needed my own coach to make all this work – so I invested in a year long program for $15,000. But, I don’t have the team (or the money to hire a team) to implement the coaches’ suggestions.”

Does this sound at all familiar?

What if you had a team that could help you one-on-one for the price of a group program? Normally, you would be concerned about the quality of the help you were getting!

Right now, we are recruiting for 4 business owners have their businesses transformed as part of our web reality show. We need to cover costs (and make sure that our contestants are committed). For $2500 – you get 90 days of working with us collaboratively, to get your business up and running plus help from our growing roster of experts (watch for the first announcement on Thursday), as needed AND exposure to our audience as we share your success story along the way.

Ah, but aren’t you just another one of those gurus, I here you ask?

We’ll no – we very much look at our client’s business and see what they need. We start from the premise that you, as the businesses owner, just wants to get on with what you do, not spend all your time on marketing and admin. Where we are different is that we try to get you running successfully with the minimum amount of fuss. We just do what works for you – in the way YOU work.

We created the web show idea as a way to really show off to a wider audience exactly how we work and how we get people up and running. I’m super excited about the businesses we’re already talking to about taking part.

Will yours be next? Click here for more info.

Are You The One We Are Saerching For?

Over the course of the last couple of weeks we have been having conversations with a number of our long term community members to try to make sure that what we re planning with our web reality show is something that will be useful to solopreneurs, and will be something people want to participate in, whether as a show guest or an audience member, or even as a guest expert (more on that in our next post)

We had a lot of great input from several people and have added to the concept we originally came up with, including a new element of audience participation (Thanks to Ellen Finkelstein for that one!).

The overwhelming reaction has been very positive and everyone is seeing it as something new that no-one else is doing. So it looks like it is all systems go!

In our last post, we asked “Would YOU do this?” And we are now ready to unveil who we are looking for to partake in our first series. So here are the core criteria of who we are looking for:

  • Willing to share your story (the ups and the downs) with our audience as a web show guest.
  • Coachable – willing to focus (and stick with) the plan we come up with to build your platform.
  • Willing to invest your time and money to make your business a success. (We are providing our services at half our regular rate for web show participants).
  • Fun and energetic! We want people to get to know, like and trust you as they get into your story. (Though you are getting solid business help – we want to keep our audience entertained and engaged at the same time).
  • Someone who has a solid business idea but has yet to make the leap of making it happen, OR someone who has started (maybe been trying for 1 or 2 years), but has got stuck and isn’t making any progress.
  • Is this you? Or maybe you know someone who might be perfect for the show?

The application page is now up  and will be open for the next two weeks. We will be choosing a total of 4 participants, the extra one being there in case one of the 3 chosen participants drops out.

We are still open to suggestions, if there are elements you would like to see on the show or you think would make the show better, we’d love to hear them.

In our next post we hope to introduce the first of our guest experts, so check back for that one!

Would YOU do this?

In our last blog post we talked about our new showcase for helping solopreneurs to make a living on their own terms by creating a successful business through reaching an audience online.

And we asked for your help – because we want (this time), to make sure it is going to be something you want and that will help you get you to where you want to be be – quicker and with fewer and less costly mistakes! (All solopreneurs make mistakes – it is part of the process).

So here is our idea – let us know what you think …

We want to follow the stories of 3 solopreneurs in a new 11-part reality web series series – either who have a business idea and are just starting to build an audience online, OR who have started – maybe are a year or two in – but are stuck and need help to get real momentum.

We will create a 90 day plan with our three podcast participants and follow their story over the three months of the plan. We want to show how three individuals with a passion to create their own business, deal with steps to make that happen.

We will be helping them to hone their audience, helping them to create awareness with that audience, that they have something to offer that can help them, how to capture that interest and convert them into paying customers. We look at the technology they need, how to show what makes them unique, build trust. How to predict and track visitors and sales. Ultimately, how to build a semi-automated sales machine that will work for them consistently and predictably and that will enable them to live the kind of life they want, on their terms.

The idea is to bring in additional experts to help them with various aspects of their business as needed, whether that be ecommerce, branding, mindset issues, whatever they need. And we will see if we can successfully help them launch upward on the journey towards financial autonomy – or will they crash and burn?

Each participant will work with us behind the scenes and will be recorded 3 times each. Our ‘season’ will consist of an introductory show, 9 interview shows, and a wrap-up show to see how everyone did, making a total of 11 weekly shows for a season (possibly 2 seasons per year).

We also want our viewers to participate as well. We shall be doing weekly challenges, based on the challenges the show participants are going through. Viewers can post their challenge homework to a dedicated Facebook Group and will be awarded points. Prizes will be awarded to the people who gain the most points over the season. That way, the viewers can ‘play along’ and make progress on their own businesses, benefiting from the advice given on the show.

We are also looking to do a weekend live event for 6 more participants who want to go through the process but don’t want to be on a ‘reality show’. This will be a 3 day intensive, pretty much going through the same process but over three days and will have ongoing email support for the full 90 day period.

So what do you think? Is this something you would watch?  Participate in?

Would you want to be a web reality show participant?

Would you prefer to come to a weekend live event instead?

Is there anything you would like to see added?

What would YOU look for in a 90 day program?

This is not set in stone for us – if no-one wants it we won’t create it – we don’t want to make THAT mistake again. And we are happy to entertain changes in the program. So let us know what you think…

If the feedback is positive, on Tuesday we’ll let you know more about who we are looking for to participate on the show…

Crimes of Passion

Last week we talked about where we went wrong in our business, to the point where we literally had to pull the plug because it just wasn’t working. However, the lessons we learned from our 100 interviews in our Paycheck To Passion podcast were still valid as far as being able to help solopreneurs succeed. These lessons were that solopreneurs struggle with 3 things:

1) Not having a concrete plan (or path) to follow
2) Not having people around them who understand what they are going through or trying to achieve
3) Getting overwhelmed by trying to do everything there is to do in a business all by themselves, and thus not ending up doing the thing they went into business to do in the first place.

However, there was a fourth lesson we learned – and learned the hard way – just because you think you have a solution people will want, you need to test that assumption before going all the way down the long path of building it. It turns out that, although our solution to the above problems all solopreneurs face addressed each of the issues, the “fix” (in this case, Time Traders Club), wasn’t how solopreneurs operated – at least not enough of them. The problem was that the solution we came up with was too complicated for most solopreneurs to work.

The problem was that we were passionate about helping people make a living on their own terms, doing something they love to do, by reaching an audience online. Our ‘crime of passion’ was not doing the research to make sure the ‘how’ of what we were delivering was what was wanted.

However, those issues are still very relevant to a lot of solopreneurs out there. We still very much want to help solopreneurs overcome them, by giving them a concrete plan to follow; connecting them with other solopreneurs who understand the unique challenges they are going through; and to help them avoid getting overwhelmed by all that they have to do on a daily basis, by showing them there are other – better – ways to operate than by trying to do everything yourself.

So here’s what we are thinking.

We want to showcase how it can be done in a brand new story-based video podcast.

So many solopreneurs waste years of effort and thousands of dollars on doing the wrong things. As “Solo Biz Hackers” we want to hack passed that wasted effort and get people to the part where their business starts working for them. This is how we help people on a one-on-one basis in our coaching practice.

But we need your help.

We don’t want to make the same mistake as before and go into all the effort of building something only to find it is not what people need.

So this time we are asking first – doing the research – making sure what we offer is what you need.

Check your inbox on Thursday and I’ll go into more detail about our vision for the new podcast, and how you can help us make sure it is something you will want to see happen.

Here’s what happened…

In our last post, Jasper wrote about why we decided to pivot our business away from Time Traders Club. It really came down to two things for us…

Time Traders Club (a time bank for entrepreneurs) sounded better in theory than it was in practice (we weren’t making money at it) and also we ended up becoming coaches in another program and didn’t have the time and energy to essentially start over and do what needed to be done to make Time Traders Club work.

It has been a few months since we made the decision to close down Time Traders Club, and I can now look at what happened with a bit more perspective. There were three reasons that Time Traders Club never took off…

The first one was that we didn’t properly test the idea. When we talked to people about TTC – they were really excited about the concept. We quickly grew our free membership to hundreds of people. There were two issues with that – the first was that we weren’t selective as to who could be in the group. Everyone who joined was great – but we had the wrong balance of people We attracted a lot of people who needed technical help – but few people who had the skills to truly help.

Plus, we were making things really, really complicated. Because we were trading “hours”, we needed a system that allowed people to find people whose skills matched plus track the hours. Because a virtual time bank is a NEW idea, there weren’t systems in place that did this well. We spend thousands of dollars on three different systems, none of them were easy to use for the members. Trades did not happen because they weren’t easy to do.

And, finally, because people joined the group for free help, they weren’t as willing to pay to be part of the group. We didn’t have enough paying members to keep the lights on and we needed to close our doors.

I’ve had plenty of time to reflect since then…. Plus coaching other business owners to success has helped me frame what happened to our business a bit better.

We still believe that knowing how to leverage your skills to make money online is one of the most important skills you can have right now. Being able to make money on your own gives you freedom to live the life you want. We want to help you do that.

And, combining what we learned from Time Traders Club and from coaching clients this past year, we THINK we’ve come up with a better way.

But, we need your help… because we don’t want to get it wrong again.

I’ll let you know what we have in mind next week.

So Where Did We Go Wrong?

Ever since we got together at a coworking space in Albuquerque in the summer of 2013, our mission has been to help people who want to create a living on their own terms by reaching a paying audience online. Over the years we have tried a number of different avenues on how best to achieve that, gradually moving from a virtual assistant type model to more of a coaching model.

Two big events happened in 2017 that fundamentally changed our business plan. The first is that both of us ended up getting hired by a St Louis based Inc 500 company to coach their new Mastery Program clients.

The coaching program to help clients either take a new business to a viable level, or a current business that wasn’t generating enough customers into a viable business – creating a Blueprint Plan to get them there and supporting them through the process of building their leadership authority, creating a funnel, and building the content and process infrastructure they need to create an ongoing semi-automated flow of new prospects.

The second momentous event came a little over a month later when we realized that, after three years of effort, Time Traders Club, our solopreneur knowledge and skills trading site and time bank was just not generating the interest to make it sustainable. We decided that we needed to shut it down and find a new avenue for helping solopreneurs. It was a tough decision – we had put a lot of work into the project over the previous three years, but it wasn’t working.

We thought we had come up with a way to tackle the three major issues that most solopreneurs come up against, which we established clearly over the course of 100 interviews with a wide variety of solopreneurs in our Paycheck To Passion Podcast, the lessons of which led us to writing our book, The ESCAPE Plan: 6 Steps To Leaving The Job You Hate by Creating a Business You Love. Those 3 issues are:

1) Not having a concrete plan (or path) to follow
2) Not having people around them who understand what they are going through or trying to achieve
3) Getting overwhelmed by trying to do everything there is to do in a business all by themselves, and thus not ending up doing the thing they went into business to do in the first place.

We thought our skills sharing/ time bank idea was the solution to help in all three of these areas – helping solopreneurs to operate in THEIR zone of brilliance – but it turned out not be the case.

So where did we go wrong? What did we miss that led us to the wrong conclusions?

Tune in to my next post on Thursday and I’ll outline the lessons we learned … something you might benefit from yourself before you make the same mistakes we did.

Look out for that post in your inbox, or on our blog…

It’s Jasper’s Birthday

I’ll keep it short today. It’s Jasper’s Birthday and we are celebrating by giving you a tiny gift. In addition to these daily tips, we have a weekly .PDF newsletter called Solo Biz Hacks. While these bites are just quick inspirations, the full hacks are 3-4 page step by step strategies.

Normally, a monthly subscription is $7 (for 4 issues) or most people choose the annual version for $77. In honor of Jasper’s birthday, we are lowering our annual price to $55. Click here to grab your very limited time discount.

Now, back to the birthday party….

Solo biz hacking process

The Solo Biz Hacking Process

Want to achieve growth like a big start up – even if you are a solopreneur?

While we can’t promise you billions, we can promise growth in your business if you take a page from the “unicorns” (super successful tech start ups) and hack your business.

Here are the basic steps for hacking your solo business:

Set a Goal

Goal setting is the first step to almost anything worthwhile in life. And, it is the foundational step to the biz hacking process. You need to know where you are going in order to get there. The key to setting a good goal is that it needs to be measurable and actionable. Just saying – “I want to be more successful” is a terrible goal statement. Even – “I want to grow my e-mail list” lacks specificity. You want to set a goal with a quantity and a deadline attached.

You also want to make sure that your goal is narrow enough to complete. “Grow e-mail list” is something that will never be completed. “Grow e-mail list by 2% might be completed – but it isn’t in your control. How are you going to grow your e-mail list?

Here’s an appropriately bite-sized goal: look at the co-schedule report to see what the most popular content on my blog was for the previous week and promote that content to social media.

Create the Experiment

To know whether or not your new strategy will be successful, you need to create an experiment. In order to do that, you need to have a baseline to measure improvement from. This is why it is important to know what your numbers are before you start to make any changes. Once you know your baseline, make a guess about how much of an effect your change will have.

For the example I gave about promoting blog content, my experiment statement would be:

For 4 weeks, I am going to promote my 3 most popular blog posts from the past month on Facebook, Twitter and Linked In. I am going to promote the post daily on Twitter and twice on the other social media channels. I think that this change will result in a 10% increase in traffic to my website.

Measure the Results

To know whether or not the experiment worked, you would need to look at the traffic data for the website. For an experiment like this, I would track weekly and end the experiment in a month.

Learn from the Data

Once you have run the experiment, examine the results. Were they what you thought they would be? What will your next tweak be?

Most businesses are 6 or 7 tweaks away from being profitable. Keep tweaking and you’ll keep growing.

Solo Biz Hacker

3 Reasons Why You Should be Solo Hacking Your Business

Is solo biz hacking only for geeks? No, in fact, making business decisions based on data and experimentation is actually just plain good management. At it’s core, solo biz hacking is systematically looking at each part of your business and planning, small incremental improvements based on results.

At first, that might seem like a lot of work. And, it may seem pretty far removed from your mission, but the time invested up front will be returned multiple times with better systems and increased profits for your business.

Here are three reasons why you should start solo-hacking your business:

  1. Less wasted money. It is very easy to lose money in business by doing things that aren’t working or you. One of the first things any good coach will have you do, is to go through your “subscriptions” and weed out the things that are not working. As a hacker, you’ll be measuring everything you do in your business. You’ll be able to catch the things that aren’t working more quickly. You’ll save money and be able to invest it in the things that truly pay off for your business.
  2. Less wasted time. Time is the most precious commodity in your business. Once you’ve spent it, you can’t get it back. Wasted time means wasted money that could have been earned but wasn’t. And living expenses – food and rent – are relentless – they come around every week, every month without fail. Consciously creating processes and tweaking them until they are effective, will save you time in the end. You’ll be doing what works and not wasting time on the things that don’t work. And you are much more likely to be able to afford rent and food!
  3. Solid systems. Solo biz hacking creates systems for your business. Systems create freedom because once you have a process developed, you are able to pass that system off to other people to implement and execute. Until you have a system, you are going to be stuck doing all of the work in your business yourself. Solid business systems are also a business asset. Having data-driven, proven systems in place will put you at a huge advantage.

Imagine what your business will be like when you make systematic changes to your business based on results not just intuition (which, by the way, it almost always wrong). You’ll grow and make more money. What are you waiting for? Get started today.

What is Solo Biz Hacking?

Every day there seems to be a new story of a startup gone big. A bright young coder has an idea, goes to an “incubator”, becomes a “unicorn”, and has a company worth $1 billion. That story has become the modern American Dream.

Of course, even in the startup world where there are plenty of investors and resources for emerging tech companies, your chances of becoming a unicorn are about 1.28%

Still, if you look at what the unicorns have in common, you’ll see that they are very focused on data and growth. This is called growth hacking. Even aspiring unicorn tech companies use the growth hacking framework to make data driven decisions to help them make more profit quickly.

The good news: you don’t have to be a tech start up to hack your business.

A hacker is someone who is more concerned with achieving an objective than following a prescribed process. In other words, hackers care more about what needs to get done than how it should get done. As a result, hackers often come up with innovative ways to get things done.

Solo Biz Hacking goes beyond just doing things “differently”, it focuses you on measuring the success of your experiments and doing what works. As a slow biz hacker you’ll know what’s working in your business and what isn’t. Because you’ll be tweaking based on data, your business will be growing.

Instead of spending hours each day wondering what to do next and wallowing in the what-if’s and overwhelmed with choices, you’ll be clear. And, clarity is the enemy of overwhelm. You don’t need to be a tech start up to make this happen. You just need to have a commitment to the three tenets of Solo Biz Hacking

Easy 3 Step Solo Business Hacking Process

The three steps to the solo business hacking process are:

Do – simply get out there and try something. Don’t wait for it to be perfect. Ship.
Measure – figure out what success would be for you. Is it number of sales? An increased open rate?
Learn – take the lessons you’ve learned, tweak your process and start over.

Most solo business owners do not do these three things on a regular basis. if you incorporate them into your business, you’ll start to see growth – because you’ll be planning for it.