First Steps to Starting a Solopreneur Service-Based Business
Don’t build a website yet!
When starting a business, many people think that one of the first tasks is to build a website.
The more experienced I get in helping new businesses get traction, the more my perspective on this has shifted — I now believe that a website is useless for most new businesses… possibly even harmful.
If you are working to become a coach, consultant, mentor, healer, or other type of solopreneur service-based business, I recommend that you don’t build a website yet. (The exception is for business/marketing services — clients will expect a website.)
Trying to build a website will delay your business for months. It’s too easy to fall into the perfectionistic mode of figuring out your niche, your message, your brand, etc.
You don’t need any of those things to get your first batch of clients and to really validate where the market wants you to go with your business (and brand). Most prospective clients don’t care whether you have a website, unless you’re billing yourself as a marketing expert.
What they do care about is whether they know you (or have heard good things about your services), and whether they like your presence (by talking to you), and whether you can help them with their specific needs.
All of that can be communicated through social media (e.g. a Facebook Page, Instagram Profile, a Linkedin profile), or a zoom call, or simply via email.
If you try to build a website in the beginning of your business, two things usually happen:
- If you have a small budget, the website will probably turn out unprofessional-looking, and will likely decrease your credibility in the mind of the potential client.
- Or if you spend a lot of time and money on your website, you’re going to very likely want to make significant changes in the first few years, as you get clearer about your ideal client, your message, and your niche. So all that initial effort will feel like it was somewhat wasted time, energy, and money. I’ve seen it so often, hence the need to warn you.
Instead, here are the first tasks I recommend for you as you start your business:
- Start setting up your weekly and daily schedule, so that you’re working consistently on your business. See my best articles about joyful productivity.
- Start scheduling meetings with friends, one to one, to ask them feedback on how you’re describing the service you’d like to provide. See if they can think of anyone who would love that service. If not, see if they have any recommended changes you might make to your service so that it’s easier to refer you.
- Start creating content right away — daily if possible — on the social media platform you enjoy. Choices include: Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, Youtube, Medium, Twitter, and others. Creating content will bring you more and more clarity. I have many articles to inspire you to create authentic content.
- Every 5–10 content posts you make on social media, mention your new service and see if friends could refer you to new clients or introduce you to an experienced person in your industry who might offer some tips on what’s working for them in their marketing to get the right kind of clients.
- Once the above actions are in process, then start setting up the most basic software and administrative systems for your business, such as client scheduling portal (AcuityScheduling is what I use and recommend), an easier way to pay you (for example, paypal.me), your document organization (I recommend Google Drive), and finally, securing a domain name as you look forward to your future website. (Your domain name can simply be pointed to your Linkedin Profile or FB Business Page for the time being.) See my other recommended tools for solopreneurs.
I recommend that you delay the building of your website for as long as possible.
Over the years I’ve known some very successful consultants or coaches who never got a website going — they were too busy serving clients and fielding inquiries due to great word-of-mouth about their services.
The longer you’re willing to delay your website — and I mean for a few years if possible — the clearer you’ll become about your message and brand. The clarity comes from creating authentic content, as well as serving many different clients.
As you get more clarity from creating content, as well as more client experience under your belt, you’ll get a much better perspective on what really should go onto your website.
Eventually, if potential clients regularly ask whether you have a website, and now with years of experience serving actual paying clients, then you can plan your website, because then it’ll finally be worth doing.