I recently went to a forum in Geneva, where a young entrepreneur was explaining how he was monetizing his presence on You Tube via providing reviews on Tech equipment hence turning his passion into a job. This is just one example among many other possibilities on how you can easily start a career online in the 21st century. Many questions in the room started to pop up around the topic of starting an activity and how to test your market potential. Therefore, I wanted to write this piece in order to give you some orientation.
There is this new generation of entrepreneurs emerging on the web called solopreneurs. Solopreneurs come in all shapes and forms. They may be people who experienced employment and decided to go solo or young professionals who just know that working for a salary is just not what their life is about. Thanks to the wide array of applications, social media and other high tech equipment, anyone with knowledge in something can start an activity. You love making jewelry; you can sell your crafts online. You want to do consulting, all you need is to differentiate yourself. This is where it becomes tricky… Becoming remarkable is not so easy...
Tip 1: Look at the market potential in your region
You can look at social media groups existing on your topic of interest, ask questions in forums to get an idea about customer needs as much as you can. Creating a social media page or a group is always a great idea because you can edit it as you get a better clue on your service/product and how you will deliver it. I recommend a great book on the topic of building solutions called Value Proposition Design by Alex Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur.
Tip 2: Look at people who started activities in similar fields
Study the greatest. Look at what others have done on a similar topic and what could be added to bring more depth or a new angle. Maybe you need training, mentoring or resources and contacts. The solopreneur 3.0 is not born with all the answers but the great thing is that you can learn with a few clicks and the right advice.
Tip 3: Surround yourself
Most solopreneurs want to keep their idea secret and work alone by fear of someone stealing the concept. You need to do the opposite and ask for a lot of feedback around you. I usually prefer to have people get professional feedback early on, especially in the High Tech/ Applications business when development costs can skyrocket very fast. When you start working, I also recommend surrounding yourself. You can start alone first, but you will need more ideas, resources and expertise to be noticed and grow your business.
Tip 4: Stay lean
I typically advise solopreneurs to keep operating costs minimal, so that you don’t have more money outgoing than incoming. You can always start to work in a smaller place. Offices and travel costs can add up quickly so make sure you can justify why it is important that you make the expense: Special events, forums, customers meetings.
Tip 5: Test small first
Testing will help to stay lean. Examples of testing could be to create a basic product or service that you can easily upgrade or edit. Here are a few examples of business models to pick from once you build up your audience / followers:
- Use a platform to run paid commercials later (You Tube, Blog or heavily visited website)
- Freemium business model (Some content is free, some content is premium)
- Sell online courses for a fee (Consulting, Trainers, Coaches business model)
- Collect a service fee to put in touch user and service provider ( "uberization" model)
Finally, my biggest tip to all aspiring solopreneurs 3.0 is to start and test. A teenager can open a You Tube channel and monetize the number of viewers with paid commercials so what are you waiting for to claim your spot? Now is the ideal time to join the movement as our economy is definitely shifting away from employee type of roles towards freelance / solopreneurs type of "gigs".