Become a Successful Solo Entrepreneur

Every business type or business model comes with its own set of challenges. If you employ a team, you’ll face one set of challenges. If you’re by yourself or outsourcing, you’ll face a different set of challenges. In many ways, challenges are just part of the growth process – there’s no way around it.

As a fellow (occasionally lazy) entrepreneur, I understand the challenges that come with running a business on your own. I started out in the digital agency world back in the late 1990s. I guess you could say I was a 1st generation agency owner. Eventually, I’d brought help on board. It wasn’t easy, though. Finding the right people wasn’t easy back then and, in my opinion, it’s just as challenging today if not more so. 

Eventually, the “glitter” I associated with running an agency type of business wore off and  I decided to shift my focus to building my personal brand. Looking back, it was a long time in the making. I was the person they wanted to do business with anyway. So why keep fighting to promote the company name when the only name that mattered to the client was my own?

It wasn’t like I was planning to go public or anything like that. So that’s what I did. I refocused my efforts and it wasn’t long before I began to appreciate the benefits that came with building a personal brand. It’s not that I didn’t outsource from time to time when I needed to. It was simply a matter of not wanting to if I didn’t have to. Life (and business) was just so much easier keeping things simple.

Today, I wanted to share some thoughts on how to handle the occasional rollercoaster ride that comes with being a solo entrepreneur. I’ll also a few thoughts about how developing yourself personally can help you reach greater heights in this game. Sure, getting business advice is important, but it’s also essential to recognize the importance of growing as an individual. By doing so, you can become a better leader, make smarter choices, and strike a better work-life balance.

Marketing Strategies

As a solo entrepreneur, I’m sure you’re already aware of the part marketing plays in the success of your business. However, when faced with limited resources, it can be challenging to find the most effective strategies to reach your target audience. Here are some detailed marketing strategies that you can implement to promote your business and increase your revenue:

Building Your Online Presence

A strong online presence is crucial for your business. This is especially true when you’re just getting started or changing directions. After you’re established, you can cut all kinds of corners because you already have an established customer base. I’m not saying that you should cut corners, I’m just saying that it’s extra important that you don’t if you’re just getting started. Let’s start with your website. A professional-looking website will showcase your services, feature testimonials from satisfied clients, and provide a clear call to action to your visitors. Many times, your website is your first chance to leave a good impression. 

From there, you can begin setting up your social media accounts on the platforms that your target audience frequents. In a perfect world, your social presence will complement the information on the website. In reality, however, it usually doesn’t work that way. Most people seem to fall behind when it comes to keeping up with content creation and/or updates.

The result? Content grows stale. Traffic and engagement dwindle. By the way, this isn’t the exception, it’s the norm. It’s up to you to make sure that doesn’t happen. If you spread yourself too thin, that’s what happens.

By default, most marketers will encourage you to share valuable content, engage with your followers, and promote your services through various social networks. This has been standard advice for well over a decade now. Things, however, have changed for many marketers. Most report not getting the kind of returns on their time investment like they did in the past.

The enjoyment of being on these platforms isn’t what it used to be.

People don’t hang out on social media the way they used to for six hours a day or more.

Where does that leave us? It depends on your business and your audience. The general rule of thumb is, go wherever your customers are (even if they aren’t there as much). If they’re on Facebook, create a simple Facebook strategy. If they’re on YouTube, create content for them there. You can also try some of the newer platforms.

Yes, you can post your content just about everywhere, and some people do. But, that doesn’t replace engaging directly with others and that’s where the shortcuts and tactics tend to fall short.

Network with other entrepreneurs

Networking with other entrepreneurs, even if you’re an introvert at heart, is worth the effort. This can lead to valuable collaborations, referrals, and insights into industry trends you might otherwise be unaware of. In my opinion, networking should be an enjoyable investment in your time. Many enjoy attending industry conferences. Others prefer networking on a local basis where they can really get to know people. If you prefer, you can join online communities, and reach out to other entrepreneurs there. 

Meeting and connecting with others is another way to improve your work/life balance. It has benefitted me over the years in more ways than I can mention. Sometimes, just being in good company can be a game-changer for you. Great opportunities can come your way without you trying to force things or make things happen. 

Get comfortable with email marketing

Email marketing is still a powerful tool for connecting with others. I think it always will be. It’s one of the most straightforward ways to build relationships and keep in touch with your market. Communication is the key to any relationship, and that includes business relationships. More of this happens in the inbox than I think people realize.

Some people find it easier to create a simple newsletter to keep in touch with subscribers. That’s the category I fit into. I enjoy (at least most of the time) creating a monthly newsletter. I got away from it for years, and then last year I rediscovered it (you can check out the back issues at

The newsletter provides a platform for me to share some insights and tips with my subscribers. I’m not a big fan of daily emails or every other day emails in 2023. I don’t like being on the receiving end, so it’s a no-brainer not to be on the sending end either. 

Many marketers tend to follow a familiar pattern when structuring their email marketing campaigns. Typically, they start by offering a free resource to attract subscribers and then continue to send ongoing promotional offers. While this approach may be acceptable, it has become so common that people have become accustomed to it. As a result, they may develop ad-blindness and tune out subsequent follow-up offers.

Conversely, have you ever subscribed to a list, obtained a free resource, and then never heard from that person again? I have. I guess they weren’t comfortable communicating in the inbox.

Having a newsletter is sort of a happy medium. If you run an ad or two in the newsletter – it’s not a big deal. The purpose, however, is to provide value. I’ve heard some detractors say, “Who wants to sign up for another newsletter?” The answer is, “The people value your take on whatever topic you’re writing about.”

Experiment with paid advertising

Paid advertising can be costly, but it can also be an effective way to reach a larger audience faster. Consider running social media ads or Google AdWords campaigns to promote your business if your budget allows it. At the very least, you’ll learn how the ad systems work. You’re an entrepreneur so how can that be a bad thing, right? Use targeting options to ensure that your ads reach your desired audience, and track your results carefully.

I’m not a huge fan of paid advertising. I never have been. That said, I haven’t sworn paid ads off or anything like that. I just prefer the SEO-focused approach. With the right product, paid ads can work really well. All that to say – experiment with it for yourself and form your own opinions. Don’t rely solely on the experiences or opinions of others.

Nothing Beats Referrals 

Word-of-mouth referrals are one of the most effective ways to attract new clients. Most of my best clients come through referrals. 

You can encourage your current clients to refer their friends and family to your business by offering incentives such as discounts or free services. Also, you can set up a referral program that rewards clients for their referrals.

Many of my friends who’ve been in business for a long time admit that nothing built their businesses as referrals did. And when you think about it, if you’re getting referrals – you must be doing something right. Most call this, word-of-mouth marketing.

Word-of-mouth marketing can take many forms, including social media posts, customer reviews, personal referrals, and informal conversations between friends and family members. It is considered a highly effective marketing strategy because people are more likely to trust the opinions and experiences of others they know and respect, rather than advertising or other forms of paid promotion.

Managing Your Money

When it comes to money, most entrepreneurs see their income as a reflection of ability or success. It took time for me to realize this, but if you’ve been in business for a while, it’s most likely a reflection of your client or customer’s success. Let me explain. Let’s say you’ve been in business for several years and you know what you’re doing. You could be making 2-5 times as much doing the exact same work in the exact amount of time just by changing who you’re working with. If you switch to working with highly successful people in an industry where high markups are the norm, your income can multiply overnight.

If you work for people who have a little bit left over after paying their bills every month, your income will reflect that.

If you work with industries that have high markups and profit margins, they’ll probably pay most of you double what you’re currently charging and not blink an eye.

The key to getting in the door is to become the kind of business person who’s known for being reliable. If you do that, referrals will almost certainly come your way.

OK, let’s talk about managing your money. Most solo entrepreneurs are lousy at managing their money until they’re forced to do something about it. I was one of them, so I’m speaking from experience. If I wanted something I couldn’t afford, I’d usually buy it anyway. I told myself everything was an investment. The problem with credit is, you’re borrowing money from the future before the future gets here. When the future does arrive, the money disappears quickly from the present because you spent it foolishly in the past.

As a solo entrepreneur, it makes all the sense in the world to have a solid financial plan in place to ensure the success and longevity of your business. Why then do so very few actually have one? I think it has something to do with our internal wiring! As I said before, I went years without having one myself. Sure, I kept a mental note on things. I basically knew what was coming in and what was going out.

That’s not good enough. So many things could go wrong (and do) with that approach – we could write a few books on the topic.

No, you have to learn how to manage money just like you have to learn everything else in life.

1. Create a budget: Start by creating a budget that outlines your monthly expenses, including fixed expenses such as your mortgage, rent, and utilities, and variable expenses such as marketing and travel costs. Be realistic about your revenue projections, and adjust your budget as necessary to ensure that you’re not overspending.

3. Track your expenses: It’s crucial to track your expenses regularly. Make sure you’re staying within your budget. Use accounting software or a spreadsheet to keep track of your expenses, and review them regularly to identify areas where you can cut costs.

4. Separate business and personal expenses: Keeping your business and personal expenses separate is essential for accurate accounting and tax purposes. Open a separate bank account and credit card for your business, and use them exclusively for business expenses.

5. Save for taxes: As a solo entrepreneur, you’re responsible for paying both income and self-employment taxes. To avoid getting caught off guard at tax time, set aside a portion of your income each month to cover your tax obligations.

6. Negotiate with vendors: When purchasing supplies or services for your business, don’t be afraid to negotiate with vendors to get the best possible price. Look for opportunities to buy in bulk, and consider alternative suppliers that may offer better pricing.

7. Limit unnecessary expenses: As a solo entrepreneur, it’s easy to fall into the trap of overspending on unnecessary expenses. Be mindful of your spending, and limit expenses that aren’t critical to the success of your business.

Budgeting is a crucial part of running a successful solo entrepreneurship business. By creating a budget, tracking your expenses, separating business and personal expenses, saving for taxes, negotiating with vendors, and limiting unnecessary expenses, you can manage your finances effectively and set your business up for long-term success.

Time Management Challenges

As a solo entrepreneur, how you manage your time has a ripple effect on everything else you do. For example, what happens when a one-week project turns into a four-week project? Or, you have several projects you’re more or less working on at the same time, but you haven’t completed anything yet.

Sound familiar? Ultimately, I think our outer world is a reflection of our inner one. Being organized didn’t come naturally to me. That didn’t happen until I realized what it was costing me to be disorganized.

From there, it was all step-by-step, trial and error – figuring out how to make incremental improvements.

Occasionally, I’d find an app that would help me. But even then, it wasn’t a complete solution.

Let’s take a quick look at some of the standard advice, most of which you’re probably already at least somewhat familiar with.

Prioritize your tasks

Many times the things you want to do aren’t actually the things you should do when you look at the big picture. For example, you spend a whole week agonizing over your brand’s color palette while your mailbox is filling up with past-due notices. That’s probably a good sign you need to reexamine the priorities in your life and business.

Create schedules 

Consider creating a schedule that outlines your workday, including time for tasks, breaks, and personal activities. That sounds good on paper. And maybe I’m an outlier on this one, but, who wants to live that way? Sure, a schedule is fine. Necessary, even. But, having a rigid schedule each and every day that you live and die by? No thanks. A little bit of freedom goes a long way. I’ll pass on the ball-and-chain schedule. At the end of the day, I was able to choose the work and schedule that worked best for me over the long term. You’ll probably have to do the same.

Use time-blocking 

Time-blocking involves scheduling specific blocks of time for specific tasks. For example, you might schedule an hour in the morning to respond to emails or two hours in the afternoon to work on a specific project. This approach works for me about 60% of the time. What happens the other 40%? I’m too embarrassed to write about it.  

Delegate tasks

As a solo entrepreneur, you may be tempted to do everything yourself. Especially if you’re undercharging for your products and services. Paying anyone (other than yourself) can hurt more than it helps if you’re undercharging.  That said, AI is rapidly changing the game – regardless of what you’re charging. In my own business, AI has as much value as having a personal assistant on hand. That says a lot. AI can be used to make whatever you’re doing much easier. Check it out for yourself.

Take breaks

Taking breaks throughout the day can help you stay focused and avoid burnout. Schedule regular breaks throughout your day to recharge your batteries and clear your mind. I’ve even taken short naps here and there from time to time.

Avoid multitasking 

I remember a time when multitasking was thought to be the new normal. While it may seem like multitasking is an efficient use of time, the experts now agree that it can actually lead to decreased productivity and increased stress. It’s better to focus on one task at a time to ensure that you’re giving it your full attention and getting it done efficiently.

Most of the time management advice seems like common sense. I would say that setting priorities helps me in a practical sense more than anything else. I’ve tried the software, and I’ve tried various methods – but nothing works better for me than learning how to prioritize things more effectively.

Thoughts on Personal Development

Let me conclude with a few thoughts about personal development, learning new skills, and becoming a wiser, better-equipped leader in your field. As a solo business owner, you’re going to acquire leadership skills over time. These skills will help you navigate the change you’ll experience as you navigate the business world over the years.

I started my journey in my late teens. My life changed in my mid-twenties. In retrospect, I can see that, for better or worse, who you are (your character) ultimately affects everything you do. In my teenage years, a lack of self-discipline opened the door to problems I wouldn’t have otherwise had.

When the going got tough, I searched for the nearest exit. Let me be blunt about this – sometimes it “feels like” change is impossible. But those are just your emotions speaking. When it comes to developing as a person, progress may be slow but any progress is better than no progress at all. You can keep it simple by setting a goal or two for yourself and your business.

Learning new skills can boost your confidence and help you stay competitive in your field. For instance, you can learn social media marketing by taking an online course or you can attend a workshop on financial management to help with budgeting. Another example is to learn how to create videos to promote your business on YouTube or other social media platforms. As one person said, “They can take your money, they can take your possessions, but they can’t take your skills!”


It’s important to remember that building a successful business takes time, dedication, and work. Some would call it “hard work,” but I never really saw it that way. When you’re pursuing a goal, dream, or vision for your life, each step feels like another step closer. When something doesn’t work the way you thought it would, you regroup and try again.

This is much different than, let’s say – working at a dead-end job that you hate. Both could be seen as work, but one provides you with an open-ended future where the other one doesn’t.

Remember it’s important to stay focused, stay organized, and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Believe me, I know firsthand what it’s like to be unfocused and unorganized. It’s not fun, let’s put it that way. It’s like misplacing your keys and wallet several times a week because you’re too lazy to have a simple system in place. Don’t let a lack of organization ruin your business!

With the right mindset and a few decent systems and strategies, you can achieve success in the online business world. So go out there, do the work, and enjoy your journey. I’ve been doing this since the late 1990s, and I still enjoy it today. I’m genuinely thankful to God for my online business success.

Picture of Jim Galiano

Jim Galiano

Jim Galiano is an Internet consultant, web developer, author and podcaster who started doing business online in 1998. His consulting, marketing and publicity services have been used worldwide since 2002. Jim has been interviewed by a variety of media sources including the Wall Street Journal and CBS News in New York.

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About Jim

Jim Galiano is an Internet consultant, web developer, author and podcaster who started doing business online in 1998. His consulting, marketing and publicity services have been used worldwide since 2002.

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