LC007: How do you scale a startup as a one-person show?

launchpeer - June 6, 2018

Today’s question:

Today’s question comes from Shawn and deals with scaling as a solopreneur. Specifically, how do you scale when you’re on your own and have a full-time day job?

Jake’s answer:

When I started Launchpeer, I was also employed full-time. So, I understand where you’e coming from.

One thing I did instead of just quitting my day job was to work with my employer to start my own company. The worked because the customers I was going after were not the same kinds of customers we served in my day job.

Here are few other tips:

1. Pick a number

Figure out what amount of money it will take for you to go full-time with your new company. It’s hard to hit a goal that’s not written down. Right down what that number is and work your ass off to get to it.

2. Treat your side business as if it were your full-time job

It’s easy to get lulled into a sort of complacency, when you’re bills are being paid by the day job. But it’s going to take a lot of work to grow you business, and by treating it as your entire livelihood (even if it’s not), will create a sense of urgency that will help you stay motivated and moving forward.

3. Start experimenting with marketing, leads, etc.

You have to spend money to make money. I made the mistake early on of justing hoping customers would show up. But they don’t. You have to spend money to get the clients you need that will eventually replace your day job income.

4. Automate as much as possible.

The more systems you can create right from the beginning, the easier it’s going to be to make this transition.

A super practical example is using tools and/or apps that can help with this. For example, Calendly is a great tool that lets your customers schedule a time on your calendar. It completely removes the back and forth time of trying to schedule meetings. It really helped us a lot in the beginning.

5. Set clear expectations

You’re customers will adapt to whatever expectations you set. If you make yourself available on the weekends or give them your cell phone number, they will assume it’s ok to expect you to work on the weekends or call you anytime.

We use Slack as our main communication tool. This also helps because I can turn it off at the end of the day and walk away. And our customers know these boundaries, because we were careful to set them in the very beginning.

6. Grow, grow, grow

A lot of founders make the mistake of thinking customers will just come to them. Don’t do this. Focus on growth and make it a huge priority. This will help you get to your “number” and bring you that much closer to transitioning into your new business full time.

You may want to check out my interview on Mixegry with Andrew Warner. We talked a lot about these exact issues.

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