How Solopreneurs Can Compete With Big Players

by Lois Leonard

4 min read

If you’ve ever lost a bid to a competing business that’s larger than you, you know the frustration that many solopreneurs face. When you’re a one-person operation working out of your home, it’s sometimes daunting to go up against the big players in your industry. But you shouldn’t feel as though your size directly affects your ability to provide quality products or services or attract top-tier clientele. In fact, even the smallest business operating out of a single room can compete with corporations. Here’s how.

Invest in a Fast, Well-Designed Website

If your site takes more than three seconds to load, 40 percent of website visitors will leave. That’s why a well-functioning site is essential for capturing people’s attention and getting them to stay on your site. You can speed up your site by eliminating “heavy” content like videos or images that take a while to load, as well as splitting pages with a lot of content into multiple pages.

While you’re at it, invest in a fresh and responsive web design. This ensures that, no matter what device someone visits your site from, the content and layout render properly, and navigation is simple. Put effort into a design that’s appealing and easy to navigate. Fortunately, price is no longer a barrier to getting a top-notch design. Look to WordPress customizable themes as an affordable or even free place to start.

Beyond the design, you can increase the perceived value of your brand by talking about the benefits — rather than just the features — of your products and including glowing customer testimonials.

Not only will a professional-looking website help turn visitors into customers, but it can also bring visitors there in the first place. By including content that’s relevant to your audience and strategically using keywords, you can rank better in search results and help more people find you.

Use a Professional URL

One of the first turnoffs a potential customer may see on your existing site is the fact that you use a free domain like mysite.wordpress.com. Buying a professional URL is extremely affordable these days, at around $10 a year, and with web hosting starting at $4 a month, the expense is a small price to pay to boost your credibility and professionalism to potential customers.

Another easy option is to transition away from using your Gmail or Yahoo email address and replace it with an email address using your domain. You can use Google Apps with your custom domain, and get access to email, calendar, and word processing tools for $5 a month.

Invest in a Professional Logo

Your logo, like your website, is something you don’t want to skimp on, especially if you’re trying to come off as professional and successful in your business. After all, 92 percent of people say that visuals are the most influential factor affecting a purchase decision. When you have just seconds to capture the attention of website visitors, you want to ensure that the logo they see is visually appealing.

Rather than DIYing your logo (unless you’re a professional designer), try using a site like 99designs to crowdsource logo ideas for around $300, or find a freelance designer to help you on a site like Fiverr.

Hold Meetings in Professional Settings

Working out of your home can present a problem when it’s time to meet clients. You don’t want them tripping over your kids’ toys or visiting your closet/office to discuss a project. A better option is to meet over coffee if it’s casual, or rent co-working office space to get a professional meeting room for the day.

There’s also Skype, of course, but make sure the barking dogs and children are tucked quietly away. You don’t want anything to detract from your message.

Talk in Terms of “We”

As long as you have the idea that you will always be the extent of your business, you limit your own growth. But if you plan to grow and hire staff or even a few contractors, you have to shift to “we” thinking. That includes how you talk to clients. When you frame your conversation as “we can help” rather than “I can help,” you open yourself up to being able to bring on others in your company, even if you don’t yet have employees or contractors onboard. The challenge with promising to do everything yourself is that, eventually, you will reach a saturation point. Hiring others can help you take on more work and grow more rapidly.

Your success depends a lot on your attitude. If you act like you run a slightly bigger, more successful company, you can step closer to making it a reality. Until then, you can attract customers who feel drawn to your positive, professional demeanor.

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