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Solopreneurs might be a good target market for your business
Instead of writing about tactics and methods this week, I’d like to suggest a market segment you might want to take a look at. It’s a big market comprised of small companies, one-man-shows to be precise.
Solopreneurs (or solos) are independent workers. Some are freelancers, some are consultants, artists, writers, creatives, product sellers, even software and app designers. According to the MBO Partners State of Independence in America Study, the number of independent workers in the US has risen by 12% since 2010. Currently, there are 31.2 million solos in the US, who generate $1.15 trillion in revenue. That’s roughly 7% of US GDP.
More interesting stats about the market segment:
- 30% are millennials, but solopreneurs come in all age brackets.
- 17.8 million work in their solo careers full-time.
- 2.9 million earned more than $100,000 last year.
- Solos live everywhere: 40% in cities, 30% in suburbs, 30% in rural areas.
While some solopreneurs intend to continue operating as one-man-shows, others add employees and grow into larger businesses. The MBO research estimates that 50% of small businesses started as solo enterprises.
The idea of landing a large, new account is admittedly much more appealing than chasing after a bunch of small businesses, but there are some compelling reasons to consider solos as a target. Here are a few:
- Many are local small businesses, who may prefer to support other local small businesses.
- Marketing is critical to the success of their efforts, and many need help. Print will fit into their marketing plans, and many will appreciate your ability to design and execute.
- New business risk is offset by growth potential. Mind the credit wisely and perhaps you may get in on the ground floor with a successful new company.
With the exodus of large firms to metro areas, solos may be an especially good target in rural and small markets. Lifestyle considerations are important to this group. Many operate virtual companies, so becoming a part of a smaller community could actually be a preference.
How do you find ‘em?
Many solos work from home or sporadically from a small office. They’re not going to be easy to find by wearing out shoe leather. Growing a community of solopreneur clients will take some patience and some creativity. Here are a few ideas:
- Work with SBA and other local business organizations. Sponsor training sessions that are valuable for micro-businesses. (As an example, our local arts association conducts business and marketing seminars for artists and creatives).
- Network and ask. Find out who your business connections are using for freelance writing and design work. Look for independent consultants at networking events.
- Look for business incubators – organizations and places where shared space is offered. Makerspaces are a natural location for budding solopreneurs.
- Use social media to make contact. Connect with new leads via LinkedIn and ask about their business – offer to help as opportunities arise. Try to identify online communities where solos congregate. Targeted Facebook ads might also be worth a try.
The Message for Solos
Printers can offer an appealing message to solopreneurs – the availability of support. There’s no back office in a one man or one woman show, and your ability to provide a turnkey solution will be appreciated.
You may also want to look for collaborative opportunities and stress your willingness to partner on projects (especially with the creatives). Solos generally collaborate with others for projects beyond their scope, and you may actually discover opportunities for new business that you’d never considered before.
Maybe this idea doesn’t exactly fit your business. If you’re a large printer, you probably don’t want to fool with the little orders. If you’re set up to manage smaller projects and eager to assist small businesses, focusing on solopreneurs might be an idea worth consideration.