6 Market Shifts

by Barbara Saunders

Have You Made the Shift?

In this week’s Solo Pro CEO call, I talked about shifting your mindset. I mentioned the Global Shifts in how business is done over this last decade.

I’ve talked publicly on this subject, but I don’t think I’ve  done an article on it – Now seems like a good time.

Understanding these SIX Market Shifts will make a DRASTIC change in how you do business as a solo pro!

The old corporate business model

Envision the typical corporation – tons of little cubicles where people come every day and do the same tasks over and over. They are NOT paid the think. Their customers are just numbers to add up. Their only thought is chasing the ever-shrinking ‘benefit’ package and hoping their 401K is still there when they leave the treadmill.

Not a pretty thought is it?

People can’t work like that for long. Add to that the fact that the CEOs at the top of the pile increasingly want a bigger share of the pie. This led corporations to move to the ‘Contingent Work Force’ model in the 1990s – hiring professionals for project-based work rather than hiring permanent workers. This is why simply ‘polishing up the old resume and looking for a new job’ doesn’t work when you’re laid off. Those jobs are gone.

That’s a pretty grim picture – and it may seem a little extreme – but it’s pretty accurate. The pendulum swings back

Understanding the big corporate collapse makes it clear why this is the BEST time to be a solo pro! It also gives you a great frame work to build your solo pro business.

Shift #1 | Power in the Passion
The people who rise to the top in their fields not only tend to be the experts, but they also tend to LOVE what they do. There’s authenticity and credibility when someone is passionate about what they do. As opposed to the poor corporate person that’s just dragging to work to get a pay check. Passionate people have a special energy and enthusiasm about what they do.

People with passion congregate with others that share their passion. Trekkies go to Star Trek Conventions. Dog lovers go to dog shows. Football fans flock to sports bars. There’s almost no end to how people congregate today. With 93% of the globe able to access the internet, it’s not unusual to have people from many nations joining in on Twitter streams or visiting on FaceBook pages. The access today is mind boggling.

In the old corporate setting, this ‘congregation’ privilege rested only with the few elite group of influential or wealthy businessmen who held the information for themselves. They offered limited access and clients had to pay large sums for their time or contacts. Today, the web makes those conversations available to everyone. The powerful people are the ones engaging in the conversations. The more dynamic and collaborative the conversation – the more power. Those holding onto the old model of withholding information and excluding others, risks falling farther and farther behind. The shift is towards contributing and being an active engaging member of your community  – your Tribe.

Shift strategy for the solo pro business:
   * Get very clear on your unique strengths and talents – what you offer
    * Build your business firmly around your passion; bring your skills to bear in a way that melds them with your passion
    * Reach out to others with the same passion or who are in the same community and share your knowledge and expertise
    * Forget working on your weaknesses! Go with your strengths – structuring your business around your own unique traits will help you build a profitable income-generating machine

Shift #2 | Zero in on Your Niche
Mass marketing is pretty much over. Trying to make one size fit all doesn’t work. Today the smart solo pro stands apart by being different and meeting individual unmet needs. The buying public is increasingly well educated and particular. They’re more interested in relevance and customization.

Shift strategy for the solo pro business:
    * Tap into unmet needs of your ideal client
    * Make your products or services relevant, convenient, fun, or custom or personalized in some way
    * Strengthen an already good concept by giving it a cultural twist or customizing it to industry

Shift #3 | Small & Nimble
Powerful new technology has made it possible for solo pros to compete on a level playing field with the big boys – and win – because of their our overhead. You can run a one-person publishing empire now.  With tools like the internet, teleconferencing, webcams and more, a solo pro can have global reach at a very affordable price. This makes it extremely easy to create many revenue streams. Also extremely expensive advertising is now nearly free. Today consumers are abandoning large well-established brands to work with smaller organizations that offer something special.

Shift strategy for the solo pro business:

    * Leverage the income streams that work best for you
    * Develop your business model to support those income streams
    * Integrate your income streams to flesh out your revenue capacity

Shift #4 | It’s a Small World After All
The internet – especially Google – gives us access to the world. Old-school marketing tactics were aggressive, interruption-based push tactics. People are saturated and not listening anymore. They’ve put up barriers to stop the interruptions and annoying sales calls. Solo pros that deliver well-thought-out solutions that are easy to use rise to the top by standing apart. One of the most effective methods – outside of search engine optimization – is through reviews and recommendations from their community or tribe.

Shift strategy for the solo pro business:

    * Fine offerings and package them for convenience
    * Solicit reviews from members of your community and ideal clients
    * Aim for ease of use, lack of clutter, and stress reduction

Shift #5 | Don’t Push. Pull
Trust is a more important factor in today’s market than big sales campaigns. Aggressive, loud and hype-drive ad campaigns are being tuned out. Consumers today are more influenced by relevant content and are seeking trust and credibility. Content-driven business structures today are able to do far stable than other types. The challenge for the solo pro is to learn how to harness today’s technology to make use of their own knowledge and expertise.

Bringing a personal touch to content and delivering it to an engaged community is one of the most powerful ways to grow a profitable business because it pulls people in and helps them gain confidence in the offering. Being a helpful expert and resource is the first place to start. The more content you produce – articles, websites, podcasts, videos – the more credible you become.

Shift strategy for the solo pro business:

    * Leverage your knowledge and expertise in ways that show case your unique personality
    * Always aim for the highest level of professional output that you can afford
    * Concentrate on developing high-quality content

Shift #6 | Stay Open to Change
In the old-school business model, things were always done a certain way. Customers have become savvy to the tricks that large companies pay and don’t like to play along anymore. Solo pros that remain nimble and are willing to try new ideas quickly outpace their larger competitors. Goals are more important than ever because things happen very quickly. If you’re off course, you will get into trouble much quicker. Understanding the previous market shifts will help steer your business more accurately, but it is vital to be plugged in to be aware of current trends.

Shift strategy for the solo pro business:
    * Make friends with technology
    * Don’t be afraid to try new things
    * Be sure to know where you’re trying to go and what you’re trying to accomplish
    * Track your progress
    * Monitor current trends

Author Info: Barbara Saunders is a publication designer and has run a successful solo pro business for more than a decade. She is the Director of the International Association of Self-Employed Communication Professionals and the Solo Pro Academy. It's our mission to build community and help creative solo pros build and run successful businesses by providing support, innovation, tools, and strategies. Our goal is to liberate our members from the feast and famine cycle.

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