A woman runs a business and uses a laptop to set product pricing
Running a business

How to run a business: 16 solopreneur tips for 2024

Starting your entrepreneurship journey and learning how to run a business requires passion, strategy, and boldness. This is why becoming skilled in business management becomes essential for growing a successful business. 

Whether you’re an experienced small business owner looking to refine your approach or a solopreneur or aspiring freelancer ready to dive in headfirst, understanding how to run a business successfully helps you navigate the challenges of the small business world. 

From creating a business plan to tracking expenses, discover our top 16 tips for running a small business, enriched with insights from solopreneurs who have built their businesses from the ground up. 

  1. Craft a business plan
  2. Understand your market
  3. Watch your competition
  4. Build a strong brand
  5. Develop a marketing strategy
  6. Adapt to change
  7. Keep accurate records
  8. Embrace technology
  9. Focus on your customers
  10. Outsource tasks
  11. Set attainable goals
  12. Cultivate leadership skills
  13. Choose the right pricing
  14. Manage your time effectively
  15. Keep learning
  16. Celebrate achievements
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1. Craft a business plan

If you haven’t already created one or if your current plan needs improvement, developing a comprehensive business plan is like building a road map to success. 

Create a business plan that outlines: 

  • Mission statement: Explain why your business exists and what inspired its creation.
  • Target audience: Identifying your ideal customer and their demographic, details like location, income, and age. 
  • Unique value proposition: Highlight the benefits and advantages your product or service brings to your target audience. 
  • Marketing strategies: Describe how you intend to attract customers and drive growth. 
  • Financial projections: Present your financial plan, including income statements, profit and loss statements, cash flow statements, and balance sheets. 

A well-crafted business plan clarifies your vision and helps guide your decisions. Additionally, it attracts potential investors and partners who recognize your growth potential.

If you’d rather not start from scratch, you can download our free business plan template to guide you through the process.

2. Understand your market

You need a deep understanding of your target market to run a successful business. This knowledge enables you to tailor your product or service and marketing strategy to address your audience’s needs.

Thorough market research is vital for identifying customer needs, preferences, and pain points. Analyzing demographics and behaviors helps you fine-tune your offerings. Additionally, you’ll want to understand the demand for your product and how it changes over time.  

You can conduct market research through: 

  • Surveys: Send surveys to potential customers asking about their preferred services and strategies. 
  • Interviews: Engage people in conversations about their buying habits and preferences. 
  • Focus groups: Create small focus groups with people that fit your customer profile and gather feedback from them. 
  • Existing customers: Utilize data from your current customers to identify patterns and challenges you can address. 

Remember, customer preferences may change, requiring regular data evaluation and, if needed, additional market research to ensure your business remains aligned with your customers.

3. Watch your competition

If you want to learn how to run a business, you need to look at how others are running their business—and by others, we mean your competition. Studying your competition is a good way to understand what strategies you can also apply to your business. 

Analyze your competitors by monitoring their strategies, products, and customer reviews to identify gaps and strengths in your market. Then refine your approach based on your findings. One of the most common ways to do that is through a competitive analysis

Here’s how to do a competitive analysis:

  1. Identify your competitors, both direct and indirect. 
  2. Review their product and service offerings.
  3. Evaluate their website or social media traffic and user experience.
  4. Assess their strengths and weaknesses.
  5. Understand their content strategy.
  6. Analyze their pricing strategy.
  7. Perform a SWOT analysis.

Upon completing your competitive analysis, apply your findings by updating your offerings, revisiting your pricing, and adapting your content strategy.

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One of the biggest advantages of being a solopreneur or small business owner is you can move fast and experiment in ways that larger competitors can't keep up with. Do whatever it takes to keep that advantage.
Matt Benn, founder of Soundplate

4. Build a strong brand

A strong brand builds an emotional connection between your business and customers. This connection encourages repeat purchases and recommendations to others. 

A lot goes into building a strong brand, but consistent branding is a key step to building a connection with your customers. Build a strong brand by: 

  • Conducting market research: Understand your customer’s personalities, how they talk, what they talk about, and how they respond to different brands. 
  • Establishing a brand positioning: Identify what your brand stands for and what unique value you’ll offer to customers. 
  • Defining your brand personality: Describe how you want customers to see you and identify your voice and tone. 
  • Create a brand story: Write a brand story that describes how you started and what motivates you to run a business. 
  • Design the look of your brand: Build a branding deck that includes your fonts, colors, logo, and design elements. 

Once you solidify your brand’s identity, apply it across all aspects of your business, including your website, social media, and packaging. Keep your branding consistent even through your customer service so customers will know who you are and what you stand for.

5. Develop a marketing strategy

A well-crafted marketing strategy is crucial for reaching and engaging your target audience while attracting new customers. This strategy serves as a blueprint for converting an audience into loyal customers.

A list of marketing strategies to consider when running a business.

There’s no one-size-fits-all marketing plan—your approach will depend on your business's goals, products, and services. However, consider these strategies:

  • Email marketing: Engage with your customers through email campaigns promoting your products and services.
  • Social media marketing: Collaborate with influencers and other businesses to promote your product or service to their audience. 
  • Search engine marketing: Increase website traffic by paying for your business to appear in search results.
  • Paid advertising: Advertise your business through social media ads and other online platforms. 
  • Content marketing: Boost brand awareness by offering valuable content, such as comprehensive guides or video tutorials. 
  • Search engine optimization: Optimize your website to rank for specific keywords in organic search results.

There are many strategies you can use to market your business to potential customers. Ensure the strategy aligns with your business's goals so you can focus your efforts on the right marketing strategies for your business.

6. Adapt to change

Industries are always changing, impacting how you run your business. Successful business owners are quick-moving and open to new strategies to adapt to change. Staying up to date with the trends in your industry and staying prepared for unexpected shifts is key to running a successful business. 

Some ways to stay prepared include: 

  • Monitoring your target market’s online interactions and adapting to shifts in their shopping behavior. 
  • Encouraging innovation within your business and fostering a team aligned with emerging trends. 
  • Staying updated with industry publications, attending conferences, and participating in webinars. 

Above all, actively seek your customer's feedback and don’t be afraid to ask them how you can improve. This will help you quickly adapt to change and develop strategies that align with your market.

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I always recommend being a member of a local business forum or community. Networking is a key to success, especially for solopreneurs. Connecting with like-minded individuals can provide the support and insights needed to navigate the unique challenges of running a business alone.
Phil Vam, owner of Microstartups.org

7. Keep accurate records

Running a business successfully requires making informed decisions—and most times, you won’t have much time to prepare. Precise record-keeping ensures you make the right decisions that align with your financial goals. 

Keep accurate financial records, inventory data, and customer insights to help you manage your cash flow and identify trends when it comes time to grow and reinvest in your business. 

Some ways to maintain accurate records include: 

  • Investing in software to help you keep track of income, expenses, and profits. 
  • Considering hiring an accountant or bookkeeper to help you with record-keeping.
  • Creating a checklist to ensure your records are up-to-date and organized.
  • Building spreadsheets to track internal data. 

There’s a lot to keep track of when it comes to maintaining accurate records, from payroll to inventory analysis, to business expenses. Fortunately, various tools simplify record-keeping, such as all-in-one software like QuickBooks, which automates income and expense tracking, employee payments, and inventory management.

With QuickBooks, payroll and bookkeeping work hand-in-hand.

8. Embrace technology

Technology is ever-changing, and although it may be hard to keep up with it, you should embrace it. Technology enhances efficiency and customer experience, and investing in the right tools can help you automate processes and increase productivity. 

Staying up-to-date with technological advancements and brainstorming innovative ways to use technology can improve your business and customer experience. Consider automating tasks using technology, such as:

  • Accounting software.
  • Project management tools.
  • Customer relationship management (CRM) systems.
  • E-commerce integrations.

Before adopting a technology solution, consider the costs of purchasing and running these tools and whether they are cost-efficient for your business.

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I have attended a variety of events, read unrelated books, or tried out new tools. By intentionally encouraging serendipity, you infuse your business with a constant flow of innovation, making it a magnet for new opportunities and maintaining your market edge.
Ryan Faber, founder of Copymatic

9. Focus on your customers

As a small business owner, nurturing a loyal customer base is likely a dream—loyal customers make repeat purchases, engage with your brand, and recommend you to others. The secret to attracting loyal customers lies in your level of care for them. 

A big chunk of your business strategy should revolve around your customers, as how you treat them directly impacts how they feel about your brand. You can focus on your customers in many ways: 

  • Provide excellent service: Consider providing free shipping and simplifying returns and exchanges. 
  • Offer top-notch customer service: Ensure great customer service to guide customers and make it easy for them to reach out to you. 
  • Listen to feedback: Connect with your customers and read product reviews to identify areas for improvement. 
  • Adapt to customer needs: Understand customers’ desires and expectations, then align your business accordingly. 
  • Focus on the buyer journey: Analyze each stage of the buyer journey to pinpoint issues and provide solutions. 

Focusing on your customers impacts their perception of your brand and increases their chances of buying from you again. After all—the customer is always right.

10. Outsource tasks

We get it—sometimes you want to do everything yourself. But trying to do everything yourself may not be the most effective use of your time—especially if you have the resources to ask for help. 

Outsourcing noncore tasks frees you to focus on strategic decisions and crucial parts of your business. Consider hiring freelancers or small agencies to handle tasks like content creation, bookkeeping and social media management.

Alternatively, explore automation possibilities using specific tools or software while hiring an assistant to manage the updates. 

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I realized I can't be an expert at everything. Hiring freelancers for specific tasks was a game-changer. This allowed me to focus on what I'm really good at and ensure other aspects of my business received expert attention.
Alec Rose, Founder of Golfible

11. Set attainable goals

You may have some goals in mind when running your business—whether it’s making the 100th sale or getting featured in a news article. Setting clear, attainable goals helps you track your progress and boosts your motivation.

An explanation of the SMART method of setting goals.

Consider establishing both short-term and long-term goals using the SMART method:

  • Specific: Detail what the goal entails and the necessary steps to achieve it. 
  • Measurable: Quantify your goals so you can track their progress. 
  • Achievable: Ensure they are realistic and something you can accomplish. 
  • Relevant: Identify why you’re setting this goal and what it impacts. 
  • Time-based: Decide when you will achieve this goal. 

After you set your business goals, record them and measure your progress monthly or quarterly to ensure you’re on track. 

12. Cultivate leadership skills

Running a business doesn’t automatically make you a natural leader. While some people may possess innate leadership qualities, others need to develop these skills. 

Whether you’re a solopreneur or have a small team, becoming an inspiring leader is vital for motivating people, making sales, and improving efficiency. Study leadership principles and nurture your abilities to inspire your team and foster positive work. 

Effective leaders welcome feedback, encourage collaboration, and offer growth opportunities.

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Be your own leader. Not every day will be filled with fan mail or soaring sales. There will be critics, naysayers, and slow days. That's why you need to be your strongest advocate.
Niklas Göke, founder and CEO of Four Minute Books.

13. Choose the right pricing

Setting the right pricing for your products or services is crucial for maximizing profits and attracting customers. Pricing influences both your profitability and perceived value, so choosing a pricing strategy that aligns with your goals and business is crucial. 

Different pricing strategies include: 

  • Cost-plus pricing: Mark up the prices with a fixed percentage. 
  • Competitive pricing: Match or beat your competitor’s pricing. 
  • Price skimming: Set rates high during the initial phase, then gradually lower them. 
  • Penetration pricing: Offer lower prices on goods and services than competitors. 
  • Value-based pricing: Set prices based on your customer’s perceived value of your product or service. 

Before settling on a pricing strategy, consider your production costs, competition, and customer willingness to pay. Your pricing approach can evolve, so staying informed about the market’s changes is vital.

14. Manage your time effectively

Time management is important, especially when you’re running a business. Balancing multiple tasks and responsibilities requires efficient time management to optimize your efforts and drive real value to your business. 

A list of tips for managing time effectively when running a business

Some ways to manage your time effectively include: 

  • Creating a to-do list: Start each day with a list of tasks you need to accomplish. Break down larger projects into smaller tasks. 
  • Blocking your time: Allocate specific hours for different tasks to ensure you focus your time on each activity. 
  • Auditing your time: Track how you spend your time to identify time-wasting activities and areas of improvement. 
  • Setting deadlines: Stay accountable and avoid procrastinating with self-imposed deadlines 
  • Using the Pomodoro technique: Work in focused intervals followed by a short break. 

Effective time management also includes setting aside time for activities, hobbies, events, and family to maintain personal well-being, keep you motivated and prevent burnout. 

15. Keep learning

Everything constantly evolves—markets, technology, customers, and your business. Staying curious is the best way to keep up with the trend shifts.

Continue learning about industry trends, new technologies, and management strategies—the options are endless. Stay curious and have a learning mindset so you can run a successful and adaptable business. 

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I recommend a T-learning approach to get deep learning in one department (Like selling or deliverability) and also a little bit of knowledge of other departments (Like accounting, billing, marketing campaigns, etc.). In this dynamic business world, it’s always better to be a jack of all trades, master of one.
Stefan Campbell, owner of The Small Business Blog

16. Celebrate achievements

You’re running a successful business, attracting loyal customers, and pursuing your passion—you have bragging rights. 

Running a business requires hard work, determination, and flexibility, so you deserve to celebrate your achievements. Whether you made your first sale or launched a new product, take time to celebrate. Recognizing your milestones and success, no matter how small, boosts morale and motivation. 

Run your business with confidence

Mastering how to run a business is both an art and a science, but with these tips and strategies, you’ll set yourself up for success. Remember, a successful solopreneur or small business owner is dedicated to growth and seeks innovative ways to run a business. 

As you embark on this adventure, consider leveraging technology to streamline and automate your operations and business management. A comprehensive accounting software, like QuickBooks, simplifies financial management, expense tracking, and record-keeping. This way, you can focus on your core business activities while maintaining a clear overview of your finances.

Feel confident from day one

You're never too small, and it's never too soon to know you're on track for success.

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