What do you get when you put an accountant; Chinese medicine practitioner; relationship counsellor; fashion distributor; and a copywriter in a room? A wealth of experience and shared challenges in running a successful small business. Welcome to Flying Solo LIVE 2018!

The day was packed with tremendous content that I look forward to sharing with you in more detail. But to get started, here are my initial lessons from the day. 

As the first session started, I looked around the auditorium and saw a room of people just like me. A room of solo business owners – but we were not alone. Over the course of the day we shared experiences, frustrations and challenges. Being a sole business owner can sometimes be lonely. But it doesn’t need to be.

Lesson 1: Flying solo doesn’t mean flying alone  

In the first keynote we heard from Catherine Cervasio, founder of Aromababy. What an interesting journey. One of Catherine’s points that really resonated with me was the need to be focussed. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by everything you aren’t doing (yet). Get strategic and prioritise. This can be particularly challenging if you tend to be more creative. But being creative doesn’t need to come at the cost of being strategic.  

Lesson 2: Focus is key

The audience questions during the digital marketing essentials session seemed to have a common theme. Why isn’t my keyword research working? My website is ranking but why aren’t customers engaging? The panel shared some useful tools to help navigate the minefield of keyword research including Google Ads, Screaming Frog and Moz. If you are struggling in this area, make sure you have clarity about the goal of optimising your chosen keywords. If the goal is conversion, then you should consider long tail keywords likely to be used by people ready to purchase your product or service. For example, a person searching for “camping and hiking” is likely to have a general interest in the topic but a person searching for “best women’s hiking boots for backpacking in New Zealand”… well, you be the judge which person is more ready to make a purchase.

Lesson 3:  The long tail prevails

The panel discussion about dream clients covered challenges in finding customers and how it’s much easier for your customers to find you. Be active and be visible. We know customers are more likely to buy from someone they know, like and trust. This probably won’t be a quick win; trust takes time to establish. So get started. What channels does your target audience use? Focus on those channels and become a visible (and valuable) presence.

Lesson 4: Let’s get visible, visible

Before attending Flying Solo LIVE 2018 I took pride in my time management skills. Those days are behind me. Kate Christie, founder of Time Stylers, spoke about the notion of time investment rather than time management. Start thinking about your time the same way you think about money. Be aware and purposeful with how you use your time. Don’t just be busy – be effective.  

Lesson 5: Stop wearing busyness as a badge of honour

A major theme for the closing sessions was the importance of embracing change. It is easy to dismiss technologies as irrelevant or a fad. But irrelevant to who? You or your potential customers? We heard that by 2030, two out of every three dollars of income generated within Australia will be earned by a Millenial. Can your business thrive without engaging the technologies favoured by consumers?

Lesson 6: Become an early adopter of whatever comes next

Today I heard first-hand some of the challenges experienced by small business owners, along with some practical and actionable solutions. I’m looking forward to being part of some resulting collaborations and helping to keep Melbourne one of the best places in the world to do business. Did you also attend Flying Solo LIVE 2018? Please share some of your take home messages in the comments.