According to the FSB in 2016 there were 4.2 million – yes 4,200,000 non-employing businesses. Personal trainers, hairdressers, accountants, gardeners, coaches, designers, upholsterers, writers, marine biologists….the list is endless.
How do these ‘sole traders’ do everything needed to run a well-oiled business without burning the midnight oil or outsourcing to a raft of specialists? It’s that trade-off between time and money which is the constant dilemma for the solopreneur. The tipping point for where it becomes profitable to outsource is a precarious one particularly when cash flow ebbs and flows.
And there’s a further problem. Many of these non-employing businesses have a transactional revenue model. I go to the physio for a course of treatment, I’m cured, that’s it until maybe five years time. For the physio it’s always about finding the next patient. Similarly. a will writer needs a constant source of new clients as his or her customer base isn’t writing a new will every 6 months. The graphic designer may be in a slightly better position with a regular stream of new brochures, data sheets, or adverts to design for one client each year or so. For many non-employing businesses marketing is a constant battle.
The problem is even greater for the solo landscaper or builder where they’re not working on multiple projects at a time but have to schedule them back to back hampered by the vagaries of the weather, the supply chain and customers who say, ‘while you’re here, could you just…..?’
Coupled with a time lag between expenses and payments, the situation for the one-person band is stressful.
It’s an endless cycle of marketing-doing-marketing-doing…until the marketing does itself, when referrals become the fuel for new business.

What has this to do with social media?

I love social media. Which is a good thing really as I do it all  day. The online world fascinates me but I know for many it’s a necessary evil. The reasons for avoiding it are many – the tech, what to say, is anyone reading my stuff?, I’ve no battery, I’ve no signal, I’ve no time, and so on.
Even when I say it takes just 10 minutes a day and costs nothing. It’s a no. So, it’s the inclination that’s missing. And that’s the way it should be… you love teaching not tweeting, you love flowers not Facebook, you love the law not Linkedin. You’d rather stick to your expertise but there’s something nagging about not doing social media and it’s FOMO, the fear of missing out.
So what am I suggesting…

No inclination, No budget. No time

Here are some suggestions for you if you prefer to avoid social media marketing yourself:


  1. For the time poor with a budget, outsource it to the specialist who can achieve so much more in a fraction of the time.
  2. For the determined, learn how to make the most of the 10 minutes a day on the right platform with the right messages.
  3. Go back to old school marketing such as leafleting.
  4. Put up posters where there’s relevant footfall
  5. Give existing customers a leaflet with a referral bonus
  6. Attend MeetUps, free networking, jellies, hang around conference and exhibitions.
  7. Even ask your friends
When I start working with a new client there are two simple questions I ask: firstly, where do you get your customers from. By looking back over a year’s worth of invoices it’s an easy task to track the source of new business. If it was from recommendation, find more referrals; if it was from a leaflet drop, do it again. If Google played an important part in your marketing, keep up the blog writing and making sure your ranking in the search engines is optimised.
The second question I ask is: what is the lifetime value of a client? That’s not just the profit you make from their transactions but also the profit from the referrals you receive. For an accountant t is many thousands over the years, for a gardener several hundred a year, and so on. Consider what you would invest in getting some help with your marketing rather than soldiering on alone.

So, back to social media

For the 4.2 million non-employing business owner in the UK, there are two choices when it comes to social media marketing – if you can see a positive return then it’s an activity you either have to outsource or get good at yourself. Alternatively, give it up and stick to the old-school, tried and tested methods. The choice is yours.
If you are looking to discuss the issues raised in this blog post, take advantage of our 15 minutes complimentary consultation. Call Amanda on 01707 373138 to arrange a convenient time.
Categories: social media