I’m super excited about this post and episode because it was inspired by a listeners email to me (Thanks Jen!). I don’t know about you, but I often forget that just because I understand and know something doesn’t mean everyone in my audience does. I won’t go down my armchair psychologist rant and self-diagnose on that one, but suffice it to say I’ve gotten away from some of the basics of what I’ve learned while growing my business.
Which makes sense.
By now you guys know that I’m a bit of an information nut and love testing and trying new things. However, as fun as all that is, am I overlooking an element that can be serving my audience?
One of my first few podcast episodes I did was “What I Would Do Different if I Were Starting My Business Today”. That was 3 years ago. Holy moly has things changed.
Not just in my business, but in how I do things. Fortunately, the 7 things I listed in that post are still relevant, but I’d like to approach it from a little different perspective and include some actual step-by-step direction in hopes that this will help someone.
I’m going to use WordPress as the business example here but really you can use any niche or business because most of this is going to be applicable across the board.
Let’s get into the updated version of “What I’d do differently if I were starting my business today”.
While I’m a HUGE believer in jumping in and taking action there is something to be said for starting out with some sort of strategy in place. The challenge with this is that you don’t know what you don’t know, right?
What’s fantastic about the internet today (as opposed to 8 years ago when I started), is that you can pretty much find someone who has done what you want to do. The not-so-fantastic part of finding someone who has blazed a trail before you is that you can quickly lose yourself in the process but feel like you’re doing everything right (copying as opposed to modeling).
Start with the end in mind
I did this recently when I was re-designing my site (which still has plenty of tweaking to do, but hey ho). I really took some time to step back and think about what my goals were with my site. Then I backed into it. I know this sounds really ambiguous, so let’s start from a fresh perspective.
Let’s say you’re starting a new WordPress business. Maybe you’re offering website services (new sites, hosting, maintenance). The bare-bones minimum you have to start with is what your target income is (and while I am a HUGE believer in setting big goals and the right intentions, we’re simply looking for your number here).
- Are you replacing the income from a job?
- Do you need to bring in X amount of money to cover specific expenses?
- Do you not have to cover expenses? (have a spouse or partner whose income covers everything)
- What business expenses do you have to cover?
Once you have your “number” in mind, then you can back into it. For me this was a little challenging because the industry was totally new to me and I did SO much second-guessing because I wasn’t a trained programmer or designer… thankfully those days are behind me).
Here’s what I wish someone had told me when I was getting started:
“It’s just as easy to find someone willing to pay what you’re worth as it is to find someone who will negotiate the hell out of your value.”
That’s where the almighty “C” word comes in.
No, not that word you dirty bird.
I’m totally going to contradict myself here because you will constantly be getting clearer and clearer as your business evolves, so the things you’re clear on today will be completely different from the things you’re clear on 5 years from now.
You need to get clear on both the tangibles and the intangibles.
Here are some examples of both:
– Income / rates
– Business hours
– Communication (email only? phone calls? in-person meetings)
– Work you do (brochure sites? e-commerce sites? consulting?)
– The type of people you want to work with (do they treat you with respect? or are you the hired help?)
– Energy: I’ve gotten much better at trusting my gut when it comes to who I work with. WAY too many times I’ve taken on a project because I “needed the money”… trust me. There is someone else out there who will not cause a pit in your stomach.
– What does your day look like? (quality of life)
– What kind of brand are you building?
Let’s get into Specifics
- Lead Generation: I would put an emphasis on lead generation from day one. I would ensure that there are multiple ways for people to opt-in on my site, including within my content and set up multiple squeeze pages so I could test what converted the best.
- Paid Traffic: Hands down one of the BEST things you can do for your business. SEO & content is absolutely important, but consider that the marathon and paid traffic is the sprint. They can work beautifully together and nothing beats getting a couple wins early on. I don’t care if it’s $100 or $10… to see that something works early on will be all the motivation you need. You don’t have to jump into Google PPC or Facebook ads. There are TONS of other ways to buy traffic. And its not cheating… it’s smart. Would you open a restaurant or physical retail space and do NO advertising?
- Selling: I would start selling as soon as possible and as often as possible.
- Joint Venture: Network, connect and grow relationships.
- Learn Copy: I certainly went into copy kicking and screaming, but it’s a skill that will make ALL the difference in the world.
- Email consistently and often: for WAY too long I was worried about emailing too often or heaven forbid I sent an email offering something for sale. That’s all behind me now. I’m going through the process of getting my list used to getting more email from me and am going to start adding in offers consistently (as well as content). Keep in mind anything I recommend or make an offer for is either my own product or something I use and recommend.
- Track & Measure: I’ve known the importance of this for a long time… unfortunately it also took a long time for me to implement it. No point crying over spilled milk though, right? You can always start where you’re at with what you’ve got.
Investing in Your Business
Invest in what will give you a return… not the latest trend or tactic. Like most people online I’ve paid the ‘newbie internet marketing tax’… i.e, buying a bunch of courses or programs that are going to be “it”.
I’ve also invested in mentors and a mastermind. The experiences were amazing, I learned a ton and increased my income. When it didn’t feel right I left (as hard as it was).
Tools: I’ve also invested in the right tools (and plenty more that I didn’t need… but for what it’s worth, the tools tend to be cheaper than the courses). AND… I’ve made decisions on tools that work for me and NOT listened to what everyone else was doing (think Infusionsoft here… I tried my hand at it twice and hated it both times. I could NOT be happier with Active Campaign!).
My biggest bit of advice when it comes to investing in your business is to:
- be clear on your business goals (objectives, intentions… whatever works for you)
- Ask yourself if the investment (course, product, mentor, etc.) is getting you closer to what your primary objective (what you really want) or is a distraction
- Once you make the decision to invest, don’t regret it (i.e, don’t beat yourself up about, be frustrated for making the investment, etc.).
And that my friends, is what I’d do differently if I were starting my business today.
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