I’ve taken online courses, I’ve studied online entrepreneurs, I’ve read books and listened to more than 200 hours of podcasts. Most importantly, I’ve started acting on these lessons and am entering the world of online business in 2016.
The foundation was slowly built over maternity leave, and continues to be developed. But the revenue is beginning to trickle in. The potential is there, and now I am going from building mode to testing and refining mode. I’ve tested a few models and it’s time to sit down and clarify the goals, and intensify my focus.
Most online entrepreneurship classes hammer home the whole niche thing. As a multi-passionate I really, really struggled with this question. I did not find my niche. I just started putting a few ideas and business products out there, to see a.) what I enjoyed and b.) what gained traction. I actually think this is the best way. Most entrepreneurs get stuck at the start line because they feel like they have to have this entire formula figured out. What is your niche? What problem are you solving? What are you going to charge to solve it? And so it goes.
The sweet spot is developing a product that catches hold with your audience, and catches hold with you. A and B above.
A few products that I developed started returning a revenue. But I realized in working on some of them, that I wasn’t passionate enough to invest most of my time and focus in that one area. So I redirected my focus to the few that made me come alive – where I had a deeper well to draw from. The thing is, you won’t know this answer (and cannot possibly know this) till you try it out.
So jump into online business with the intent to discover one type of product you like, and one type of product you don’t like. I mean it. Your goal is to have one success and one failure, at least! There really is nothing to lose other than the time you put into it.
1.) Building an online business is a lot of small tasks. They can drive you crazy unless you think about them as steps that get you closer to your goal. One day is going to be about getting mail chimp set up. Another day is just sorting out some nice typography for your instagram. One day is going to be setting up / learning about Facebook ads. Another day may be organizing receipts in your inbox. Another day may be buying more storage in iCloud. Acknowledge and learn to enjoy the satisfaction in completing these tasks, even if they are overwhelming and there’s a steep learning curve. There’s a lot of them, so get over it. It’s quite satisfying crossing them off in a journal or on your note taking app.
2.) Remember, anything you do, is one step closer to your goal. While others are quitting at 3 months in, you are just taking one step at a time and being strategic. The tortoise wins the race. Most successful online entrepreneurs will tell you they were working at it a while before things took off. I’m a big fan of the blunt truth talker Ramit Sethi of I Will Teach You To Be Rich – check out the infographic in his post showing his product development over six years!
You’ve got at least 40 years left on this earth. Don’t worry about it. Do it because you love it. Don’t compare yourself to the entrepreneurs who have 70 hours a week, or even 20 to work on their projects and launches. You are working very hard on a few precious hours per week. Things will happen for you, but they will happen on your schedule.
4.) Ignorance is bliss, and it contributes to action. Find some amazing people who are doing what you what to do. Study how they do it, their webpage, their brand and learn from them. But be cautious. I do think that some over-confidence / ignorance is bliss. Study others just enough to know how to do things well, but not too much. As soon as you see how many people are doing what you are doi ng, you will become intimidated and discouraged. When I started my successful Kickstarter campaign, I found two other campaigns I loved and made notes on their models. I focused only on a few successful ones and did not look at just how many children’s books are on Kickstarter. I wouldn’t have started had I known how saturated Kickstarter is and how much better everyone else’s campaigns looked. I’m so glad I ran a basic campaign (with much room to improve) and learnt from it, rather than never doing it because I was blocked by intimidation and the desire to do it perfectly. Block out the external noise and focus on what you need to do.
5.) Have a clear idea of what lifestyle you are working towards. I use Pinterest to do some vision boarding. I have a board called “My goals // my life in progress” (yes, that’s my board right there!) and it is images of the lifestyle and rewards I want for myself and my family. Even as simple as pictures of someone standing in the window, sipping coffee – or a family photo of parents playing in the snow with the kids. I am constantly adding images to this board and it builds a powerful desire – deep within – to keep plugging away.
6.) Make sure you enjoy your entrepreneurial journey and the project itself, as much as you’d enjoy the lifestyle that comes with it. Your project should be a “Hell yeah” project. Actually, anything you do should be a “hell yeah or no” situation, as put forth by the fabulous writer Derek Sivers. You cannot be an influencer in something you are not passionate about. People see straight through that. That’s why there is so much talk about #authenticity on the internet these days.
7.) You don’t necessarily have to take an online course. Most online entrepreneurs’ courses are simply repackaged and re-branded versions of content they have previously published. It is extra work to commit and dig through old content, but it is doable. So really, we are talking about time vs. money. If you want to spend less money, there’s more of a time investment on hunting down the information. If you want to spend more money, you’ll cut some corners and avoid some mistakes other entrepreneurs made. Eventually, both routes end up at the same destination.
8.) That being said, the action of financially investing in a course and being part of a community is powerful. Connecting with other students is a great framework if you are concerned about follow through and prefer team environments. I also believe online courses are very helpful for those of us who are not skilled in the technical aspects of online business. I’ve made wonderful connections in some entrepreneurs’ communities that I gained access through, as part of the course. The Smart Passive Income community, Kimra Luna’s #Freedomhackers and others.
9.) Attend conferences and work outside of the house. Just get out there. In the business world, networking, friendships, potential deals and closed deals happen outside of the office. They don’t happen when you are sitting alone on a laptop in a room. Get out there. Attend a conference. Yes, it’s $500 – $1000 to do, but trust me, that investment will pay itself off in a few years down the road with business that is generated as a result of the relationships you made at that conference, or as a result of the business improvements or renewed motivation you received from that event. This one I have not done yet, and I have this conference on my bucket list. I cannot wait to do this! I’ve also added this one – Lewis Howes’ Summit of Greatness – to my pinterest board.
10.) Start saving receipts with the Wave app and creating a “receipts” category in your Gmail now. There’s so many random little expenses with starting up online. Cloud storage, random apps, Skype credits, Domain registration, etc. It’s easy to forget about all of those expenses.
11.) Don’t ever put too much weight on your total Instagram likes or comments. 80% of your Instagram activity will be hustlers. Focus on the 5 or less people who you authentically connect on there. And get unique with your hashtags. What hashtags would you look for? Don’t use the “most popular” hashtags. It’s like dangling bait in the water – the sharks will come circling in. I onced used #fitfam and #fitspiration and #postpartumweightloss – The Beach Body coaches that came running…..
12.) Have your product researched and developed before you launch it. If you arrive in the online business arena with a developed product, you will give less of a shit when the haters or non-supporters rear their ugly heads. I had a hater a few weeks ago on Kickstarter. A really unpleasant message that felt like a kick to the gut, initially.
If my children’s book wasn’t 90% complete, I would have taken his comments to heart. The completion gave me immunity and the ability to pen back a professional letter addressing his trolling. He wound up apologizing and pledging to the campaign.
13.) Be mindful of phone time. If you want a great check in, have your partner take a photo of you holding the phone up in front of your face. Look at that picture. This is what your kids may see. It’s really hard, I know, especially when you are excited about your work and are desparate to work on it! I’ve realized that I have to be in a separate room or working during the kids’ sleep hours. They don’t need or deserve the back of my phone in front of their face.
14.) You are going to get up early or stay up late to work on your business. My formula has been: Nap when the baby and toddler nap at mid day, and then wake up super early a few days a week. A great day is a 5-5:30 start so that I have 1.5 hours to get stuff done with a nice cup of coffee. It sounds insane but I love what I do enough that it’s not hard to get up. Wait. That’s a great question! Do you like it enough to get up at 5:30 am (or stay up until 2am) working on it? It is shocking how much you can get done with 1.5 hours, trust me.
15.) Filter all social media and read selectively. Follow inspirational or helpful feeds. Your time is precious as an entrepreneur. If you are going to take a precious 30 minutes for an iPhone break, fill it with good things that inspire. Also, stop reading all of those pages, blog posts, social media posts that talk about motherhood and “being too busy” “losing balance” blabllablablabla. You can get stuck in the travails of early motherhood and circle around in that loop, or you can climb above it. Those are all legit opinions, and motherhood IS hard – but will they serve your goals if you decide to take those opinions on and make them your own? Or spend your time steeping in those messages?
Probably not. Start hunting out and reading about success stories.