Since all of you are at various parts of your entrepreneurial journey, I felt like I needed to spend some time talking about the early days when you’re just a beginner.
So – we all begin as newbies. And I say embrace this time…in fact, the more often I can get back to the beginner’s stage, the happier I become…
But today – I want to focus on the start.
There are tons of small, but important decisions you’ll need to make to set yourself and your business up so that your potential for success is as high as possible.
Now – that doesn’t mean you need to have everything completely figured out and locked in a 70 page business plan, but some super basic decisions will really help you leap out to the front of your industry and in front of your ideal customers.
Here are 6 big decisions you must make when you’re first starting your business.
1. What's your speciality? Now, I know this makes people a little cagey when they’re asked to define themselves…but know this, you aren’t being put in a box. You are making it easy for the first group of people you’ll serve to find you. You need to make it easy for your first customers to find you.
For example, at the very beginning of Fearless Launching, I focused my marketing on two then smaller specific audiences of entrepreneurs who I knew needed launch training. Of course, more advanced, launch saavy people came into the course, but my focus was always on bringing in people who were new to the process.
2. Who can you serve the best? Who really needs your help? Again, this doesn’t mean more people won’t come to the party. It just means you are going to focus your attention on finding the people you know you can teach, inspire, or provide a service to in a specific way.
For example, when I was teaching pilates – I specialized in working with prenatal and postnatal women. Did I have male clients and non-pregnant women too? Yesss…but the primary focus for my marketing, my networking, all my communication was to find more prenatal and postnatal women.
3. How do I want to actually make money? Now I know you might think you’re not quite ready to offer anything yet…but beginning with some sense of the end in mind is a great way to keep yourself focused on where you want to go.
Think of the first thing you can provide this focused group of people you’ve defined. Don’t try to offer up every single step or solution, just one to begin with…Now how do you want to deliver it?Will this method allow you to grow without working more hours or taking on all the work yourself?
If you’ve already got a stream of revenue coming in, where does it come from?
For example – I have always known that one on one coaching as a primary business model wasn't exactly right for me. Yes – I do love connecting with people on that super personal level, but being a coach has always made me feel stressed out…tied to a clock and hours. So I decided to focus on creating courses and educational programs as the main way my business makes money.
4. How will you communicate with your peeps on a regular basis? The trick is to start simple – and maybe even keep it that way. Pick one or two ways to communicate with your ideal audience on a regular basis.
Regular will mean something different for everyone–once per week, once every other week, 2x a week…every day. Know your schedule. Know what your regular basis is…and start telling people they can expect to hear from you on those days.
For example, Marie Forleo has her Q & A Tuesday. Laura Roeder has the Dash. She Podcasts releases a new episode on Mondays. My Fearless Launching Show goes live on Thursdays.
Find your regular – something you can sustain and works for you!
5. How can you start building your list? You need a list so you can be actively communicating with, getting to know, and giving value to a growing group of people. Sure you want the numbers to grow, but you also want to have a group of people to make specific offers to on a regular basis.
A few things to note about building a list – it's a non-negotiable especially if you want an online business. Don't rely on social media alone as your communication channel. It's great to get the following on Facebook and YouTube or Twitter or Instagram, but to keep the relationship growing, you need to be able to reach them from another channel.
Start at the very beginning of your journey even if you think you have NOTHING to offer.
6. Who can support and guide you as you're growing your business? Networking is one of those things that might seem hard to accept as a way to grow your business, but you can't do it alone. When you realize that – then you'll start to align with, get to know, become friends with likeminded people.
You need people who “get” what you're doing…not just so they can coach you, but so they can give you accountability, talk you off the ledge if you need it…and also tell you when they love what you're doing!
For example, I am friends with lots of different people online. Some – we never talk about business, some we pretty much go back and forth all the time. Some I only randomly call or reach out to…and some we see each other on a regular basis. And each relationship has developed over time…naturally.
Two Ways To Get Started
Option one: You can take the “figure out all the pieces yourself” approach.
which will likely take awhile (maybe years) to do. I know this because I was floundering for about 2 years when I first discovered this online business world.
It looked something like this – start a blog on healthy living, write very vague articles that were good but not focused on any one person or group of people, sell nothing, and communicate randomly so never really grow your list.
That is exactly what happened in my “business” before I ever should have called it that.
Option two: This is a much sweeter “step by step” tale that won't take quite as long.
My story that I've shared before is this – In 2010 just as I'd recently started working as a project manager for Laura Roeder…I was stumbling through blogging. That was also the year I started working on a new project with Laura and Marie Forleo – called B-School.
Now by 2011, even as we were headed into the 2nd year of launching the program, I started to go through the B-School material myself…and some interesting things started to happen.
I defined my specialty. I figured out who my audience was. I started creating Fearless Launching. I started communicating regularly about my specialty. And I started to get to know many of the people in the online biz community.
2012 kicked off with my first launch of Fearless Launching…where a small crew of 25 people joined the class! I was astounded…and excited…but I knew it was only the beginning.
3 years later and I’m completely independent now, fully supported by my own online course income, collaborating with well known entrepreneurs and authors….and building my business.
The bottom line – none of the past 3 years would have happened if I hadn’t made the decisions that B-School taught me to make.
Sure it helped that I was putting those to good use while working with Laura Roeder’s company, but I applied like a mofo and I haven’t stopped.
Even now – if I’m overwhelmed or unsure of a direction, I consult my B-School notebook or grab a funsheet to make the right decisions for my business.
Now It’s Your Turn
Whether you are just starting out or have been in the starting phase for a little longer than you want to admit, you have a choice.
You can take the longer, harder to navigate path to creating a life and business you love. OR…you can get the training, do exactly this, step by step, and accountability you need all in one spot to move yourself forward.
I’m a really ambitious person, so I thought I could figure it out. And – some things I did figure out. But the big decisions. The decisions that shape what your business is, how you make money, how you deliver value to people…and how to market your business to the right people…well, those pieces I wish I’d had earlier.
Until B-School, I was just guessing at how to put my business together. I knew how to run things once the business was together, but the initial steps and decisions were a mystery to me.
My advice shouldn’t be a shocker. Check out Marie Forleo’s B-School – it opens only once a year and once join, you'll get world class education and an active community of support that will GET YOU!
Disclaimer: And…because I’m also a promotional partner for the program – it feels wrong for me NOT to promote this program – I’ve created a special bonus package for anyone who enrolls in the program through my affiliate link. Two things about that – yes I do get a commission if you enroll through me, but you also get some goods too.