BLOG SERIES: Part 2 - How to Grow a Successful Online BusinessMay 12, 2022
This blog post was first published on 26 May 2020
If you’re thinking of starting out with an business and have no idea where to begin, or perhaps you’ve been in business for a little while but you aren’t seeing the growth and impact you want, then this five part blog series is for you. I’ll be sharing how I went from zero community and zero impact to an engaged community which has a huge positive impact supporting women with online businesses.
How to Grow a Successful Online Business: Part Two
Where to start
In the first blog post in this series I wrote about how I had started my online business and how I grew it into something which now makes a huge positive impact on hundreds of women by supporting them with the legal elements of running their business. If you missed that you can read that here. Tomorrow I will be covering the actual “how-to” including starting a business with a minimal budget and how to keep the expenses to less than £100 per month.
Today’s post is all about, “Where the heck do I start when I want to set up an online business?” The five tips in this blog post will help you whether you are just starting out or whether you have been in business for a while but you are yet to turn your business into something profitable.
Many people who I work with come to me at the very early stages of their business and they are still really unsure what their business idea will look like and what services they will be offering. They are really stuck and feeling overwhelmed trying to find their niche and their ideal client and they feel like they are going around in circles. Whilst there are some really great resources online, I do believe that there is also a lot of noise. Not all of it is helpful.
The best thing you can do is to get started.
Easier said than done you might think. This blog post will show you that there has never been a better time to start an online business. Get started today and:
1. Create a Community
Simply choose a social media platform where you feel most comfortable and start sharing content which you love and which can help others. The best thing about this is you can start completely for free. People use social media either for humour or for education. If you can find a balance of the two and give people really valuable content then you are on to something.
At the start I used to worry that if I shared my best content online then no-one would want to buy from me. I was wrong. I regularly share valuable tips and information on social media for free and also share free opt-ins too. My most downloaded opt-in “The Ultimate Legal Checklist” includes a list of the key documents which you need to consider if you’re starting in business. It is a brilliant resource and it helps people to plan when they will purchase the template documents from my site.
Building a community is the perfect way for you to learn from others in business and also chat to your ideal clients. Find out what they need and then go away and create exactly that. It’s also a place to build friendships and support systems to help keep you motivated.
BONUS: When you’re building your community on social media don’t forget to welcome them to your site or more specifically your mailing list, so that you can keep the conversation going. The quickest way to build an audience is provide really valuable content so that the next obvious step is for someone to sign up to your mailing list to hear more from you.
This is different to simply hanging out on social media and it’s a key way to grow quickly. Building your own community and audience takes time. If you are an expert in your field then why not offer your expertise to others who already have an audience. Again, you can use social media and host lives, Q&As or deliver masterclasses in other people’s paid for membership groups.
The best way to do this is to find groups which are similar to yours but don’t offer the same services. So if there is a group of entrepreneurs and you are a health coach you could deliver a training on incorporating healthy living into your life as an entrepreneur. The group would be full of your ideal client and the probably aren’t already receiving that information so you are not a direct competitor.
Another brilliant way to network is to be a podcast guest and be interviewed. You’ll get the opportunity to talk about your business but also share your personality and inspiring stories about why you do what you do.
Other networking opportunities include skill swaps, face-to-face events and guest blogging opportunities.
3. Don’t be Afraid to Fail
Not all of your ideas are going to work. Even the ideas which you think are brilliant may flop. I honestly believe that knowing and accepting this to be true instantly improves the way you do business because once you know that your ideas might not be successful the pressure is turned off. There is a great saying, “Never a failure, always a lesson”. Whatever happens in your business you will learn something. Taking action leads to success because even if you make a mistake you can take action and do something slightly different next time.
There comes a time when you are running business that you realise that you’re consuming and not actually doing that much. The input and output balance is wrong. The quickest way to learn what will work is by trying something out.
I am a fan of taking “messy action” but only up to a point. I do not recommend that anyone invests large amounts of money into anything without ensuring that their investment is properly secure.
One lesson I learnt the hard way is not asking my audience what they wanted. I came from a fitness background and so the obvious place for me to start growing my audience was by supporting health and wellness professionals. I am a qualified personal trainer and I knew that when I was starting out I would have loved a package of all of the legal documents which I needed. So I created the whole package. I didn’t tell anyone about it I was so excited. and wanted to surprise my audience. I spent hours on the documents and when I first launched it no-one bought them. I was heart-broken. How could personal trainers not see that they needed my documents? Well they knew they needed them but they simply didn’t have £500+ to spend on a package of legal documents.
Eventually one person bought the bundle. Did I chalk this up as my biggest failure? No way.. I learnt so much about speaking to my audience and sounding ideas out before I created them. I am not someone who advocates selling an entire course or programme before you have created it and there is a difference. What I am suggesting is set out in more detail below.
4. Trial Ideas
Not being afraid to fail is the first step but then you need to take action. Start by asking your audience what they want to see. Social media, particularly Instagram Stories is great for this. You can start talking about a topic which you think your ideal client needs to know more about. Ask them a question or poll them on your Stories and see what the response is. If no-one responds don’t give up. Tweak the question or change the options and see whether there is a better response.
Remember, keep the input and output in balance - don’t over consume courses and training without spending time on implementation.
Taking a stance on something and sharing your view point cal really help with this. Before I launched Sell Legit - my online template for website terms and conditions - I shared an issue which was really frustrating me. On both my Stories and in a Facebook Group filled with over 5,000 of my ideal clients I explained that I had seen a coach launch a new programme and state “No refunds available”. What?! Surely everyone knows that is illegal? I asked and it turns out that lots of people don’t know that. Many people have no idea that you are legally obliged to offer a refund 14 days following purchase, UNLESS, you are selling an instant download and then you need specific wording. I chatted to my audience about these issues and they really keen to learn more. When I launched my online template Sell Legit I sold so many downloads in the first few days because people knew they needed this to protect their position legally.
5. Focus on One Thing
In the first post in this series I wrote all about the art of simplicity in your business. I believe that one of the key ways to become successful is to become known for one thing. Many entrepreneurs have so many interests and a lot of experience in different fields and they try to deliver information on all of them. The end result is that they become a generalist. They aren’t the podcast person or the email marketing person or the Facebook Ads pro.
It might seem counter-intuitive to get really specific because then you will feel like you’re going to lose potential customers. The number of people you gain by creating a name for yourself and being the go-to in a specific industry far outweighs the number you will gain by trying to do everything.
The extra bonus is that once you know exactly what you are delivering you will be able to get really clear on your marketing and your content. You will really be able to speak to your clients pain points and solve the problems they have. Once your clients know you have the solution in your products or services they are much more likely to buy from you.
I believe in collaboration over competition so if you’ve loved this post then feel free share it on Instagram and Facebook.
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