10 Things I Wish I Would Have Known When Starting A Business
I’m so excited to let you in on the 10 things I wish I would have known when I got started. There could have been WAY more than 10, but I really tried to give you ones you haven’t heard of before, things that could really save you from making a mistake or two that you don't need to make. So, here we go!
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1 - Focus on one thing
If you’re like me, you want to do everything ALL the time.This is by far my biggest mistake and I will probably say that about each one because these feel so obvious after you figure it out. Doing all the things brings chaos and not organized chaos but real chaos and confusion to your customers. I thought when I had 5 people buy something I needed to create another product or program instead of tweaking that program, making it better, and selling it again.
I did this in my dance studios and then again in my online business. I always think I’m leaving money on the table or my customers want more from me. I always thought I need to create or offer x, y, or z for them, when in reality, the best thing I can do for my customers is make the original product better and serve more people with that. Don’t diversify until you have mastered the first thing.
2 - Protect your personal information.
I had to learn the hard way on this one many years ago. I didn’t invest in a business phone line at first, I just thought why can’t I use my cell phone? I had it publicly listed on our website, the building, email, etc. It was fine when I was first starting out because I was so small. I didn’t get that many calls...but one day the business started to get much bigger and calls were coming in all the time. It would interrupt me all hours of the day. There was no down time. There were people who didn’t understand boundaries. Let’s talk about the people that shoot you text messages because they know it’s your cell phone and they say things like - I know you are getting married today but I just wanted to update my credit card when you have a minute…
Oh yes, these things happened!! Some people are respectful and some people think I’m paying you so you need to be on my beck and call. At some point, I had to get a new cell phone and transfer that number to the new business phone line. Thankfully when I started my online business I knew this so I didn’t make that mistake but I know some of you don’t know this yet and I want to make sure you know what to do and how to get out of it if you are there already.
First, I use tools like Zoom so no one can contact me whenever they want, it’s by appointment only. If for some reason, I need to call them, in my iPhone settings, I can turn off my caller id, so they can’t see my number, it shows up as blocked. If you need a business phone line but it is silly to pay for one, we use Google Voice which is free.
3 - You don't have to hire the best of the best
We all know there are levels of every contractor we hire. The higher the level they’re at the more they charge, not always, but usually. There are also things like software that do more and charge more. What do I mean? For instance, Infusionsoft is a big email provider that does pretty much everything and a lot of the big names in this space use it. Another one that I heard about was Ontraport. I have this quote that is stuck in my head and sometimes it really helps me and sometimes it’s overkill, “start with the end in mind.” If you are going to end somewhere, just start there. So I thought well, Ontraport looks good, I will start there if that is where I wanted to end up.
At the time a few years ago Ontraport was $297/month while Convertkit was $29/month. When you add that up for the first year the difference is over $3,000! Should I have gone with some less expensive like Convertkit? Absolutely. That $3,000 could have been better spent someplace else. I realized there is a time to up-level and it isn’t always from day 1, especially when you’re just figuring out who you are and what you want to do. I owned a lot of software and paid for it monthly when I wasn’t even publicly sharing anything yet because it takes time to set everything up. I was paying but not selling.
My problem was if someone would publicly mention their copywriter, videographer or virtual assistant, I always thought I needed to work with them, because I was starting with the end in mind. If I am going to end up there, I should hire them now, right? I realized that I wasn't ready for the best A+ people. I shouldn't have been paying for the best of the best while I was figuring out who I was and still evolving. The only A+ player it’s never too early to hire is an A+ mentor.
4 - Get personal
People don’t want to buy from just a business these days, they want to feel connected to the brand and to the seller...YOU! The more you can share and show them you are a real person, a small business owner, the more they will relate and want to support you. I know we want to look professional and polished but the more you resonate and show how real you are the more they appreciate it. I always thought why would anyone care about my personal life? They don’t need to know that Tanner just went to her first day of Kindergarten yesterday or Teagan cried because she wanted to go too.
I was right. My customers don’t need to, but they want to! Just like I want to know more about someone I follow, like, and trust. Let people see more of you than just your business. Write down things you love, dislike, think are funny, think are stupid and share yourself and not just your business. I am still a work in progress and trying to share more and every time I do, I hear from you and it reminds me to do it more often.
5 - Up-level faster
When I started researching online I was only following the big gurus and because they are making multiple millions of dollars per year, they no longer have to offer private coaching, high level masterminds or anything where you get any real time attention from them. Which is great...for them! Not for someone starting out that needs personal attention. I was buying online course after online course and spending time with 500-1,000 other people inside these programs or at their live events, but I was so desperately looking for a private coach or a high level mastermind. I got it in my head that people didn’t do that anymore because they didn’t need to.
I finally found a private coach about a year plus into my online business and my business started making consistent money within 90 days. I spent the first year basically testing and failing, trial and error for everything. A private coach can fast track that time. What I like about private coaching is you can find whatever coach you want and as long as they think you are a good fit to work with them. I also kept looking for a mastermind and I had been involved in masterminds for over a decade and tried a few in the online space before I found the right one.
I was recently talking to someone who said she didn’t want to be in a mastermind unless everyone was way above her. This is a common statement I hear and I know I have said it myself. This is really hard for me to say, but I have to say it because I love you and just like I needed to hear this from someone, I want to help you too. The problem is the people way above you don’t want you to be in the group, they don’t want someone way below them. They want people that will challenge them and feel like they belong in the group with them. If you aren’t making money in your business right now, it’s going to be really hard to find a mastermind group where everyone is making $250k.
When you’re first getting started and making no money, understand that you’re going to be with people at your level. If that sounds like you, the good news is there are more of us out there! Now one mistake that I made was I invested in mastermind where the price was so cheap, it should have stopped me right there. What I realized in that mastermind was the people I was trying to get around… those go-getters, they were spending way more than that. They were invested, willing to do whatever it takes, they weren’t shopping around for the cheapest mastermind. That was a breakthrough and I started to look at price in an entirely different way.
6 - This is not going to be a crazy overnight success.
I’m not saying it’s going to take you years, but I’m saying if you were hoping for your big break on week 3, it just might not turn out the way you were hoping. Don’t rush. I used to work til midnight. The hustle was real and it was crazy. I was always working, checking email, replying on social media, every minute of every day. Here’s the thing, it’s not going to happen tomorrow. This is a marathon not a 5k. Set boundaries, plan a morning routine, a bedtime routine and figure out times when you get to take a break and actually enjoy your life.
With that I would say reward yourself along the way. I think a lot of us believe it’s just a 5k and when we cross that finish line, just wait till you see what we buy, or wait till you see what my schedule is going to look like then. I’m going to spend time with my children, go on a date with my husband, go to the spa for an entire day. We plan and plan and plan, but we keep working and wonder where is the finish line. The real problem I’ve noticed with myself is that someone keeps moving the finish line. I set a goal and when I’m just about to achieve it, I set a new goal and keep increasing it. In reality I’ve been crossing the finish lines with the goals I set but I keep pushing it further and further away and talking to a lot of friends, other high achievers, guest experts I have interviewed right here on this show, it sounds like I am not alone in that.
I realized this is a never ending marathon and that’s ok because it's a race I don’t want to stop. I love the journey I’m on but we can’t just reward ourselves at the end because the end is way further away then we think. We need to reward ourselves at the mile markers. Every time we pass a number, stop and take a moment to celebrate you are one step closer. It doesn’t matter if it costs a little, a lot or if it’s free. Recognize your achievements and reward yourself for a job well done because that is how you will keep the motivation going and kick the burn out to the curb.
7 Make sure everything flows
Just because you show up on social media, doesn’t mean it’s actually doing anything. I would post pretty graphics and show up live and I thought I was doing all the things, I even had a freebie that I would talk about occasionally. It seemed like I had all of the pieces but they didn’t go together. What do I mean? I would ask myself 5 minutes before going live, what should I talk about today? I know, I will talk about 5 things you need to know when you are just getting started. Ok now what freebie should I offer? I would pick something like 10 questions to ask in the interview process when hiring your next employee.
It didn’t make sense, nothing led to the next thing. I wasn’t clear on my message and I definitely didn’t have a clear customer journey for my customers to take. Your social media content is leading them to your freebie, your freebie should lead them to your product, everything should flow. This one thing would have given me so much more conversion, grew my email list faster, and sold more products. Don’t just do all the things without a strategy!
8 - You can dream bigger than that
Here in Wisconsin, I’m in my comfort zone. I still see people I went to high school with, everything is very familiar and to a lot of people here I am doing big things. When I’m here, I think I’ve got everything all together, life is amazing, just wait until you see what I’ve been working on. Then I head to an event with other entrepreneurs and my dreams sound teeny, tiny. I was playing more on the realistic side and I started to see that there are crazy success stories that aren’t the norm and I realized I needed to stop making realistic goals.
I needed to pick things that stretched me but I needed to say them around people that didn't think they were outrageous, in fact, I would say a crazy goal and someone would say, why not charge more, why not offer less of your time, etc. I have had people in my life say a goal and I would 2nd guess them, think in my head, that doesn’t sound realistic, or I don't think they could actually do it, then a few months later, they come back and exceed the goal they set and my mind was blown. You will never hear me say no because I have realized that anything is possible. You can set the biggest dream you have, but you better make sure you are playing at that level and you take the action that dream needs to really back it up.
9 Focus on your growing your list,
I heard this over and over and over, but I thought I will do that as soon as I grow my Facebook following or other numbers that were public. I really thought it was more important for the vanity numbers for credibility, yet I would hear about growing your email list and things like you don't own any social media platforms, so make sure to grow your list. I heard that for about a year before I said, ok now I should really focus on my list. All I did was delay that success for a year.
If you say I already know something but you aren’t doing it, that doesn’t count. You don’t truly know if you are not doing. If you absolutely knew how important it was, you would take action. What’s more important for you to look like you are successful and have a huge following on social but not very many sales or a successful business on the inside even though the social following may not be there. Why are you really doing this business? It’s probably to make money and be profitable, have more freedom, flexibility and that is why we have to bring up number 10.
10 - Focus on profit, not gross
The first suggestion I would make is read the book Profit First. I read this book when I was 15 years into my business and said, I’ve been doing this completely wrong. It’s really hard to break a habit that’s 15 years old. Read this book and know that when you focus on profit and actually making money, you will be much happier than saying I want a 6 or 7 figure business, a 6 or 7 figure launch. What we should say is I want to profit $20k, $50k and so on. It’s not about what you brought in, its about what you kept. It’s where we have to kick our ego to the curb. Do we want to sound like a big deal throwing around big numbers or do we actually want to enjoy our business and our life?
There was so much in here and if you could take away one more thing by reading it again, it could save you hours of wasted time or bring in that much more money. Even though you have probably already made a mistake in your business and if you haven’t, you will. Don’t worry, you are smarter, stronger, and these are the things that mold the person you are today. Now i know I brought up setting those boundaries as #6 and if you haven’t listened to episode #274 about getting back into the swing of things, make sure to listen to that next. In the meantime come say hi on Instagram @stacytuschl or let’s continue this conversation in our She’s Building Her Empire Facebook group. See you soon!