8 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started My Online Business Journey

Hindsight is a wonderful thing when you hear yourself thinking, I wish I knew …

unless you allow yourself to sink into the pits of despair thinking about what might have been…

…but that’s not what this article is about.

If I hadn’t traversed the path I have, I would have missed out on an immense amount of learning and knowledge, however the downside of learning as I did, is it cost me a huge amount of time, energy and in some cases money.

I started thinking about this because we are getting ready to launch our Members Academy and there are some ‘housekeeping’ issues that need to be attended to. I’ll explain more in each of the points below.

Below in no particular order, are 8 things I wish I had known when I started the on-line component of my business.

1. The Importance of the 4 R's

Right Audience, Right Message, Right Time, Right Offer

I’ve been to plenty of seminars and trainings and there isn’t one I can think of that didn’t talk about the importance of niching and knowing your ideal client and getting your message right. It took me a good 2 to 3 years to fully understand and appreciate what this meant.

Getting this was as much a mindset shift as it was a business growth strategy.

Lightbulb MomentMy reluctance was my mis-understanding of what this REALLY meant. Why would I miss out on all those people I could work with by niching? It didn’t make sense!

It didn’t make sense because it wasn’t explained to me properly. My lightbulb moment came when I realised,

Once I got this, and took the time to write out my ideal clients, (yes you can have more than 1!), everything got easier.

Here’s Why

When you niche you can clearly define who your right audience is,

When you know your audience:

  • you can clearly articulate the right message – one that is benefit driven. It will speak directly to their fears and frustrations or wants and aspirations.
  • you will have a better understanding of when the time is right, and
  • you will know the right offer to make at that time.

2. Implement As You Learn

I love to learn! It invigorates me and makes me feel good.

But I have also learnt along the way, that I need to learn and do! I spent a lot of time learning, and learning, and learning but not implementing…soon enough. I was always waiting until I thought I knew enough or the time was right.

Guess what?

There is never a right time and you won’t know how much you know until you try it.

Riding a bikeI liken it to when I learnt to ride a bike. I listened to what I was told and I watched other people riding bikes (YouTube didn’t exist back when I learnt) but it wasn’t until I did it myself that I really got it. I learnt very quickly what I could and couldn’t do, and found ways to compensate. Business is no different, implement as you learn and work out what you need along the way.

3. Automate What You Can

There is so much technology thrust at us when we start our business journey and it can be overwhelming, and expensive – in both money and time!

There have been times when I’ve wanted to throw my arms in the air and scream. My biggest takeaway is have an idea of where you want to be in 18 – 24 months and plan for that. Then you cat hissing at dogcan work out what components you need, just make sure they are compatible (some programs are like cats and dogs, they don’t always play nicely together).

Ask questions, and keep asking until you get an answer you understand. 

Automating can have it’s headaches but when you get the system set up and all the pieces working correctly together it’s a dream. It saves you time, reduces human error and if your business is online it adds money to your bank account.

Embrace technology and find out how you can use it to maximise your business growth. Learn how to use it, or at least know what it does so you can delegate confidently and question accordingly.

If you are new to this there are a few things you need to do sooner rather than later:

Check your proposed business name is available (URL too) and get it secured,
A website (for this you need a domain name, a hosting company and a website),
A place to collect and store contacts,
A way to email those contacts,
A way to get paid (this can be online or offline depending on your business),
Social Media Account/s – at the very minimum set these up and secure your business name.

4. If it doesn’t work the first time, it doesn’t mean it won’t.

This was a biggie for me. There are plenty on times in the past where I’ve tried something – not really understanding the underlying fundamentals of why it would work and why it might not, and given up before I’d given it a chance to succeed.

I was relying on my gut, with something that was new to me so rather than analysis I’d give up and move on. Fortunately I realised this wasn’t the right way to go about working online and I started to measure, analyse, test and tweak. Instead of replying on my gut I now rely on data. Reports are generated and analysed and action is taken based on the outcomes (see next point).

Two other things that are really pertinent:

things take time, very little happens instantly so patience is a virtue you need, and

just because it works for others doesn’t mean it will work for you in exactly the same way. Be prepared to change things according to your needs.

5. Data Gives You Knowledge and Power

The decisions you make will be a whole lot better when you base them on more than just your intuition or gut. Don’t get me wrong, these do have their place, just not when you’re deciding on what processes and strategies you should be using.

data gives you power and knowledgeThere are many programs you can use to track and measure your numbers. One you should definitely have on your website from the get go is Google Analytics. It’s completely free and contains a wealth of information. Even if you’re not sending traffic to your website yet, get this installed so the data can begin being collected. Then when you are ready, you can make any fine tuning adjustments needed and start making informed business decisions.

Using data and analysis has definitely allowed me to expand my thought process – instead of reverting to my customary response “I don’t think that will work” I now trial things. It’s really freed up my creativity. 

Next step for me is fully implementing tracked links (UTM’s) so I can start to measure the effectiveness of the various traffic sources I use. This is an on-going journey and one I am thoroughly enjoying.

6. Get Your Facebook Pixel Installed

I wish I had installed the Facebook Pixel on my site earlier, and I was one of the earlier ones (Facebook is my favourite Social Media hangout).

The benefits of having the pixel installed are huge. Facebook is the BIGGEST Social Media platform on the internet and it collects an enormous amount of data about it's users. It then allows you to use this data to create targeted audiences for your advertising campaigns (not using Facebook Advertising in your business, click here to get started).

These audiences can be people that have been to your website, you can create look-a-like audiences – you can dig even deeper (if you want) and base your audiences on how much time is spent on a certain page, or you can set it up based on been to this page but not that page. The possibilities are endless. And, you can do the same thing with video based on the % of time watched.

Again, it doesn’t matter if you’re not ready to start advertising on Facebook (or even if you’re not planning to at this stage) – get the pixel on your site so they can start collecting data for you – for when you do need it.

7. Keeping My Contact List Clean and Current

It wasn’t until I did the Ontraport Certified Consultants course that I fully appreciated the importance of keeping my contact list clean and current. Keeping it up to date meant maintaining a more regular posting regime than I was doing, and keeping it clean meant clearing out all of the contacts with emails that were no longer valid, or were no longer engaging with my content.

Good list hygiene is the difference between your emails being delivered to the right people and your emails ending up in the junk or spam folder, or worse still not delivered at all.

It also helps with Social Media platforms now too, as many of them give you the ability to upload your contact list so you can re-target them.

Everything integrates and works together, and this trend will only continue.

Keep you lists clean and never buy lists or likes. You risk ruining your reputation and getting it back is virtually impossible.

8. Naming Conventions

This is something that has raised it’s head recently, that I wish I’d known earlier. I’ve got some work ahead of me getting this sorted out, but once it’s right it will make things so much easier.

Having a clearly defined and easy to use naming system in place from the beginning will help you on so many levels, from tracking and measuring to creating Custom Audiences on Facebook. 

Keeping names consistent across the various platforms you use will also help – that way you’re not relying on spreadsheets (or your memory) to find things.

It’s okay when you’re first starting out because you don’t have that much to remember. But as your site grows, your contact list increases and the number of products or services you offer grows, the more you have to remember and the more difficult it is to keep it in an orderly manner.

Wrapping Up – What I Wish I Knew

One thing I’ve come to realise is everyone’s journey is different. Where I’ve hit hurdles, others have bounded over, and vice versa. It’s what makes this so exciting and keeps it interesting. 

With the speed technology is advancing, it’s difficult to plan your IT strategy too far into the future but you can plan for the next 12 – 18 months, just know that you may need some flexibility. Nothing is set in concrete.

It won’t be until you’re on your path that questions will arise, which invariably will lead to more questions. You can’t always ask the right questions to begin with, because you won’t know what to ask, but don’t let that stop you. Keep asking as you go. The answers will invariably raise more questions, the secret is never stop asking. 

So tell me, what questions has this raised, or what do you wish you’d known when you started your online business journey? Let me know in the comments below.

About The Author

Elly Hurley

Elly is a Co-Founder of Nudge Marketing, a marketing training company owned and run by women showing small business owners how to grow their business by driving traffic, generating leads and building automated marketing funnels to sell their services and products. As a Certified Digital Marketing Professional, Ontraport Certified Consultant and an NLP Trainer, Elly offers a holistic approach to business - possessing both the technical and behavioural knowledge required in this digital age. Visiting Facebook HQ and signing the wall is on her Bucket List.

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