I hear from so many people who have a dream to launch their own business but they haven’t done it yet for lots of reasons. Sometimes they’re waiting for more time. Sometimes they’re waiting for more money. Sometimes they’re waiting until they have more experience. By the time they’re telling me, five or even ten years have gone by and they’re saying ‘it’s too late now’ and so they might never start.
Well I am not happy about this, let me tell you! It is never too late and you have the right to start your own business no matter what your circumstances. I first launched DARETOGROW when I was £100k in debt, crippled with depression and with no clue on ‘how to change your life’. DARETOGROW was my journey out of debt, out of depression and what I learnt in launching the business and learning how to make a living doing what I love became the premise of the business: I learnt by doing and shared what I learnt along the way. My journey is my business.
What if you didn’t have to wait until you had more money or more time? What if you didn’t need to learn anything new because you could learn it by taking action and getting started? What if your business was the vehicle you need to finally change it all around for you?
You see, so often it comes down to ‘waiting’ (when the kids grow up, when I get to this level, when the mortgage is paid off) and the time never comes. Trust me. Every day, even now, I have to proactively get up at 5am just to make 3-4 hours for me and my business before the rest of the world wakes up. In those hours I think, write, develop my course and reply to comments on my social media feeds. I’m typing this blog at 6.33 on Sunday morning. There’s no way I could type it during the day, especially not in the week. I have family, friends, clients, errands, surfing (haha).
When I want to launch something new, I rarely have the cash I need. I just have to go for it and reprioritise my spending week on week to make it happen. For example, when I launch Make Your Move in October, I want to send out PDF booklets to everyone in a lovely ‘welcome box’ (super excited about this!!), with a vision book, some essential reading and a few extra goodies. This will cost a fair sum up front (I need 50 boxes!) and so I have to cut back elsewhere to invest in these boxes, knowing the investment will pay off quickly.
When I started this business 18 months ago I had NO IDEA how to launch an online course and make a living online. Even though I had run a digital marketing agency for four years I didn’t know about courses (how do you structure one, what shall I teach, what platform shall I use, what makes a great video), I didn’t know about Facebook ads, I had never delivered a motivational talk. Each time I just set launch dates or booked events and used those milestones as my motivation to learn and learn fast.
In most cases, the answer is always to stop waiting and to immediately start doing. Make the time as we go. Find the cash when we need it. Learn through doing.
To launch your dream business and start making a living doing what you love the key is to stop waiting and start doing.
But do what? Where do you begin? In this blog, I’m going to give you five places to start.
Immediately start creating
One of the keys to launching your own business is to immediately start creating stuff. This might mean writing your first blog post or designing your first product or service but the key is to move from being a consumer of other people’s content and products to being a creator of your own. This is what business owners do: they create things and push them out to an audience.
Really, I should add ‘they sell things’ but I actually think that your first year in a new business is less about sales and more about community. This is controversial. A lot of consultants and advisors will say ‘year one is all about revenue and market share’ but this is unrealistic and, actually, it’s a dangerous way to think today. Things have changed and people don’t want to be sold to, especially not in this space. They want to buy when the time is right.
Alice, my partner, spent 18 months sharing stories on her social media feeds building a wonderful community of likeminded people. She didn’t know what she wanted to offer as a product or service but guess what…when she did launch her first ever event (a self love and rejuvenation retreat) it sold out in less than 24 hours!!
Immediately start sharing
One of the keys to getting started, especially online, is to start sharing…something, anything. You could write a blog, share top tips, write a story for your Facebook feed, tell a friend, launch VLOG. When launching your business, it’s less about perfection and more about getting started. Things will develop quickly when you do.
I have to tell you, too, that your idea will always be much better in your head than in real life. My vision for my VLOGs is a lot loftier than what I can produce but as I always say, I couldn’t have created episode 27 if I hadn’t have started with episode 1.
My VLOGs are a good example of this actually. In the beginning, I didn’t have a business. I didn’t have a course or details for a coaching service. I just had me, a blog and some ideas. By starting the VLOG about my journey, I was able to start sharing content with people straight away by documenting my journey.
Immediately start connecting
Your business growth relies on your connections. It doesn’t matter whether your connections are in person or online but the truth is you need to build connections in order to grow, so start connecting with people over shared interests. Maybe you’re vegan and can join some vegan Facebook groups. Maybe you love yoga and could sign up to two weekly yoga classes.
The point is to go to things you love so you can connect with people who share your passions, your goals, your ideas. This is the difference between ‘making a living doing what you love’ and just setting up a business to ‘make money’. It’s about attracting the right people to you rather than chasing down your ideal customer. It’s about being authentically you rather than being who you think a customer needs you to be. It’s about doing what you love not what you think you have to. It’s a big shift in business.
Over the last two years I’ve stopped wearing suits and heals and I can’t remember the last time I went to a networking event. I actually find them all really disappointing – the agendas, the pitches, the business cards. Urgh. Now, I wear jeans and boots and backwards caps. I’ve cut my hair short and I meet people surfing, at retreats, through Instagram. It’s amazing!!
My advice here is not to think about people as ‘prospects’ and ‘potential clients’ (again as lots of advisors will tell you to do this!). They’re not prospects…they’re people. They’re part of your community. And one day you might be able to help them by providing a paid service and that’s amazing but nine times out of ten you won’t! 90% of your community will never buy anything from you, especially if you’re building an online business. So, if you think of everyone as a ‘prospect’ you’re going to be very disappointed. But if you think of everyone as being part of your community, you’re going to have a great time!
Immediately craft your proposition
I remember the first time I sat down to design my online course. What a headache!! Where do you even begin with something like that? I’ll tell you where – with a cup of tea, a big felt tip and a blank piece of paper.
It’s going to take you time to develop your service or product and trust me when I say it will not be perfect first time…or the fifth time…or in year three. It will constantly evolve and grow and change as you start crafting it.
My very first online course was 6 x 10 minutes I emailed out to everyone who joined the course, supplemented with 6 live webinars on Sunday mornings. And it was amazing!! But it wasn’t perfect and it was nowhere near my vision for my first online course haha. But it was a starting point and it got me moving. Now, my course is fully online, fully automated and it even has a workbook and a welcome box! I love it! But it’s going to keep getting better and better as I learn and grow. (You can have a peek at it here.)
You don’t have to launch straight away but I think it’s a good idea to have a notebook filled with ideas and questions for your new proposition. Keep all your ideas flooding out so that when you come to ‘build it’, you have a full book of ideas and inspiration.
Immediately set up a bank account
Haha this one is personal to me. I think it’s really important in business to separate your personal finances from your business finances and I would actually recommend setting up your own business bank account. As a sole trader, most people use their personal bank account but how on earth can you keep an eye on what’s coming in an out? How do you know what you can use for shopping vs. what you can use for business supplies? It can get messy very quickly if you muddle it all up and I’m so grateful to have individual business banking accounts for my businesses.
In fact, I’ll let you in on a secret here…when I was 22 I knew I wanted my own business I just didn’t know what it would be! And so, on Christmas eve that year I logged on to Companies House (I didn’t have a clue what I was doing!) and I registered my company ‘LMBT Solutions’, standing for ‘Lisa Marie Bean Training Solutions’ and a few months later I went to the bank to open my first account. I didn’t win any business for months and month (maybe even a year) after that date but it did something for me: it made my dream official. It was a start. I had begun!
I never know what to say to people when they ask ‘should I be a limited company or should I be a sole trader?’ and so my answer is always the same: speak to an accountant, they’ll be able to advise you. I love my accountant, I really do. They’re such a great team and they’ve been with me through thick and thin. Sometimes people won’t approach an accountant because they don’t have a business yet or they think it’s too soon. It’s never too soon to get advise like this. Hop on Google, find a few local accountants and set up some meetings. You’ll grow into a customer for them so they’ll happily meet you to give you some early advice.
Immediately start learning
Boy oh boy is this a big one! Like I mentioned above, I didn’t have a clue about online courses and the like when I first started. I didn’t even know where to start looking! And so I just started exploring. I started searching out new blogs, I followed thought leaders online, I went to training days. Over the course of the last two years I have found soooo many incredible teachers online. I’ve paid for some amazing courses – a two day book writing with best selling author Shaa Wasmund, a four day event in LA with Tony Robbins, a Facebook ads course – but for the most part I’ve just followed a lot of cool people, read their blogs, followed their stories and watched what they’ve done. And that’s okay!
You don’t need to invest tonnes in your learning up front. There are so many free courses and so many great blogs you can follow in the beginning…but here’s the key! Don’t go looking in traditional places. You’re not going to me someone who runs a six figure online at your weekly networking event. Why would they be there? They’re not…they’re online. Seek out thought leaders and online mentors. Buy books from people you love and read their stories. Sign up to vlogs and blogs and arborb as much as you can.
Here’s a good tip for you too…if you want to build an online business, you can learn just as much from ‘watching what I do’ as you can from actually reading the advice I share. How often do I post? What is the mix of content? How do I promote my course? I learnt a lot from observing and analysing what other people did, more so than from joining courses.
A little teaser of what’s to come…
On 2nd October, enrolment opens for my flagship online course ‘Make Your Move‘. AND I AM SOOO EXCITED!!!
I only run this course twice a year and so this is the last chance to join before summer 2018. If you want to learn how to uncover your purpose, change your life and make a living doing what you love then this course will show you it all, start to finish! If you’d like to find out more, click the link below to read the course curriculum. You can also join the waiting list for an advanced opportunity to join: join the waiting list and you’ll have the chance to join the course 24 hours before enrolment officially opens.