With most new businesses failing in the first few years - and nearly all online businesses stumbling along a little longer (female entrepreneurs are the worst for this!) - here are a few things I've learned along the way to help you run a SUCCESSFUL online business... and not a lame liability!
1. You're Going to Change Your Mind
The business idea you launch on Day 1 is NOT the same one you're going to have on Day 45 (once that initial month of excitement and adrenaline has worn off).
The idea you had on Day 45 will have evolved by Month 6.
What you're doing today is not what you'll be doing in 1 Year.
What happens is that we launch with an idea - an idea we think is fucking awesome and exciting and everyone is going to want in on it.
Then at some point during the first couple of months reality kicks in, you take a look around and feel INTIMIDATED by others doing what you want to do... but better. Well, maybe not 'better' - but they've been in the game longer and look sleeker and more professional and it's giving you THE FEAR [tm].
So you pivot.
Then you realise that actually your pivot wasn't what you really wanted to be doing... so you pivot again - and discover that what you're NOW doing gives you the ick and whilst you're good at it... it doesn't fuel your soul and in fact there are a few bits of it you're really reluctant to tackle because you hate them so much.
And... if your business ISN'T evolving month after month, year after year - ugh... haven't you lost the will to live yet?
2. You Don't Give Up
There are going to be hard days and hard weeks.
Days when your audience shrinks, not grows.
Days when you process a bigger refund than income.
Days when a random commentator manages to hone in on your insecurity by pure, blind luck and make you feel like a POS because they're lashing out and hit you where it hurts when you were vulnerable.
And they were just having a bad day - but you were in a vulnerable place and became upset instead of rolling your eyes and swearing...
Days when you dream of sitting at the checkout in the supermarket because then you could leave the job behind when you clock off rather than always having thoughts and ideas pop into your brain 24/7.
Weeks when you create a shit-ton of content and you're just hearing crickets... but know this: PEOPLE ARE WATCHING! - even when it seems they're not.
This is the point where most throw in the towel. "I've written 100 blogs" or "I've posted 500 times to SM and nothing's happening".
You don't give up.
Usain Bolt didn't run sub-10 seconds the first time he put one foot in front of the other.
You keep going... because if you don't? Then you can go and sit over there with all the others who gave up because they thought nobody was looking and that they didn't have the magic elixir (whatever that might be!).
You keep writing that blog every single day because Emma Raducano keeps on hitting that ball even when nobody's watching - because it's her CRAFT!
3. You Show Up
You show your audience who you are - warts and all.
You celebrate the successes... and the hard days.
Anyone who's never wanted to hide beneath the duvet for a day with a good book - or an audiobook when page-turning is just too much effort is a stronger woman than me!
You show your personality - not just some sanitised version of what you THINK your audience want to see - but the REAL you.
Because nobody does you better than you. And I know it sounds trite and like it should be written on a fucking Hallmark card and pinned to your noticeboard or making you sneer and some unicorn-meme - but, it's true.
NOBODY DOES YOU BETTER THAN YOU
You keep showing up. You show up EVERY DAY and share your content EVERY DAY - not just about your business, your services, how you help - but also an insight into your life.
I resisted this for SOOOO long - wanted to be an anonymous worker hidden behind a computer, just showing 'professional'.
Well it sucks. It doesn't appeal to your audience and frankly it's draining and debilitating always censoring yourself and just living HALF a persona.
4. You Yeet the 12 Month Plan to the Moon
12 month plans suck. I mean really. They might work great for bricks & mortar where you're selling a THING and you know what your business/staffing costs are going to be - although well done planning out the last couple of years obviously!
But where's the flexibility? Where's the adventure? Where's the opportunity to sell CAT TOYS this month and YOGA RETREATS next month?
Going back to point 1 - your business is going to evolve - and the online market moves so fast, you need to be agile and move ahead with it to keep up.
Having this agility to form plans quickly and adapt your plans to what is working RIGHT NOW FOR YOU is what's going to allow you to compete with more established businesses who ARE tied down to some god-awful 12 month plan with zero allowance for flexibility... or dare I say it? Enjoyment!
Have your DAILY NON-NEGOTIABLES - these are the tasks you perform EVERY SINGLE FUCKING DAY to 1) market your business, 2) serve your customers, 3) grow your business.
Have a kick-ass week/month/90 Day Plan - but that's enough. More than that is going to drag you down because you're not going to hit all those goals you planned out at the start of that plan - or even worse, you're going to think "I've got 10 months left, plenty of time to catch up on Netflix"... and I'm sure you can envisage how that one goes!
5. Self-Care is Not an Option!
Self-care comes in many forms - and it's not just getting your feet rubbed in a spa hotel!
Looking at the last paragraph of point 4. - having that 12 month inflexible plan is NOT self-care - not if you're a free-thinking, rebellious type filled with excitement, dreams and drive.
Ugh... you may as well just get a lobotomy and call it quits.
For me, self-care means taking my business where I want it to be - NOT where industry trends suggest I should go, not where the others are going, not doing the same as everyone else - but instead - doing what is right for ME!
It means taking off to the beach when the weather is gorgeous and filling my soul by walking barefoot through the sand.
Doing nothing except listening to the waves and the birds, looking for seals and shoving sea-glass and shells in my pockets to add to the collection of Items-I-will-one-day-use-for-crafting.
Self-care is not driving yourself to a burnout because you 'just need to do 6 more things before you close the laptop'.
There will ALWAYS be 6 more things to do. This hour. Today. This week. Next week. Forever.
There is no life where everything is done.
When you've crossed EVERYTHING off your list you can just lie down and wait to die - you're done!
6. You Enjoy the Journey
Because... if you're not enjoying what you're doing - why are you here?