More than 20 years have passed since I startd out in the online space, and I’d like to share in this post a few thoughts and my experience so far. I’m 36 years old now, and still constantly – DAILY – learning whatever I can about entrepreneurship, but I think I’ve already started to grasp a few things valuable for someone in the early stages.
Of course, everybody needs to grow as a person and as a professional – and often it doesn’t help when somebody gives you a series of tips from their experience, as you either don’t believe them, don’t listen to them, or don’t execute on their advice.
For what it’s worth, though, here are a few things I’d do differently if I had to start out today from scratch:
Whatever is simple is easier to manage and easier to understand. For years, I had been growing my business by accepting to work on things I had never done before – month after month. This was great to collect experience, but at the same time made things a lot more complicated.
A good rule of thumb to start out is:
Find one type of client and sell 1 product or service to them.
This will allow you to set up a clear process on how you deliver – and for clients, it’s very easy to understand whether your offer is going to bring value to their business or not.
First, have an offer that converts
This isn’t my thought, I learned this from James Schramko, my mentor who I have been working with more and more throughout the last few years.
Very often we get lost in everything we set up to present our business, our brand, etc. and at the same time, we might not have enough proof yet that our idea or our offer is really worth pursuing.
Focus first on coming up with an offer that converts – meaning there are enough people showing (with their wallet or credit card) that they find your offer carries enough value to justify purchasing it. Don’t think the first sale already is enough – aim for 33 sales and you’re good to go.
Also, aiming for a higher number gives you an idea about whether your offer is scalable.
Scale right from the start
Once you have an offer that has been showing to be able to convert multiple times, aim to scale it on an international level, right from the start. Too long have I been moving within the same province and later the same country with an offer I was then able to scale internationally, from Spain to Austria, from Australia to the United States and Asia.
Build a team early
It’s so easy to have a virtual team in the online space – don’t wait too long to build it. I, too, have been doing everything by myself for years at the beginning – but it wasn’t until I started to let go of certain tasks, that I could finally reduce the number of hours I was working, and leverage other people’s knowledge who, very often, did a much better job than I did.
Focus on the numbers + profit
One more thing I’d like to share and, which I certainly failed completely to follow during many years, is to focus on your business’ numbers and especially on profit. My love for SEO and marketing tools, together with a huge number of projects I started and invested in but then didn’t have the time to pursue appropriately, led to a huge amount of money practically getting lost.
If you start out, follow the Profit First method from day one, and thus guarantee that your business is going to be profitable right from the start.
Count on 5-10 years
I’ve always been – by nature – quite impatient. So I expected results to come instantly, within days or a few weeks – but they won’t.
The best businesses have been around for years, maybe 10 or 15, until they have a break-through or are able to grow their business much faster.
I’ll be definitely amplifying this list in the future as I discover more interesting points that I think would be important to know for someone starting out today, so maybe come back to this article in the future if you like.