Most of my clients start their businesses because they want more freedom.
They no longer want to work 40 or 50 or 60 hours a week. They want more control over their future, their schedule… and their paycheck. And they want to do work they’re incredibly passionate about.
But making the transition to entrepreneurship can come with a pretty steep learning curve.
Many new business owners weren’t responsible for accounting, marketing, and customer service at their last job.
Now they have to wear all the hats, so they throw themselves into learning everything they can all at the same time. They’re not afraid to go all in—and I absolutely love them for this!
They take courses on Facebook Live, sit through webinars about sales funnels, read books on running live challenges, listen to podcasts about Instagram ads, go to conferences on blogging… and on and on.
Then they try to sort through all the conflicting advice about what they’re learning.
Do they only need to be on one social media platform or do they have to master them all? Is it best to blog a few times a week or weekly? Should they pitch podcasts or try to get quoted in popular magazines?
And what usually happens after they’ve sunk thousands of dollars into learning all of these strategies and tactics?
They still have a lot of questions and still feel very, very stuck—like all their hard work will never pay off.
When they come to me, wondering why their business hasn’t taken off and they’re on the verge of burnout, I tell all of them the same thing.
You don’t need more tactics. In fact, they’re just slowing you down.
Instead, you need this:
You need one proven plan
All the tactics in the world won’t move the needle forward if you don’t have one clear, overarching, strategic plan to grow your business.Click to TweetAll the tactics in the world won’t move the needle forward if you don’t have one clear, overarching strategic plan to grow your business.
That’s because creating a successful business on your terms doesn’t depend on how good you are at live video or how many times your latest blog post got pinned.
You don’t have to master every social media platform (I don’t even bother with Pinterest! or LinkedIn!) or understand all the statistics Google Analytics is showing you.
Those are all just tactics, and they aren’t designed to create a successful, sustainable business—especially when you’re impatiently jumping from one strategy to the next because you’re not seeing the immediate results you want.
But, when you have one clear, strategic plan, that’s when you start to notice a difference. That’s when building a business you love becomes easier.
Here’s the good news:
I have a proven, seven-step plan that has helped hundreds of my clients start and grow their businesses.
The best part? It doesn’t involve any tactics. Just seven simple steps.
Step #1: Know what you do and who you help
Most people get building their business wrong from the beginning.
Before they even start trying different strategies and working with clients, they make one very critical mistake.
They think about what the market wants, what’s “hot” right now, and what people want to buy instead of what they love to do, who they love working with, and how they love helping people.
I promise you, no matter how trendy something is, if you’re not passionate about it, if it’s not something that lights you up everyday, you’re never going to love your work!
You’re the one running your business so build it around you!My Personal Recommendation for YouMy Step-by-Step Method for Quickly Explaining What You Do
Step #2: Create an offer your ideal client will love
If you know me even just a little bit, you’ll know I always recommend starting with one-on-one services and what I call a bite-sized offer.
In fact, I only work with people who are offering one-on-one services in Make It Work Online.
Why do I do that? Especially when courses and group programs have the potential to make more money more quickly?
Because it is absolutely soul-crushing to spend months creating a program and promoting it only to have zero signups. Nothing will make you question yourself more than a failed launch!
And I never want my clients to feel this way.
So, before you jump into group programs and courses, create a small offer (most of my clients have success with 90-minute sessions and quick follow-up sessions a few weeks later) and price it so it’s an easy yes. $99 is a good starting point.
Here’s why this is so fantastic: After you work with a few clients, you’ll learn what’s working, what your clients really want, how they’re describing their problems, and you’ll adjust your offer.
I call this the learn and serve method.
Not only does it allow you to easily gain experience (and get paid for it!), but you also build trust with your clients (and people buy from people they trust).My Personal Recommendation for YouOffers That Convert
Step #3: Set a routine
I’m a scheduling ninja. I created a whole new scheduling system for my clients last year, and they absolutely loved it!
I’ve found that having a set schedule helps you prioritize your work and create boundaries so you’re not working at 8 p.m. when all you want to be doing is watching The Good Place.
And a good schedule will keep you focused so you’ll never have to wonder what you should be working on when.
If you don’t already have a schedule, don’t worry. Creating one is actually pretty easy! All you have to do is pick a calendar system that works for you (I like iCal, but you can use Google Calendar, Asana, or even one of those big wall calendars you hang in your office).
Block off personal time, admin time, and client time to start. Then, work on what you’ve scheduled during that time slot.
Yep, it’s really that simple!
Step #4: Get clients
Now that you have a schedule, you need to fill that time you’ve got blocked off for working with clients!
This is where a lot of people get stuck.
They’re afraid to put themselves out there so they hide behind admin tasks like bookkeeping all day. Or they’re trying out way too many different strategies so they have no idea what’s really working.
But getting clients isn’t that hard!
If you’re consistent with your client-getting activities, whichever ones you choose, you will get clients. I promise!
There are two different ways to approach this: what I call the one-and-done activities and the ongoing activities.
The one-and-done activities are things like emailing friends, family, and colleagues to tell them about your business; including a section in your weekly newsletter that talks about your services; and mentioning what you do in your email signature.
That last one worked for me. When I was just getting started, my dog walker hired me after I emailed her from my business account!
Then, you pick three to five marketing activities that feel good for you and do them every single week.
Here’s just a few of the ways you can go about this:
- Be of service in Facebook groups and other social media networks where your target clients hang out
- Give people free, mini taster sessions
- Guest post
- Network, in person or online
- Ask past clients for referrals.
Whichever client-getting activities you pick, remember that you have to do them consistently for them to work. You can’t pitch one guest post and be done!
Marketing your business is always ongoing. That’s why you scheduled client-getting time on your calendar!Click to Download21 Winning Ways to Book Yourself Fast
Step #5: Keep your web presence up-to-date
You’re probably surprised that updating your website is so far down the list!
That’s because a lot of my clients use this step as a stalling tactic so I always make sure they’ve got their foundation set before we even get here.
Don’t get me wrong—having an online presence is important, but it should never come before client-getting activities. Those client-getting activities are what will drive people to your website!
And, when they get there, you want to have all the right pieces in place to keep people on your site and (hopefully!) get them on your newsletter list.
Some of the elements you’ll want to pay attention to are your home page, about page, services page, blog, newsletter, contact page, opt-in offer, squeeze page, email autoresponders, and social media profiles.
It’s a lot, I know. So to keep you from getting stuck, I want to tell you this: There is no right thing to start with. You might want to update your about page or your opt-in offer. You might feel like it’s best to focus on blogging consistently and sending out a weekly newsletter.
And that’s okay!
Just focus on one thing at a time. Work on one item and finish it before you move on to the next.
Jumping around and trying to do everything all at once is just like cycling through all those tactics—nothing’s going to stick and you’re going to lose motivation pretty fast.
Step #6: Overcome fear and create a success mindset
As you’ve taken action on Steps 1 through 5, have you been thinking, “I’ll never figure this out”?
Or, “This is so hard!”
Maybe even, “I really suck at this!”
This kind of crappy, negative thinking is really common, especially when you’re just starting out, so please know you’re not alone. You’ve got to work on your mindset consistently to make your business work.
I’ve seen talented business owners struggle just because they let their fears get the best of them. They believe they aren’t good enough, and they stay in their comfort zone because talking about their business and opening themselves up to rejection and criticism is scary.
Yes, being more visible can be downright terrifying!
But you can totally manage that fear and discomfort, especially when you understand that it’s all part of being a business owner.
When I was just starting out, I worked on my mindset for an hour every single day. An hour!
You might be thinking, “Jenny, that sounds like a lot. I don’t have time for that.”
But I know it’s the reason I was able to get comfortable being uncomfortable and grow my business.
For an hour every day, I would write down all the crappy thoughts I was having. I would ask myself if they were true and if I had any proof they were true. Then, I’d reframe each one of those thoughts into something more positive and helpful.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you’re doing something new, like growing a business or launching a new service. That’s why I still do mindset work, so I can foster growth for myself and for my business.
If you don’t already have a regular mindset practice, I recommend starting one now before your crappy thoughts stop you.
Step #7: Keep going
The last step of your plan isn’t really a step. But it’s one of the most important things you have to do: Don’t stop! Don’t give up!
You have to keep going. You have to consistently show up, put yourself out there, get new clients, keep your online presence up-to-date, tackle your fears, and always remember your dream of having a successful online business.
To do this, I recommend having a keep-going plan. (Can you tell I like having a solid plan?)
Two of the major elements of your keep-going plan include making and tracking your goals and progress, and following through on every step of your plan.
This level of commitment and willingness to stick to it, even when things get a little rough, is what it takes to be a successful business owner.
As long as you have a plan, like this one, you can build a business you love. I’m planning on it!