8 Things We Wish We Knew Before Starting our Business
We are now two years in and entrepreneurship has been a journey full of twists and turns, ups and downs, and a whole lot of lessons. Today, we share eight of the most important lessons we’ve learned during our own founder’s journey with Namastream (and our new Soulful MBA business community). We hope these lessons give you a little insight into what to expect as you continue upon your own journey in business — both online and offline.
Growing our team has been more challenging that we realized. We are super happy now with our small, but mighty, crew — but this has been a (relatively) long road for us. Initially, we were eager to seek out the best “talent” we could find — but papered credentials don’t always make for a great culture fit. We’ve got a female leadership team. We take our family time seriously. We deeply value self care. We prize a sort of gentle ambition. We care about design. And a sense of humor. We’d all enjoy having a glass of wine together or taking a Saturday morning yoga class. If you don’t fit this profile, you might not be a good fit for Team Namastream. We know that now and it has been a powerful lesson for us.
The Importance of Growing a List
Have you ever heard someone say the money’s in the list? Well, we wish we had paid closer attention to that statement when we first started. Growing and nurturing an email list makes it possible for you to scale your business online. It builds a sense of community and trust. And having a large and strong community is directly linked to sales. It’s never too early (or too late) to start building and growing your email list.
One of the biggest ways to grow your list is to communicate consistently. A great phrase to describe this is to nurture your readers. Once you get someone on your list, nurture them so they grow into an adoring fan or follower (you can never have too many of those!).
Nurturing means sending frequent and consistent communication. But it can’t be just any communication. Quality is extremely important. Send information that is helpful and relevant to your readers. It should be aligned with your core teachings and values, and ultimately, will set them up to purchase your future offering. Lesson learned: set up a content calendar and stick to the schedule. Don’t wait until you have something to sell to people before you contact them.
Understanding Sales Funnels
The infamous sales funnel. Are you shutting done at the mere sound of internet marketing jargon? Don’t want to channel your inner used-car salesperson? Do you believe that sales funnels something for large internet marketers? If there is one thing you need to understand, it’s your sales funnel.
A sales funnel is the sequence of events from first contact to purchase. It’s the path that a new lead (potential client or customer) is taken along from stranger to paying client. Where does she first learn about you? What does she click on? Where does she give you her email (or does she)? How many times does she visit your site before purchasing?
Mapping this funnel out early can make a big difference to how many conversions you get (yes, more sales jargon) versus no sales at all. This is worth diving into, drawing it out and paying lots of attention to it.
Lesson learned: Sometimes you need to dive into something that isn’t particularly interesting (like sales funnels) to reach your bigger dream.
Mastering copywriting is paramount to your success. Your readers are bombarded with information everyday and, regardless of how great a teacher or coach you are, if you do not grab their attention with compelling copy immediately, you’ve lost them.
Every move you make online requires something written. You write for your blog and social media posts, newsletters, and email subject lines. Even the words you write for opt-in buttons on your website need thought behind them.
When we started, we had no idea how much writing is required and we wish we had been more aware of this crucial skill and started learning it earlier.
Lesson learned: Copywriting is a skill worth investing in.
The Law of Empty Shelves
When we worked in our previous careers, we both dreamed of days where we could spend our time as we wanted. We didn’t want to have to be anywhere. We craved the freedom to choose how we organized our days. If we felt the urge to go for a run or a yoga class, we could do it. We were in control of our time.
After we transitioned into online business and working from home, our time was our own and we got exactly what we wished for. But you know what happened? Just like an empty shelf in your house never stays empty, open blocks of time quickly filled up with tasks for the new business.
We still had to consciously make time to move our bodies. It didn’t happen as spontaneously as either of us had imagined.
Lesson learned: No matter who controls your time, you or someone else, you need to plan and prioritize important tasks (including exercise and other forms of self care).
How Long it Realistically Takes to Make Money
There is a misconception that anything online makes a lot of money. QUICKLY. This is so, so wrong. While it’s true that there is no ceiling to your earning potential, it takes time and effort to scale your business to a point where you’re supporting yourself. There is no shortage of stories of people who did $200,000 launches and make a $1 million dollars in their first year of business, but this is the exception — not the rule. Sometimes it’s years before you really experience the freedom you desire, so you’ve got to find joy in the journey.
Lesson learned: It takes time to make money online, so plan accordingly.
The Roller Coaster of Emotions
OMG, this is amazing! I just had five people buy my program today. I can’t believe it. All this hard work has really paid off and I am soooo glad that I made this move. I’m going to make millions and my husband can retire early.
The following week, you are singing a different song…
OMG, what have I done? I am absolutely useless at this and why in the world did I think that I could make money selling my work online? I should have stayed right where I was. I can’t do this. Everyone else is so much better than me and I just don’t know how to make this work.
These two opposite sentiments are the high highs and the low lows of entrepreneurship. Your emotions can range from flying high to down in the dumps. And brace yourself, because you continually oscillate between these two extremes.
When you put yourself out there, it can be thrilling and terrifying and this never seems to end. It’s best to acknowledge the place you are on this rollercoaster and give it some time.
Lesson learned: Embrace the journey. It’s worth it.
Want to learn more about these lessons we’ve learned from our first two years in business? Join us on Thursday (July 7th) at 10:00 a.m. PST for a free live training on this topic. Sign up here.
Originally published at namastream.com on July 6, 2016.