I started my business halfway through 2016, so it’s been over five years, which is crazy when you think about it. I’m sharing some tactical things as well as strategies, but also focusing on personal lessons I’ve learned too, which I’m hoping you can relate to and find helpful! I can’t wait to share these lessons with you and hopefully help you with your online business journey.
#1 The Importance Of Self Care
The first thing I learned is that self-care is important – even when you love what you do. It’s so easy to get lost in the hustle and want to spend all day in front of your computer. What I learned is that I have to time block spaces on my calendar for self-care and ‘me time’ so that I didn’t get lost in my to-do list and end up working all the time. It’s very different from a 9-5 job because it can be really difficult to switch off in the evenings, for me at least.
Self-care is not only about meditation and taking time to relax, but also scheduling time to move your body and take care of your physical health too. It’s difficult to do, I’m struggling with it (I love lying on the couch). I love to walk but I’m not doing enough of it and I know that not exercising enough can cause health problems, so it’s really important. As wellness entrepreneurs, we all know this and are aware of it, so we need to practice what we preach!
#2 Have Hobbies/Pets
It may sound funny, but I’m sure a lot of you can relate; getting a dog changed my life in such an amazing way. I don’t have a partner or children, so I went through a stage of spending way too much time by myself. Now don’t get me wrong, I love spending time with myself because I’m an introvert – I’m my favorite person to spend time with, as it should be – but it could get a little bit too much.
Getting a dog is obviously not the same as having great friends, but it really helped me and it’s so much fun. It brings structure into my day – walking and playing with Luna is definitely a nice break. If you’re not a pet fan, I would recommend getting a hobby that you can do just for fun and that you enjoy doing. Not everything you do needs to be monetized – you are allowed to do things just because you enjoy them! You could paint, make music, dance – anything that enriches your life besides work is really important.
#3 Mindset Is Everything
When I started my business I thought there was no way I would have any mindset issues – I couldn’t have been more wrong. I had money mindset issues, I was talking to myself negatively, struggling to show up on video, and not stepping up in my business. I realized that you can’t compare being in a 9-5 to running your own business and being an entrepreneur. Nothing that I’ve done before like studying and working in advertising really prepared me for all the mindset issues that you face when you become a business owner.
Mindset is also about listening to your body and to yourself about the ACTUAL reason behind that block. For example, sometimes I would tell myself that I was tired because I was subconsciously avoiding doing something on my to-do list that day. So now, if I really am tired, of course, I take a break and maybe rearrange things I had planned, but first, I ask myself if I’m really tired or if I’m hungry, dehydrated, need a walk, or if I just am having a slow day. This allows me to either fix the feeling of being tired or be kinder to myself by accepting the fact that I’m having a slower day.
Mindset is something that you continuously need to work on as an entrepreneur – no matter how many books you read or courses you do, you’re never done with it, you always have to face those things and be aware of mindset blocks.
#4 Don’t Be Scared To Invest
Investing is something you continuously have to do in your business, and not being willing to invest can be a huge mindset block. Don’t get me wrong, it can be really hard, especially when you’re first starting out, but you may need to invest in courses, a coach, in your education and so on, to actually get your business to where it needs to be. Yes, there’s free content everywhere, but it will take you a lot longer, and you will have different advice and opinions from pretty much everyone you go to, so you won’t know what advice to follow.
At the same time, you need to be careful with your money and not spend recklessly. I have a very detailed Excel file with all my expenses, my income streams for the next 12 months – I know what money is going out. I plan what money is going to come in too, so there are no nasty surprises.
#5 It Doesn’t Have To Be Perfect
Perfectionism is the worst thing that can happen to you when you’re an entrepreneur. I’m a little bit of a perfectionist, or maybe I’m more stubborn – but I want things just the way I want them. This can really stop your progress right away. You don’t want to put out low-quality things and have an outdated website with lots of mistakes on it because this will reflect badly on the quality of your teaching. But, on the other hand, it doesn’t have to be fancy and have all the bells and whistles. Find a middle ground that you can live with, and then consider working with a coach to decide what things you should really focus on.
I also believe that it’s really important to keep things simple. You don’t need this perfect product suite with five different online courses, a membership, weekly classes, Top Level Mastermind, and all the things in your business. Believe me, I tried that. What I recommend is that you have one online program or course and then you sell it at least three times. After that, you can put it on evergreen. If you really want to, you can create another program, but otherwise, really keep it simple. Keep your business simple, because there are so many things involved and it can become overwhelming very quickly.
#6 Create A Signature Offer
I believe that creating a signature offer and becoming known for something specific is the best thing you can do for your online business. For example, if you’re the only yoga teacher in a small town, it’s not as important to niche down because you’re the only one, and people who live there will come to you because of convenience, word of mouth, etc. When/if you move all that online, and you want to teach all kinds of yoga, and offer everything, it’s just not going to work as well as when you really niche down and become known as the expert in something.
Google also really loves websites that are specific. For example, if you have a blog with vegan recipes, that’s okay, but it’s generic. Consider taking it a step further and do something like vegan Vietnamese recipes, so when someone is looking for a recipe and they come to your website, they’re instantly going to know that this is the go-to place for vegan Vietnamese recipes. They’ll no doubt get lost in all of your other posts and read all of your recipes, maybe even share them with their friends! Google is going to see that people spend a lot of time on your website, that they’re really engaging with your content, and Google will start classing your website as an authority.
#7 Don’t Rely On Social Media
It’s so easy to think that the most important thing for your business is to post on Instagram four or five times every week, and people prioritize this. I believe that instead you should create content that permanently lives on your website and has longevity FIRST. Since starting my business, I’ve created a content library simply by sharing content every single week. There are blog posts from 2017 that still get me hundreds of website views nearly every day – they are evergreen. You should start with the content that lives on your website and then repurpose it for social media.
It’s also risky to rely on social media because a lot of platforms change their algorithm regularly, and can actually shut down or disappear – you don’t own anything. Even Facebook groups started to hugely drop in engagement because paid posts were being promoted so much that no one saw your post. I still like social media, I think it’s an amazing free tool that we have and allows us to share a bit of our personality and build a connection with people, but I don’t rely on it. I treat social media as a tool in my toolbox, but it’s not a huge part of my business.
#8 Don’t Be Scared Of Tech
You might think I have it all figured out because I build websites and sell online courses, but my background was in project management and I didn’t design anything or create websites back then. When I was employed, I was working with people who did all those things.
I still remember when I signed up for my first website hosting account and built my own website from scratch – I felt so empowered that I was actually able to do it. You don’t need a system admin, a developer, and all these other people. You can do this, you don’t have to be good at tech, just take it one step at a time. It’s never been easier to build a website or create an online course because we have all of these amazing tools now that can help us.
#9 You Don’t Need To Be THE Expert
Sometimes I think “who am I to do this?” and “who am I to teach people?”, and have major imposter syndrome – which I’m sure some of you will be familiar with. What I’ll say to this is that you just need to know a little bit more than your students. Of course, you need to have some level of expertise in order to teach people.
You want to be an expert but you don’t need to put so much pressure on yourself. You don’t need to know it ALL. You don’t need to do another training and keep putting things off because you feel like you’re not ready. Trainings can be inspiring and fun, but if you keep signing up for them because you’re scared of putting yourself out there then that’s when you need to stop buying, and just make a start on your own business.
#10 Being Real Always Pays Off
Every time I share something that is a bit vulnerable I get a lot of positive feedback. Showing up live on video and doing free trainings also allows people to see me teach, which builds a connection. I’ve learned that you can’t hide behind your brand.
Rebranding to my name was a game-changer, I started this business as “Happy Yoga Marketing” and now it sounds ridiculous. Before I rebranded to use my full name, I had fears about the German spelling of my name, and also feared having to really show up. When your full name is on everything it feels a lot more personal than with a brand name.
But it’s important! Show up as you, be real, share bits and pieces about your personality. People need to get to know you and feel like they can relate to you as a person. I have a podcast episode about how to choose your brand name which I’ll link here for anyone who may be stuck on naming their business.
And there you have it! 10 things I’ve learned about building an online business over the last 5 years. It’s been quite a journey, and it’s amazing to share all of these life/business lessons that I’ve learned with you.