S1 E11: 7 Things I’m Doing Differently in My Business the Second Time Around

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Welcome back to The DollarSprout Podcast.

This is going to be our last episode of season one of the podcast. So first I want to say thank you so much for being here and for listening to the show. It’s been so much fun to create, and I hope you’ve enjoyed and gotten value from this season. And thank you also to the amazing guests that we’ve had on the show so far. Everyone has been very generous with their time and their knowledge. If you haven’t listened to the entire season, definitely go back and check out our previous episodes.

Don’t forget to leave a review of the podcast wherever you’re listening and let us know what you enjoyed about this season and what you’d like to see in season two.

Today’s episode is going to be a little different. We started out the season with a solo intro, just you and me. So I thought we’d end it that way, too.

I’m going to share with you today 7 things that I am doing differently in my business the second time around. Some of them are mistakes that I made and am avoiding in my new business. Some of them aren’t so much mistakes as they are just lessons and wisdom that I’ve picked up along the way. And some are advice from our guests from this season and how I’m implementing their wisdom into my business going forward.

Disclaimer, my business isn’t currently my full-time gig. So this episode isn’t me leading from the front. If anything, I might be a little further along than you are right now. But I’m very much right in the trenches where you might also be, just getting started in my brand new business. My goal is to take it full time, but right now it’s definitely not. Just wanted you to be aware of that upfront.

First, a little background on my first business.

I officially registered my LLC for my business in December of 2017. At the time, I was starting a website and I planned on being a personal finance blogger. My loose plan was to make money with affiliate marketing, ads, sponsored content, that kind of thing.

But did I have any experience with this? Or any proof of concept? Absolutely not.

There was no real strategy, I just had this vague idea of how I thought I could make money.

Long story short, blogging didn’t work out for me. I just didn’t enjoy it. I didn’t like writing affiliate-focused content or really even writing about personal finance. So I decided to switch to financial coaching.

My Bachelor’s degree is in personal financial planning, so I thought this made sense. And I also thought I was only qualified to do things related to personal finance.

Fast forward a few years of working part-time in my business (I was never full-time as a financial coach), in the spring of 2021, so about a year ago, I stopped taking on financial coaching clients. And I decided I wanted to do something different in my business. I wasn’t sure exactly what yet, but I finally accepted what I had known for years, which was that personal finance – be it blogging or coaching – didn’t really light my fire. I didn’t enjoy it.

So I spent the rest of 2021 thinking about what I would actually enjoy doing in my business. And in December, I decided to shift my business toward offering Online Business Management. Online Business Managers, or OBMs for short, help other business owners with project management (like managing a course launch), operations, tracking metrics, and managing teams.

I’ve been doing this in some capacity as a freelancer and at times as a part-time employee for different companies for the last three years. And it’s something that I enjoy. Especially when it comes to streamlining and automating business processes. I nerd out over creating automations and workflows because I just think it’s so cool that we have the technology to do that and it saves so much time.

So anyway, now I’m pivoting – I hate that word, I feel like it got really overused during 2020 – but I am, I’m shifting my business from B2C (business to consumer) with financial coaching to B2B (business to business) with online business management.

So now that you’re caught up a little bit on my business journey and the type of business I’m building, let’s talk about what I’m doing differently in my second attempt to build a business and take it full time.

The first thing I’m doing differently this time around is:

1.   Actually having a plan for how my business will make money.

I mentioned earlier that when I first started my LLC, I didn’t really have a solid business plan or strategy for making money. I knew that affiliate marketing was a thing. And I figured I would just start writing content, adding affiliate links, getting some traffic, and making money. It seemed pretty simple. I didn’t think I needed much more of a plan than that.

And even though I did end up making some money with affiliate marketing, I also hated it. I didn’t enjoy the process, and I had no idea how much time it would take to build a sustainable income.

So I just really didn’t have a plan at all. No financial goals. No projections, not that you always need detailed business plans and projections.

But you probably should have some idea of how you’re going to make money and some goals for how much you want to make over what time period.

So this time, I have that.

My current goal is to reach $7,500/month by September of 2022. Right now, I’m still in the planning/prep phase, so my business is technically at $0/month in revenue. Although I do have a couple of freelance clients that I’m working with that I plan on moving under my business in the next couple of months. Which, according to my accountant, I probably always should’ve had them under my LLC for tax purposes, but that’s neither here nor there.

I’ll also be implementing CEO days in my new business. This is an idea that Raina Willick introduced me to in episode 2 of this season, How to Be the CEO in Your Business, Even If You’re a 1-Person Show. I’ve scheduled the time on my calendar to have a CEO date once a month to take a look at what’s working, what’s not, and to do some strategic planning.

So I have a revenue goal. And I’ve also outlined my initial service offerings so I know exactly how much I need to sell of each one in order to hit my goal.

And that brings me to the second item on our list today…

2.   I’m keeping it super simple.

It can be tempting to have a million different offers in your business. Especially if you’re just starting out, it’s tempting to take on any work that pays.

I’ve seen this happen with business owners that I’ve freelanced for where they just have an hourly rate and they take on any client and any type of work that pays. And that can be really messy, and it can also lead to working with clients or on projects that you don’t enjoy or that aren’t a good fit.

I also did that a little bit in my financial coaching. I tried to create half a dozen ways for people to work with me when really I think the best thing that you can do is start with one.

As Carrie Veach said in episode 5 of this season on How to Overcome the Fear of Starting Your Own Business, start with what feels easier. Take the path of least resistance. And that’s what I’m doing.

The initial service offering that I’m launching my business with is a Systems VIP Day. I’m still putting it together and working out the details with my coach(es). But I definitely will be launching with just ONE service at ONE price point.

That makes tracking and forecasting revenue easier for me. And it also provides a very clear outcome of what my clients can expect when they sign up for my offer.

I’ll probably add additional services or even digital products at some point, but for now, I’m taking the simplest approach possible with one single offer.

3.   I’m launching my business without a website.

Speaking of keeping it simple, item #3 on my list… this time around, I’m not waiting to have a website to launch my business. You don’t always need a website in order to run and make money with an online business. Especially if you are offering a service.

This is something that I knew in my brain, but I really learned in my gut by meeting and talking to MJ. MJ and I did an interview in episode 8  all about how to create a TikTok content strategy that attracts customers and gets sales (something I’m also implementing this time around).

MJ I think technically has a website but doesn’t use it for anything. She creates most of her content on TikTok. And she has a Stan account. The website is stan.store. It’s one of those “link in bio” type apps, but you can use just this one app for booking appointments, selling products and services, offering free downloads to build your email list, creating funnels, all kinds of stuff.

Or you can use a combination of other tools like LinkTree, ConvertKit, Acuity, Dubsado.

The tools themselves don’t matter. The point is you really don’t need a website to start your business. Conventional advice is to move people away from your social media and onto an email list. And a website used to be the main way to do that. But with the tools that exist today, you don’t need a website to build your email list.

A website could be a good marketing tool later on if you want to create blog content or have one place where people can find all of your content and offerings.

But if you’re starting a service-based business like I am, you really don’t need a website. I spent so much time in my financial coaching business creating and customizing my website, researching WordPress themes, choosing the exact right brand colors, I even hired designers to create logos for me. And it was all a waste.

So what am I doing differently if I’m not going to have a website? Word of mouth. In our episode with Jen Smith, she talks about how she used her network from her day job to build her freelancing business, and that’s the route I’m taking.

I’m going to be networking with other business owners, maybe implementing a referral program where if someone refers a client to me, they get a portion of the sale, and honestly, using TikTok.

TikTok has been a really fun tool for me. I saw success getting financial coaching clients on there, so I’m going to be creating content on TikTok and using some of the tools that I mentioned before, none of which require me to have a website.

I do have a domain name though, because I wanted an email with my business name. But no website.

Next item on our list…

4.   I’m implementing a course freeze.

If you know me, then you know that I am a course fanatic. I love to sign up for online courses and take new certifications.

And that’s something I did A LOT in my first business, even to my detriment. I used to sign up for one course and not even get halfway through it before I was onto the next.

I’ve bought so many courses and programs on everything from general business, email marketing, blogging, SEO, courses on how to create courses.

I used to think that I was just obsessed with learning about online business.

And even though that’s true, I do love learning, I also realized over the years that part of why I bought so many courses was because I didn’t trust myself to figure things out on my own.

I thought that someone, somewhere out there, had the secret to success. And all I needed to do was find the right course and I’d be set. But one of the biggest points I took away from my conversation with Pete McPherson in episode 1 is this: There are no rules in entrepreneurship. There’s no one path to success in your business. The perfect blueprint doesn’t exist.

Sure, learning the foundational skills is important. But when it comes down to it, I know that no one can build this business for me. I have to go out there and do it on my own.

So this time I’ve committed to ONE course. I’m taking an online business manager certification program right now. And no more courses for the rest of 2022.

Now, I didn’t NEED to take this OBM program to start my business. You don’t need any certifications to run most online businesses – whether you’re a virtual assistant, graphic designer, freelance writer, online business manager – you can start many different online businesses with no degree or certification at all.

But I decided to take this one for a few reasons:

  1. I feel so much more confident when I’ve had formal training in a subject matter. So I know I’m going to be able to confidently sell my services now because I did not just any training, but a really good training on being an online business manager. The second reason I decided to take this course is
  2. It comes with A LOT of support. The program I’m taking is 6 months long. And the entire second half of it is training, coaching, and support around building your business. Based on my past experience in my business and knowing I want to go full-time with my business by the end of 2022, I decided that I really want the support. And the third reason I took it is because
  3. It’s in my budget. It was an investment. But I had the money to do it. I didn’t have to put it on a business credit card. I was in a position where I was able to pay for it in upfront, in cash. I do NOT recommend going into debt to build your business, whether it’s for training, materials, or whatever.

Obviously, not everyone feels that way. But if you’re new to business, you’ve never run a business or worked for yourself before, then going into debt for something you don’t know if you can do or if you’ll even want to do for very long, is a very risky move.

And that brings me to our next item on the list of what I’m doing differently in my new business…

5.   I’m selling first, then building.

Melody Johnson shared this piece of wisdom in episode 10: “Don’t build it and they will come. Sell it and they will buy.”

Melody was specifically referring to a course, but it applies to really anything in your business. Sell something in your business upfront to validate your idea. Don’t waste time building a product or service that you don’t even know if you can sell.

Which, admittedly, is what I did in my first year of business. I spent MONTHS creating a group coaching program and several different online courses.

No one ever signed up for the group coaching program, and I think about 5 people bought ONE of my courses.

This time, I’m doing it the other way around. I know what my service offering is, but I’m not going to spend time creating the perfect system or the perfect client onboarding process (even though that one is very tempting; I do love systems and automations).

I have an outline of the offering. I’m going to sell it (probably at a “founding price” – lower than what I would eventually like it to be). And I’ll build it out as people buy.

So not only does it save me time and prevent me from creating something that no one wants to buy, but it also allows me to get started and actually make money quicker. Because building things, I’ve learned – a website, a program, a course, etc. –  is also an easy way to avoid the things we really don’t want to do in our business – like selling.

6.   I’m unfollowing tactical-style podcasts and leaning into my creative side.

This one is inspired by two podcast interviews from this season. The first was episode 3 with Jeremy Enns: How to Never Run Out of Ideas for Your Content or Business.

Jeremy is such an inspiring and creative person. He gave so much great advice in that episode, but what stuck out to me the most was his take on creativity in business. Jeremy says that the thing that sets your business apart is unique and novel ideas. It’s the specific way you solve a problem or explain a solution or concept.

And, as Jeremy said, those ideas don’t come from consuming tactical-style content.

That type of content can be useful if you’re just starting your business or learning about a new subject. But it’s not great for inspiring your own unique ideas and content.

What Jeremy suggests, and what I’m doing more of now, is consuming content that inspires you, that makes you think in new and different ways. I’ve personally stopped listening to business podcasts because my brain just feels swollen with information from all the years of listening to and reading that type of content (most of which I never took action on, by the way).

So now I’m listening to and looking for the opposite. Content that feels fun and inspiring and makes me think differently. That doesn’t necessarily mean fiction, although I do plan on reading more of that.

But right now I’m actually reading a book about creativity recommended by Lexi Merritt in episode 7 about How to Launch Your First Online Course in the Simplest Way Possible.

Lexi is another creative entrepreneur who is just so inspiring. In our conversation, she recommended the book The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. I’d heard of the book before, and I’d even tried one of the exercises, Morning Pages, a couple of times. But I never really stuck with it.

Now I’ve picked it up, I’m reading it and going through the exercises each week. And it’s amazing. I’m only two weeks into the program in the book, and I’ve already come up with so many new ideas. And I also feel like I’ve been generally less anxious and more productive just from doing daily Morning Pages.

Before, when I was listening to mostly tactical-style content, I felt so much pressure to do everything. To try every strategy, create a course, launch a membership, learn Facebook ads, etc. etc.

Now that I’m not listening to that type of content, I don’t feel that same pressure. I feel so much more relaxed and free to experiment in my business.

Which brings me to our final item on the list today…

7.   I’m treating everything like an experiment.

This was another piece of advice from Lexi Merritt in episode 7, and it’s been a huge mindset shift for me.

It’s hard not to take things personally in your business, especially when you’re the face of your business. You’re the one showing up on camera on TikTok or pouring your heart out to your email subscribers.

This is the mindset that’s helped Lexi (and is now helping me) not take things so personally. Treat everything like an experiment.

Everything you do – from creating a TikTok video to launching a course to writing a blog post – has variables. The lighting, hook, camera angle, sales page, tone of the writing – all variables. All of it impacts how your content is perceived or whether or not your audience buys.

That means YOU aren’t the only variable. So if people don’t like your video or buy your course, it’s not personal.

Treat it like a science experiment. Change the variables one at a time and see how it impacts the outcome.

This has been a really helpful mindset shift for me. In the past, I’ve been terrified of putting myself out there and being seen online. Especially by anyone I know in real life. What a nightmare, right?

But this idea of treating everything you do in your business like an experiment has freed me up mentally and emotionally to put out more content, on TikTok and through this podcast, and not be emotionally tied to the outcome.

So thank you, Lexi, for this perspective shift and for sharing all your wisdom.

Thank you to all of the guests who made this season possible. And thank you to you listening to this on the other end. I’m so grateful to have been a part of your day today.

I hope this season has had as big of an impact on you and your journey as it has on me and mine. Thanks so much for being here, for spending your time with me this season, and I’ll see you in season 2.