Do you dream of starting your own profitable online business? Do you know the majority of business fail in their first year because new business owners all make the same mistakes? What if you could learn from the mistakes that others have previously made to ensure that you have a better chance of success? The good news is you can! I first started my coaching business back in 2013, when I returned to Brisbane to visit my family and due to unforeseen circumstances; I had to stay on for the entire year. I took the opportunity to start my own online coaching business. It was difficult, and that was an understatement. I spent much of my time frustrated as to why I wasn’t getting the results I desired. I only had a handful of clients and a few readers on my blog. Looking back over my business experience in 2013, I made some critical mistakes that the majority of people make when they are in the same position. In 2014, I returned to London and had to go back to my former career, I was disillusioned, but I was determined to make my business work. I kept it going on the side as a passion project. Through the course of 2014 and 2015, I become aware of the decisions I made and ways to correct them to ensure, I didn’t continue having the same experience. What are the three most critical mistakes that most first-time business owners make, and how can you fix them?
Mistake #1: I tried to be all things to all people.
I went into the wonderful world of coaching all wide-eyed and optimistic with a burning desire to help people to create a life they loved. This phrase was my very first tagline for my blog. Notice, how when you read a tagline like ‘create a life you love’ it doesn’t define what am about, who I am helping, or the solutions I can provide to my audience, by been generic and attempting to appeal to everyone I was actually turning people away. The bounce rate on my blog was high because people didn’t make a deep connection with my services, my content, or me. The ironic thing about getting specific and narrowing down in a niche is readers feel like you are writing for them, and only them; this feeling of ‘she’s speaking directly to me’ is what makes people join your mailing list, bookmark your site, follow you on social media. In 2015, I defined my target audience, and my niche and more people have joined my list, liked my Facebook page, and my bounce rate has reduced.
The Quick Fix:
So how do you define your target market? In marketing, this is referred to as creating an ideal client avatar. I went through this process as a part of creating a business plan. At this point, I had already decided what type of online business I wanted to create, which was an online coaching based business. The first thing I did in my business plan was to decide what I believed about coaching and the solutions it could provide for people. I defined my company’s core values, and then I created my ideal client avatar. I defined my ideal client’s gender, age range, what they wanted out of life, and her core values; and I gave my client a fictional name. The decision to name my client made her seem real and helped me to create more targeted content. After defining these crucial traits, I was able to generate a list of my ideal clients top 10 problems that my ideal client was facing. As a part of the marketing aspect of my business plan, I defined the types of social media site that she loved and why. The reason my ideal client would like these sites was hinted at in the list of top 10 problems I created earlier. As a result of taking the time to define all of these things about my ideal client, I was able to define the types of products that my business would sell and create more strategic content, like this post. After making all of these changes, I have seen an increase of 25% in the number of email subscribers, and they have been the most engaged.
Mistake #2: Inconsistency
The second biggest mistake I made was with my blog, and to be perfectly honest it’s a habit that I can slip back into quite easily. This mistake was being inconsistent with my blogging content because my audience was relatively small, I didn’t take it seriously, even as I write the first draft of this post, it makes me cringe just seeing the words on the page, and I have an urge to delete this entire section. However, no matter what size audience you have it’s important to remember, that your blog is your marketing tool, and you write for these people who are waiting for your content. That’s why they signed up to your email list in the first place. Keep generating content for that handful of people consistently, because consistency creates a sense of trust, and once people trust you to show up and deliver valuable free content, they will start to trust you enough to buy the products you are selling. Without this trust, you are simply blogging for those people who are surfing the Internet while in meets, at lunch, between stops on the train home.
The Quick Fix:
Being consistent means you need to define how many posts you will create each week and what days, then stick to it religiously like a monk in a monastery does with his Morning Prayer ritual, show up and do it no matter what. If, like me, you struggle with inconsistency create an editorial calendar for the next 3, 6, or 12 months. I recently watched an episode of Marie TV where Marie Forleo shared tips she had learned while generating content for her YouTube channel. In this video, she hinted that she generates her content in batches. I think this is a great idea and one that many successful people use. Use the editorial content to play and write up content in advance, and then auto-schedule it on your blog. This one quick fix will put a stop to those lazy days where you are feeling lazy, disillusioned, or simply what to procrastinate.
Mistake #3: I didn’t understand marketing
The next biggest mistake I made was with marketing. I had no idea what marketing was; In fact, I had a negative view of marketing. I thought marketing was sleazy, like those telephone salespeople, or those info-commercials that are on TV late at night, selling things you don’t need that don’t live up to expectation. I chose to focus on the features of my coaching packages. The truth is no one buys coaching or products they buy a solution to a problem. No one wakes up thinking ‘I want to buy a 3-month coaching package.’ People buy services and products because they recognise they have a problem and believe that the service or product will give them that solution, and this is what marketing is really all about. It’s not about exaggerating or lying. It’s about explaining that this product or service will solve this problem. People make decisions either to bring more pleasure into their lives or to avoid a pain they are currently experiencing, and marketing to an audience correctly helps them make better decisions, which results in happier clients and customers.
The Quick Fix:
Look at the products or services that you are selling. Are you focusing on the features instead of the benefits or solutions that they product will bring to the potential customer? If so, it might be time for you to give your product page an overhaul. If your sales are low, you might benefit from surveying your ideal client group to find out what they do and don’t like about the product, and what changes they think would make it more appealing in the future.
Here are the three biggest mistakes first time business owners, including myself, make in the first year of business.
Now, I’d love to hear from you, are currently in the first year of running your own business, and are you making any of these mistakes? How do you plan on taking action and making the necessary changes to ensure your success? Let me know by using the comments box below. Thank you for reading, sharing and commenting with such kindness and enthusiasm.