I know that I’ve had that feeling before, especially early on in my journey as an online entrepreneur. I would work like a mad man to complete tasks on my to-do list without feeling like I was gaining any ground.
At some point, I realized that my problem was that I was not being systematic or strategic about my efforts. And an ad hoc approach is not a recipe for success with online entrepreneurship. Instead, you need to be intentional and strategic about starting, building, selling, and scaling.
At some point along my journey, I started to categorize tasks and build a framework for thinking about how to build my business. And in the process, I was able to come up with a real game plan for what to do.
I now think of business building as happening in 4 Phases: Getting Started, Getting Seen, Getting Paid, and Getting Sustainable.
Phase One – Getting Started
We all obviously start out as beginners. So the logical beginning stage is to get off the starting block.
This seems like it should be easy. But it isn’t.
And even as you progress in your journey, you need to coming back to the starting point from time-to-time to do a bit of a “check-in” to make sure everything still makes sense in your business.
The “getting started” phase is largely about figuring out who you are going to serve and how, figuring out your brand identity, and then getting things set up.
The first step to getting started is to figure out your “who” and “what.” In other words, who are you going to serve and what are you going to help them with.
This is all about niching down to find your particular area of genius. You can’t be everything to everybody. And if you try, you’ll end up serving no one.
You aren’t done niching down until you have a succinct elevator pitch that explains who you are, who you serve, and what results you provide for them.
The second step is to figure out your brand identity. Some people think that branding is about picking colors and creating a logo. But that’s not branding.
Branding is figuring out the message that you are going to convey to the world.
It includes thinking through your brand personality (e.g., serious vs. lighthearted), deciding between a personal brand or a company brand, and figuring out a brand “story” to tell the world. Along the way, you need to be strategic and think about having a cohesive message.
You want all the piece to fit together into a seamless whole. Kind of like how each of the pixels on your television comes together into a single picture.
After you’ve completed your niching down and figured out your brand, you’re finally ready to move to the third step – getting things set up for your business. This is the sometimes tedious process but it is important. It involves thinking through the legal issues (come on, you knew that a lawyer was going to mention those!), getting all the components of your business set up (e.g., your website), and then putting in place basic organization and processes.
Once you get off the starting block, you can turn your attention to the next phase of building your business. . .
Phase Two – Getting Seen
Now it’s time to start thinking about building your online platform.
This phase is about getting people to take notice of you and your brand. In the long run, your goal is to get potential clients (the “who” you identified in Phase One) to discover you and then to come to know, like, and trust you.
There’s no way that I could even begin to catalog all the ways to build your platform (there are scores of awesome books about that process). But here are some of the options you might consider:
- Building and leveraging a professional network
- Leveraging public relations techniques
- Guest writing for well-known blogs and publications
- Appearing as a guest on podcasts (or creating your own)
- Creating content for your own website (a/k/a blogging)
- Leveraging social media to build a tribe
- Hosting or speaking at virtual summits
And the list could go on-and-on. . .
In deciding what avenues you’ll pursue, you should think about your personality and your strengths and weaknesses.
Do you like to write? If so, maybe creating your own blog and trying to get guest writing gigs will be your best bet.
Do you like to talk with people and tell stories? Then maybe you’d be an awesome podcast guest (or host) and could be a great addition to a virtual summit.
You get the point. . .
Whatever you choose, make a commitment to stick with it. This is a marathon, not a sprint. You aren’t going to be seen overnight. It will take time and consistent effort.
Through consistent effort, you will start to build buzz about your brand and your services, which leads us to the promise land. . .
Phase Three – Getting Paid
About now, you’re probably thinking: “It’s about time!”
I mean, we all got into business to make money. Sure, we want to serve and enjoy working with our clients, but we have to be able to make a living.
That means figuring out how you are going to get paid.
Some of this will happen organically as you build your platform. You’ll discover what your potential customers want and need and you’ll forge relationships that can lead to money-making opportunities.
But at some level, you are just going to have to think this one through yourself and figure out how you want to make money from your platform. There are too may to list, but here are a few to get your juices flowing:
- Write a book (self-published or through a publisher)
- Lead group training sessions (masterclass style)
- Offer online courses
- Sell coaching or consulting services
- Become an affiliate and sell someone else’s products
Your best bet with be to have multiple offerings, including products at various price points. You want to have a way for folks to get into your world as a buyer relatively cheaply. This might involve a book or a short training session you can offer for $27 or less. The point is to have an easy way for people to become a “customer.”
Then, you’ll want to move people up the value ladder. As you build out your offerings, you’ll have products at ever increasing price points, which will allow you to offer the next thing to your customers. This is where you will actually make a living.
But figuring out what you are going to sell is only half the battle. You also have to figure out how to sell your products to people.
Your “how to sell” needs to start with creating an irresistible offer that no-one will want to refuse. From there you’ll have to figure out whether you want to sell your product via webinars, through social selling, or through a good old sales page.
When you combine a great product, an irresistible offer, the right sales method, and great copy (yeah, you have to learn this skill too), the money will start flowing into your business.
That’s when you can really start to celebrate. . . and move things into high gear!
Phase Four – Getting Sustainable
This is where things start to get REALLY interesting! Once you are getting paid consistently and find your groove, you can start to scale.
That’s when you start to really accelerate and build momentum towards a truly thriving online business.
This is the phase where you transition from a solopreneur who is run ragged to an entrepreneur with a business that’s humming along. . .
This phase starts with building out systems and bringing on team members to help with the process. Maybe that means hiring a virtual assistant, a marketing consultant, an advertising agency, or some other team to help.
It will definitely involve creating automated systems to run portions of your business. You need to find ways to make money on auto-pilot. You’ll know you’ve made it when you start waking up in the morning to discover that your automated systems got someone into your funnel, provided them with incredible value, and then converted them to a paying customer. All without you having to lift a finger!
Once your system is humming along, you’ll be focused on figuring out how to “drive traffic” to your business. You may choose to focus on getting website traffic (through SEO) or focus on getting brand ambassadors (to drive their own followers to you) or start advertising on Facebook or some other forum or finding affiliates to market your products or [fill in the blank with your favorite method].
And then you’ll start to refine and tweak everything you do. You’ll work to nurture your leads and your clients with email sequences that are tailored to where they are on the customer journey.
During Phase Four, you’ll also need to learn how to be more productive. Even as you start to automate and delegate, you will have an ever expanding universe of potential tasks. You’ll need to learn skills to become more productive day-to-day and also how to focus on the things that matter.
Once you are to Phase Four, you’ll have a thriving business. . . That’s the promise land.
Accelerate Your Journey With 40+ Experts
You shouldn’t try to “go it alone” in your entrepreneurial journey. Sure you could try to do it all yourself, but why would you want to.
What if I told you there was a way that you could take a deeper dive on each of the 4 Phases and learn from experts about how to build your thriving business?
And what if I told you you could get that information absolutely FREE?
As you can probably guess, those weren’t rhetorical questions. There is a way for you to learn from some truly stellar experts (including yours truly) for free.
You can attend the 2018 Infopreneur Summit (affiliate link), which runs from February 19-22.
The Summit is broken down along the 4 Phases, with a day focused on each phase. Each day, you’ll get the chance to learn from between 10 and 12 experts who will help you along in your journey.
You’ll be able to get incredible value no matter where you are on your entrepreneurial journey.
As a speaker, I’ve gotten the chance to check out these sessions already, and they are AWESOME! I’ve been running my own business now for almost 5 years and have been deeply engaged in online entrepreneurship for more than 3 years, and I was taking TONS of notes during these sessions.
Each of the speakers delivers some kernels of genius in their area of expertise. So be prepared to take some notes during the Summit.
You’ll also be able to get your hands on some really awesome freebies from the speakers.
To give you an example of the kind of thing you’ll get, I’m giving every summit attendee access to a course about creating a client agreement for their business (and it includes a template client agreement for attendees to adapt for their business). So, if you register for the FREE summit, you’ll get access to a pretty awesome course about a core legal issue for FREE.
Don’t miss your chance to learn from more than 40 experts without having to pay a dime. Register for the Infopreneur Summit now (affiliate link).
Now, you’re probably wondering why I’ve put “(affiliate link)” after the links to register considering that I told you this is a free summit. Well, that’s because once you register for the free Summit, you’ll have the option — totally up to you — to register for an advanced package where you’ll get some extra goodies.
People who choose to go with the upgrade will get access to a second interview from each expert and even more freebies. There are also some prize giveaways that are just amazing. And attendees who upgrade will also get lifetime access to the recordings (instead of just 24 hour access).
There are some other perks that Bailey Richert, who’s hosting the summit, explains to you once you register for the free package. I’ll let her tell you all about the paid upgrades rather than belaboring the point here.
Regardless of where you are on your journey and even if you don’t want to pay for the upgraded sessions, you really should register for the free portion of the 2018 Infopreneur Summit (affiliate link).