It’s time to get clear on your vision and goals for the coming year. I am reflecting on my past year and looking back at business lessons a year in.
Today, I am going to go through business lessons a year in, including the mistakes I made and what I would do differently on day 1 if I had a do over. Early stage business owners, whether you are just about to open the doors, or you are a year in, learn from my mistakes and have a better plan than what I did! Your business will be in a better place a year in, you will have more clarity, a more defined focus moving forward, and you will be more comfortable and confident.
I started LegalStudio a year ago and, to be honest, I was clueless. I was full of hopes and dreams and I had visions of opening the doors, posting on social media and BOOM, my clients would becoming raving fans!
On day 1, I had under my belt my social media profiles, a sparkling website, and professional pics to show my face to the world. I was ready to blast into the market place with no strategy.
I wanted a strategy but I didn’t know where to begin when it came to creating one! When I opened the doors, I didn’t know how to start, what to focus on, how to get in front of my dream clients, and the direction I was going. So, I dived in without direction or focus, but with motivation and desire to succeed. Marketing my new business online felt like a maze and I didn’t know how to get from A-Z.
Tell me, when you opened the doors to your business, did you feel the same?
For those of you who are a year or more in to your business, let me ask you this –
What would you?
For those who have just opened the doors to your business, let me ask you this.
I’m a year into my side hustle and the business lessons I have learned along the way is incredible. Given it’s the end of 2019, I thought this would be an opportune time to reflect on my past year, what areas I need to focus on, my mistakes and what I would do over.
It’s good practice to look back at the past year, no matter where you are right now and reflect on the business lessons and learnings.
A year ago, I was starting out and I went in with a completely different model to where I am today. I started off with a 1:1 model, so service-based consulting. Today, I’m moving towards a 1: many model, with online courses, I’ll be moving into podcasting, and scaling my business to reach more people.
Of course, your business will change over time, your model, your strategies, but it’s really important to be clear from the outset to give yourself direction at that time.
Let’s look at business lessons I learned a year in…
My first business lesson a year in… A year ago, I didn’t know where to place my money. This was a big business lesson for me. I didn’t know what to prioritise. Today, here is what I would have done:
I would hire someone to do my website build. I did this at the time, and I spent money on SEO – that was a good call. Having an optimised website will always be important. I use WordPress, and from day 1 I dived in to learning all about it so I could keep it up to date, change it, and make edits myself – and not have to rely on anyone to do it for me.
I would have an email marketing service provider from day 1. Building an email list is important, we already know that. I started using Mailchimp because it was free but I didn’t vibe with it from the get go. What I found was that I didn’t understand how to create sequences and automate on it, so I never really got the benefits from it. I didn’t really give it a chance because I was frustrated with it, which was my bad. I have now moved to a paid provider – ConvertKit, and I find it so user friendly.
That is something I wish I had done from day 1 as I had to migrate everything over and relearn a whole new system. Whether it’s free or paid, choose a platform you gel with and understand how to use the features.
I would get an all in one marketing tool. Today, I use Kartra and it does everything – memberships, lead pages, payments, emails, video hosting, online courses. There are so many more features than that. It’s an all in one system. It’s a little finicky but if I had started using it earlier, I would be in a much better place today in my knowledge of it.
WHAT I WOULD START ON DAY 1
Another business lesson a year in,.. I went into business not having a clear strategy. I admit it. It was silly, given I knew how important it was. But, I just wanted to start! So, I went in blindly and hoped for the best and thought that something would stick. Today, if I was giving advice to my past self, I would tell myself to put in the time to build a strategy. I don’t mean something difficult, I literally mean this:
CLIENT AVATAR. I would have spent more time getting to know my ideal client in detail. I would have put in more work to find out more, their interests, their pain points, their struggles, what makes them happy, where they want to be. The whole point of knowing your client is to learn about them so that you can service them better and provide them with the best offerings, targeted content that helps them. Many small business owners underestimate the importance of the client avatar. Do the exercises and spend time on defining your ideal client.
COMPETITOR STALK AUDIT. Before I opened the digital doors to my business, I would do a more thorough competitor analysis. I would have stalked my competitors as much as I would the person I was going on a first date with.
Knowing what’s working for your competitors and not working for them, and getting intel from their website and socials. This will help you be clear about what makes you different.
CONTENT. Creating content consistently – with blogs, social media posts, video or podcast… That way, I would have been getting my message out straight away and I would be adding value from day 1, rather than the fluffing about I did. The content you create shows who you are, what you’re about and it helps to define you. I would say things like, I don’t know what content to produce or what freebies I should be creating, what products I should be offering – if I knew my clients from day 1, then I would know those answers. Today, I understand just how vital content is to building my brand and how it sets the foundations.
So, if I had a do over, I would publish weekly blogs on my website with accompanying free guides, from day 1.
VIDEO / PODCAST. I would have started making videos or podcasts from day 1. If only, I would be in a much better position today. #somuchregret! I would be much more comfortable, a year on, talking to video and people would have gotten to know me on a deeper level from the get go.
PRODUCTS/ SERVICES. I would have been clearer about my products and service offerings. I wasn’t a year ago, and I now know that if I don’t know my own services well enough, how will my ideal clients know? Be clear about your low, mid and high end products and services.
FOUNDATIONS. I would have set better foundations. I didn’t really set any when I first started, but if I had a do over I would place a lot more emphasis on building the foundations from day 1. So, building the business framework, the social framework, have better strategies, create goals and create a content framework.
I’m a lazy person by nature but I’m disciplined. What gets me moving is structure, deadlines and checklists. I’m a procrastinator so I need a plan and a deadline and I will work to it. Without that, I know I wouldn’t get anything done.
Habits are SO important to me. If you’re the same, then you should consider adopting these habits as well.
CONTENT PLAN. I would create a weekly content plan so that I would be producing weekly content. Social media posts, blogs, videos, podcasts, newsletters… Choose the content that you are focusing on and then create a content plan that sees you producing content weekly. Batch your content and produce everything for the week, well most. All of the content that you can produce, get into the habit of sitting down 1 day a week and doing it.
Of course, there are exceptions such as some Insta Stories and Lives that may be more spontaneous, but all other content should be done and dusted and then out of the way. Now, I do my Sunday Sessions where I prepare all of my content for the week. But, I only recently started doing that so it’s not yet a habit. If I had started this a year ago, I would be so much better at it!
WEEKLY CHECKLISTS. I would create a checklist for the week and the weekend. All of the things I need to do for the week ahead – again, I work well to structure so I know I’ll get through it if I need to. Then on Friday, I would have another list for the weekend. Without a weekend list, I realised that I would fluff about a lot and my weekends wouldn’t be as productive as they should be. Being a side hustler, it’s so important to make the most of my weekends because I have 2 days, potentially uninterrupted, to get my stuff done.
These habits are about productivity and working smarter, not harder.
When I first started my business, I would become overwhelmed quickly, deflated and easily distracted. But, I read something interesting – start your day pumped up and energised. How do you do this? Listen to music that gets you going and kicks you into gear… read, listen to, or watch something that educates you, perhaps by your mentor or someone you look up to for guidance and would like to model.
I listen to Tony Robbins, Tim Ferris, Amy Porterfield, Stevie Says Social, Ruby Lee. I’m a podcast listener. So, in addition to listening to my crime podcasts, listen to educational podcasts that would motivate and provide me with guidance.
This next one is a no-brainer – exercise. Today it’s a no brainer. At day 1, I was spending so much time on my business, I wasn’t exercising as much. So, I would feel low, crap, my energy wasn’t there, and my mind wasn’t as sharp. Today, I would tell my past self to exercise.
That is what I would tell my past self, a year on in my business, to do at day 1.
Finally, I would tell myself to set my myself a mission to complete. Defining the core things to get done when you are starting out, and then do it. Everyone wants to be successful in their missions. That’s what will keep you moving forward.
Strategy is key to growing your business from day 1. There are countless online strategies that you could implement, but only some are are absolutely essential, as laid out above, from day 1.
One thing I am pleased I did not do on day 1 is paid ads. I started on paid ads nearly a year in, so just a short time ago. I would have wasted money if I started too early on paid ads. Why? Because, it’s important to build your online foundations first. Build your presence online organically, create your following and have the foundations in place before starting on paid ads.
Have I missed anything when it comes to business lessons a year in? As a brand new business owner, what are you unclear about? If you are a year or two in, what would you tell your past self if you had a do over? Looking back and reflecting on the business lessons you have learned a year in, is crucial for your future growth. It’s an important exercise that provides you with clarity and direction.
DOWNLOAD: The Growing Your Business Before You Open for Business guide gives you ideas on how to build brand exposure before you open the doors.
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Hi, I’m Simran, and I’m here to help savvy new coaches and service-based business owners start and grow a profitable business and land clients with intentional action and strategy.
And, I am here to help you catapult your online visibility with confidence and authority, while being authentically you.
If you want to work with me, find out more about my coaching services.