Wouldn't it be great if you could avoid the mistakes in your first year? Wouldn't it be amazing if somebody would just tell you, ‘don't do this, do this instead’? I've been thinking a lot about this, and I thought, you know what? I've made a fair few mistakes over my first year. What could I share with you to help you perhaps make a decision that's going to move your business faster and make it so much easier and less stressful?
Today I'm sharing three mistakes to avoid in your first year when you're building your online business. Let’s dive in.
First of all, let’s just remember why you are building your online business. What's the reason for you that you're doing this, that you're making the effort, that you really want to make this a success? Perhaps it's about building incredible impact for your ideal clients - to put them through a transformation that's not only going to make a massive difference in their lives, but light you up too.
That feeling of being encouraged, excited, and lit up every day is certainly true for me.
It’s why I moved out of corporate, never want to go back and instead want to be my own boss, run my own business where I'm genuinely making a difference in people's lives - where I can see that what I'm doing is helping them. That lights me up and I know that that is true for you too. Why it is that you’ve gone into the special niche that you have and why you're building your business in the first place - and of course, let's not forget about generating income. I define this for me as generating income that makes me feel my personal abundance, whatever that number is for you, whatever that feeling is for you.
Of course, building our businesses needs to generate the sustenance and abundance that allows us to help more people, allows us to sustain ourselves and our families and live in a place of flow and relaxed ease, and joy.
In order to do that and to step into your vision and your dream, you have to do all the things.
This makes me laugh – ‘doing all the things’ is actually a phrase that we use in online business creation. We say, ‘you know, it’s so hard because we have to do all the things’ - and the reality is we have to learn a lot – or in other words, everything. I know that it can feel overwhelming, and it can feel confusing and that can mean that it could be a whole lot slower than you first thought as well. I mean, who knew you had to do and achieve so many things in order to have your online business working, flowing, making money, and producing results?
Let's just remember what the fundamentals of building an online business so frequently are. First of all, you have to find your purpose and your mission. You have to uncover what you love doing that makes money and helps other people. You have to really know who those people are.
Who is your perfect client avatar? You have to identify who you help and exactly what makes them tick. Only then can you create a transformative offer.
You can package your gifts into an offer that not only transforms people, but you can sell it too. On the way to that you have to start creating lead magnets and list building and you have to create a way to engage your avatar and actually sell your offers.
Last but never least is visibility and awareness, where you develop your know, like and trust and ultimately create a pipeline into your business so you can sell and make the transformations.
These are the exact steps that I go through with my clients, both one-to-one and in small groups, because I have a massive belief that until you can get these fundamentals sorted, it's very hard to build and scale your business further.
This is business building 101 and no wonder it's so easy to feel overwhelmed because you must not only know these steps, but you actually have to implement them. You have to be accountable. You have to actually make this happen.
So much has to fall into line for you to do that - but it doesn't have to be so hard. We're so much harder on ourselves than we need to be, and we make it so much more difficult because of that.
I’m now going to share my first mistake that I made in my business that I hope will help you as you move forward, and this is not valuing yourself and your own ability to help others. If only I'd realised earlier the value of being just a few steps ahead, and instead, the thoughts come up - who am I to do this? Everyone else is doing this and they're more qualified or experienced than I am. I have to be perfect…
It's easy to fall into procrastination when you're feeling like this and you end up feeling like playing small, as you fear being judged. Gosh, I fell into this so fast when I first pivoted out of my 20-year advertising agency career into being a business coach and strategist, I really felt the fear of being judged. In my mind, I pictured being judged by my corporate colleagues. You know, the picture of hanging around the water cooler gossiping and saying, ‘oh, did you hear what this one did?’, or ‘did you see what Jo's up to? She calls herself a coach’. This stuff was going through my mind and how that manifested was that I literally couldn't move forward for fear that people that I'd known in my previous life would be judging what I was now doing, saying, ‘who does she think she is to do this? What experience does she have to make her qualified to help others in that way?’
Of course, the reality was that I had been thinking this about myself, but who knows whether those others would have thought it - and even if they did, does it really matter? What really matters was what I felt that about myself.
As I transitioned, I had a profile on LinkedIn, as many of us do. It had been there for many years as part of my corporate career and ladder climbing. I didn't change it for months after I pivoted. I just left it looking like I was still working in corporate - but I'll tell you what, the day that I made the decision to actually change that, update it and proudly say – if a little nervously - that I am a business coach and strategist open for business, here I am on LinkedIn, everything just melted away. It was like I needed to push through that resistance and through that barrier. So do you, so do we all.
Just remember that the slight edge is all that you need and the battle that you're going through with imposter syndrome can steal months from your progress. Ultimately, you are enough.
I'm sure you've heard it said before that you are enough, but make it count when you're building your business. There are two things I'd love to share with you that really helped me just to feel that more, so I could really step into my power as a business coach and stop playing small.
The first is messy action and this is about embracing failure because believe me, the faster you fail, the faster you're going to get there. It's about trying new things, even if they're not perfect, and giving them a go. Gosh, I felt such a massive amount of relief not being in corporate and knowing that if I tried something, it didn't work out and that I chose to not continue it or to change it, nobody was going to judge me because I was running my own show.
I could truly let perfectionism go because we have to learn on the job. So why not just get learning?
I'm sure you've heard it said before that clarity comes from action and I found this to be so true. Once I started to imbue messy action and just start to take steps forward, things started moving and things began unlocking for me, both in my confidence, but also in the clients that were working with me.
That's the second thing that really helped me know that I was enough, and this is to just do it and serve. I felt like I couldn't possibly create that transformation at first in people, so I reached out and at the time I just offered my services for free. I just said, you know what? I think that this is something that I can really help you with, so jump on a call with me and let's see how it goes. Every time I did that, I had a call that felt truly outstanding. For the coaches I was helping, I was able to unlock the next step for them - but for myself, I was also able to unlock the confidence that I needed to say, this is something that I can do. I truly do help. In the future, I can charge for this.
It's about finding the evidence that's going to support the fact that you are made to do this rather than looking for things that support the idea that you're not good enough.
As I helped more and more people, my evidence grew, until I got to a point where the universe just wasn't having it anymore. I offered my services to somebody for free and at the end of the call, they said, ‘this is ridiculous. I'm absolutely paying you for this. The transformation that you've helped me with is worth money. Stop doing this for free’. Boom.
Something clicked in my head that said, this is my time. From this point forward, I am now a business coach, I am open for business, and I will be paid for the transformation that I help others make.
So, in summary, mistake number one is taking so long to know that you are good enough and that being only a couple of steps ahead is enough.
Mistake number two that I want to share with you today is all about where you put your focus. Now I’ve found, as I'm sure that you have too, that overwhelm comes when you try and do everything at the same time. Let's be honest, not all tasks are equally important - you need to take it step by step. You need to find what the real needle moving tasks are, so you're not spending so much time in your business in overwhelm, just trying to do everything at the same time, not completing and not succeeding.
When we make a decision about what the needle moving tasks are, we have to think about the money-making activities first. They're super important, and you have to make them a priority because, let's be honest, without money-making activities, you are running a hobby and not a business. There are so many things that you're probably doing right now this week in your business, that if you really examine them, you could realise that they are not designed to actually help you move your business forward as a profit-making entity. That was my mistake at first too.
I realise now that it, of course, has to be offers first.
Without having an offer, an offer that you're proud of, an offer that you can articulate, you don't really have a business - because what are you going to sell to people that show interest in the things that you're talking about and the content that you offer?
When I realised how important offers are, I did two things. The first one is vitally important, and it is simply start where you are. At the beginning, when I had all that imposter syndrome I was just talking about, I didn't have a clear offer. It took me a while, but I got to a point where I realised that it was time to charge. I had to create an offer quickly, and I didn't want to fall into procrastination, so I did a very simple thing. I started where I was, offering one-off one-to-one sessions to help new entrepreneurs take action.
If you are still at the stage of your business where you haven't got even a simple hour that you offer for a set cost, that you know what transformation you're going to help others make, just take the first step. Start where you are, no need to keep procrastinating. You just need your first offer now.
My confidence – and business - really grew when I got real clarity on my offer. I'm going to take you through the clear steps now that you need to ask yourself in order to have a fully developed offer, that you can feel incredible confidence about, and you can feel proud telling anyone about how you help and what it is that you do.
To create an offer that you're proud of, firstly, you have to understand what your areas of expertise are. This is where you mine the depths of your mind and really start to understand exactly where you help and believe me, if you don't think you've got very much, you are very mistaken. You can use a technique like mind mapping, which I talk about frequently. This is how you get the thoughts out of your head and onto a piece of paper.
Trust me, you are going to be so surprised about how much knowledge you have and can actually teach.
Knowing what you have is half of the equation. The other half of the equation is asking, how do you help your perfect client? We all know how important it is to nail your niche and get a true understanding of what they want, what they need and how you can solve their problem. To have a fully developed offer you also have to know what framework best suits both your client and you. Is it really a membership? Should it be a program? Should it be six weeks? Should it be 12 weeks? Should you do this one-to-one? There are so many questions about the framework and the process. Nailing that and understanding what works best is going to mean that you are able to get fully behind it, fully aligned, and it's something you're going to be able to build, scale and grow over time, with full confidence that you've made the right decision.
Of course, you also have to know what you're going to charge for your offer. For some of us that doesn't come easily - it takes a bit of thinking. There are a few different steps you can go through to set the right price and something really close to my heart is asking how you can add more value to make your offer irresistible. I love putting offers out there that layer value, so prospective clients are excited knowing that they're going to make a great transformation because your offer is packed full of so many things that are going to help them along their way.
Of course, finally, it's about how you articulate your offer, so it actually sells. I have developed a deep passion for creating offers and helping others do it. I frequently walk my one-to-one clients through this process with exciting results every single time. Once I had taken myself through this process, I realised that my confidence was sky high because I had an offer I could get fully behind - an offer that I knew would create fabulous transformation and also an offer that I was really comfortable to charge it's worth for, because I knew its true value.
Creating your offer first is going to unlock an immense amount of momentum in your business.
Also, what was incredible to me was that when I answered that question for myself, I actually created my next offer, where I can help others implement the exact same steps.
On to mistake number three. This is one that I'm calling the one right space and the mistake is piling into social media and becoming quickly overwhelmed and burned out by the number of things you're trying to achieve in social media in general. Social media of course helps us create our wildly successful businesses and it's a great tool, but when it does create overwhelm and burnout is when you're not focusing on what you're doing, why you're doing it and where you're doing it.
I fell into this massively in my first six months, I was building my Facebook group, working my Facebook business page, posting on my personal profile on Facebook, building Instagram from scratch because I'd never used it for business before – I also took a course on LinkedIn and started building up my profile and following on there, trying to add loads of value. I even joined Clubhouse and was hosting my room every week. No wonder I was exhausted.
That, combined with doing all the other things, took me to a point about six to eight months into my business where I was totally burned out. Now you'll know if you've been listening to my other podcast episodes that I'm all about how to avoid burnout.
From my experience, I talk about self-care. I talk about vibration. I talk about all the things that we need to do to keep our mindset strong and actually create success, not just from the hard grafting and the doing. I'm all about inspiration and inspired action rather than hard, heavy action that ultimately leads you to feeling unhappy and burned out. Social media is such a central part of the mistakes that you can easily make at the beginning as I did.
So, what can you do about it? Well, you need to ask yourself one simple question, where does your perfect client hangout. Start there. Period.
You don't need to be everywhere. You need to be where your perfect future client is, and you only really need to be in one place at one time.
Now, if you need permission to put something on ice, you have my permission. Perhaps you know that your perfect avatar really exists in Facebook. Perhaps you know that they engage in Facebook groups. Now could be the right time to just take a break from Instagram if you're getting overwhelmed. I know this isn't something everyone would tell you - other people just want you to do everything everywhere - but from my own experience, I know that this doesn't help. There's no point in doing a half-hearted job in two or three places, when you could be doing a fully aligned, powerful and enjoyable job in one space. Just find the right space for you and throw all your efforts behind that one platform.
Bear in mind that you also have to want to work in that platform, so go where are you most familiar and/or most enthusiastic. If you're all about Instagram, you love that platform, you know your avatar is there and you're excited about it, go for it - but if that's not the case, lean into somewhere else. I hear over and over again from the top online business entrepreneurs that they mastered one platform first before they moved on to the next one. Dividing your time and energy between platforms when you're, let's be honest, a one-person solopreneur is really going to drain you, and you'll most likely fail to build the following that converts into sales.
When I realised this, I dropped over 50% of what I was doing, and I am now loving social media so much more. In fact, over the last few months I have been putting the majority of my social media energy into Instagram. I've been focused on making my content more impactful, more relatable and engaging, and I've got into reels, which I never thought would happen. I was so shy of being on camera when I started my business, that I would be the last person that I thought would be creating reels, but I'm having so much fun doing it, and I'm getting to hang out with my kids more. I'm enjoying being a social media content creator so much more and incredibly I’m getting more results. It's like win, win, win.
Perhaps now is the time for you to make a change in where you're putting your social media energy. Give yourself permission to focus in one place first and start doing all the things that you need to do in that place to really resonate with your ideal client avatar.
Now they’re my three mistakes that I want to share with you today, but there's one last thing I'd also want to point out, because I think that this is most important of all.
This is that one hundred percent of your success is linked to your energy and your enthusiasm. If you are feeling stuck or overwhelmed, just stop doing the things that are causing you to feel that way. Do what you enjoy. Do that both in your business and do it in your life.
If there's something in your business that is lighting you up and causing you to feel inspired, do more of it.
Similarly, if you're currently feeling heavy and stuck with building your business, do something else that you enjoy in your life. Make your music, do your art, go for a run, do a yoga session. Find ways to make yourself feel better. Trust me, I learned this the hard way, but when you do feel better your business results start booming and the inspiration finally comes.
I'd love to get this topic on a roll and if you know of some business mistakes that you've made in your first year, I'd love to hear about them. Please send me a DM on Instagram - my handle is @iamjo.ingram.
I mentioned earlier that I'm helping people produce offers they are proud of - if you're in a place where you have not got your offer nailed, contact me on Instagram @iamjo.ingram
or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll give you more information about the new group program that I'm starting soon.
I hope you've enjoyed this episode today. I've loved sharing some of the mistakes I've made in my first year. Have an inspired action week. Take care.
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