How Online Entrepreneurship Really Works

How Online Entrepreneurship Really Works (+Three BIG Mistakes I Made Early On)

Many people start their online business excited about transforming their client’s lives AND all the profit and freedom possibilities.

We hear stories about how an online entrepreneur went from living on someone’s couch to untold riches with just one simple product launch while working only a handful of hours each week.

It seems so easy and the possibilities are tantalizingly irresistible.

So we jump into this entrepreneurial world, wide-eyed and ready for riches… and then the majority of us end up feeling overwhelmed, alone, inadequate, broke and stuck.

If you can relate, I want to give you hope that it doesn’t have to be that way.

I’ve already shared with you how life- and business-changing co-creating a mastermind was for me in my business. In fact, I don’t think I’d even be in business if it weren’t for my business coach + mastermind groups.

When I joined my first mastermind, I was overwhelmed, frustrated and confused about why my business seemed SO HARD and why it seemed so easy for everyone else. It took a few uncomfortable hotseat experiences for me to realize that I’d made some HUGE mistakes and focused on the wrong priorities.

That realization hit me like a ton of bricks…

  • Here is the very reason why I  was stuck.
  • No wonder I wasn't motivated to work on my long to-do list.
  • It also explained why I was feeling so overwhelmed.

CRAP! Almost 2 years of work on the wrong business priorities?!? What now?

When I had that big a-ha, I realized I had a LOT of work to do to actually build something I wanted to work on, that was sustainable (and profitable) and that I’d be excited about for years to come.

I needed clarity on my business, confidence that what I was creating was valuable and I really needed a cash-flow plan in place as quickly as possible.

Thankfully, I had a GREAT mastermind group + coach who held me accountable, called me on my own BS and supported me through this critical (and really uncomfortable) business evolution.

Today, I want to share three (common) mistakes that led me down the wrong path for so long. It wasn’t until I had an amazing mastermind group + business coach that I even realized my mistakes and how they undermined my business clarity, confidence and cash flow.

I’m sharing these (kinda embarrassing) stories because I want YOU to avoid them!

1. The ‘Ideal Customer’ Mistake

This one is a seductive doozy for me. I spent my entire 16-year corporate career in marketing and totally geek out on marketing strategy, customer insights and creating customer avatars.

Here’s the problem with that. When I was in my corporate job, I had access to world-class PhD researchers + huge (like, eye-popping huge) budgets.

We would spend a year or more going deep into customer demographics, psychographics, spending habits, interviews, focus groups, etc.  Then, spend even more time sifting through all the data searching for exciting possibilities to develop effective marketing strategies.

So, when I saw this in some of my online business-building courses I got all excited about the exercise because I knew how to do it!

First problem was I no longer had access to the PhD researchers.

And the budget? (tiny isn’t the right word… more like almost non-existent!).

And I certainly didn’t have a year or more to study my ideal customers before moving forward with a sales offer.  I needed to make money to keep my business afloat.

I was really overwhelmed trying to figure this all out.

Instead, I did what some ‘experts’ suggested and I made up an ‘Ideal customer avatar’ based on what I imagined she’d want, need and desire.

Big, big, BIG mistake. Here’s the problem… I created a business around a fictional character that I completely made up (who, of course, wanted to buy everything I created! #FantasyWorld).

Once I realized my mistake in creating this fictional ‘ideal customer’, I broke through and found a much easier solution. This new approach helped me see exactly where I was going wrong and completely transformed my business.

2. The ‘Model The Experts’ Mistake

I can’t tell you how many people I talk with who are making this same mistake! It’s that alluring idea that by modeling (aka: copying) what someone ‘successful’ has done to build their business, you will achieve their level of success.

The thinking goes like this — Wow! XYZ expert just put out this course and made $100,000 in an hour. Holy smokes! I guess I need to create a course too….

I understand the seductive nature of copying what successful people are doing, especially when you see someone share their incredible wins and financial results.

Big Mistake! Don’t do anything in your business simply because someone else is having success with it!

In the early days of my business, I didn’t really have a strong foundation in who I was as an entrepreneur, what I uniquely offered and how that would be attractive to potential clients.

So, I spent a lot of time ‘researching’ (aka: comparing myself to well-established players already out there) and ended up feeling really overwhelmed, inadequate and confused.

Part of it was fear. The shift from paycheck-receiving behind-the-scenes marketing strategist to chief sales officer of my business was harder than I thought it would be and I was trying to create the perfect business strategy that would have customers flocking to buy from my business almost effortlessly.

The other part of it was envy (or maybe jealously?) because these experts had (seemingly) already figured it all out.

They seemed so cool, confident and rolling in the cash. They had raving fans, sold-out courses and huge social media followings. It seemed like they could make millions any time they wanted!

I wanted to get to that ‘established’ place and get there quickly… but the only way I could figure out how to do it was by copying their business models.

This was a MASSIVE mistake that ended up costing me a lot of time, heartache and money.

First of all, the business model that I decided to follow did not fit me AT ALL. At that point, I wasn’t ready for it, not to mention it wasn’t how I liked to work and didn’t really fit in with my unique approach.

Second of all, I felt yucky doing it. I felt like a fraud. Like a me-too late comer to the party. I was copying what I thought I should do to create ‘success’ and in the process I had lost all my ability to be me.

From this place of overwhelm and envy, I’d tried to hack the ‘success secrets’ that I could follow. Instead, I ended up creating a business I completely disliked and work that I dreaded (not at all sustainable!).

This ‘model the experts’ mistake meant that I’d forgotten all about my own experiences, skills, strengths, passions and uniqueness. My own business-building ‘secret sauce’…

…instead, I had created a business that was a poor (and failing) copy of someone else.

Empowering myself to be ME was critical at this point. I needed to get really clear about my unique talents, abilities and how I liked to work so that I could create a thriving business based my own ‘secret sauce’. This was the best thing I could have done.

And finally figuring out how to do that was a soul-cleansing breath of fresh air that resulted in a business I never could have copied from someone else. More on that soon…

3. The ‘Email List Size’ Mistake

Ever heard either of these statements?

“The money is in your list” or

“Focus on list building before ANYTHING else and the profits will follow”?

If so many experts out there talk about it, list building must be the key to business success, right?

I wanted that to be true, too. And it took connecting in a meaningful way with other entrepreneurs before I realized this was a big mistake.

Don’t get me wrong – email lists ARE important to your long-term business prospects.

But I made the mistake of focusing EXCLUSIVELY on building my list before offering anything for sale.

I had created a magic number of 1,000 email subscribers. This is the number I had to hit before I was legit. After 1,000 I was a business and I could sell stuff.

Another HUGE mistake.

What was I building a list for? Without a clear profit path (ie: something I wanted to sell), I was literally just adding names to my list to add names.

It would take considerable time, effort and money to attract those people. But I had no clear strategy to turn all these names into paying clients.

And without paying clients… it’s pretty hard to stay in business.

But I made matters worse! Obviously, I wasn't sure what I could offer of value to my subscribers. So they were completely confused about who I was! They didn't even know why they should be on my email list.

Many just came to my site to get a free download. Then, they almost immediately unsubscribed or ignored all my emails after that.

There is no ‘profit’ in a list that doesn’t stay subscribed and doesn’t engage long-term. And there is no profit in blindly driving random people onto my list. It's pointless with no clear strategy to offer value that might turn them into clients.

Instead of blindly following ‘expert’ advice, I needed a trusted coach + group of mastermind buddies to connect with and talk through my strategy.

And if I’d engaged with a mastermind group early on, I would have realized that I should be offering something for sale immediately instead of waiting for some perfect email subscriber number. We’ll go into that in a minute…

The whole point is that I might never have realized the enormity of my mistakes without connecting in a meaningful way with other entrepreneurs + my coach in my mastermind community.

Instead, I would have been completely overwhelmed, thought I was a failure and just wasn’t cut out for running my own business.

Whenever I have a hot seat opportunity (a hot seat is where I bring a problem, question or new strategy for everyone in the mastermind to give input on), I walk away with so much more clarity, confidence and a clear profit plan than I’d ever develop on my own.

Bottom line: don’t try to build your business alone!

This is what I would like from you! 

It doesn't matter if you’re just getting your business started or you’ve been at it awhile.

Leave a comment below describing a question you have about business-building. Is there a specific piece of advice you’ve been hearing and/or following that just doesn’t make sense? What questions do you have about getting clarity, confidence and cash in your business?

I can’t wait to ‘chat’ in the comments below!

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