And don’t despair trying.
When you launch an online business surfing the Internet will never be the same as before.
Sometimes it becomes agony.
You see that there is so much of everything everywhere that you find it impossible to squeeze your way in with your business.
You want to make a living from it and sometimes you get overwhelmed because you don’t know if you’re going to make it.
There are days when you wake up full of energy and ready to grab everything life throws at you, then you come across a really good post from someone in your sector and you think your content sucks.
And you sink into the most miserable of miseries.
You read dozens of e-books and articles every week and you’ve seen countless videos on YouTube with tips, tricks and courses.
I know, it’s not easy, but it’s not impossible either. (I tell myself this every morning).
Since I started out with my online business I’ve learned that the 2 most important things to move forward and not lose heart are: to be eager to succeed and to be constant in the tasks you’ve set yourself in order to achieve your goals.
These are the tips that, after reading a gazillion articles, watching I don’t know how many videos, reading tens of e-books and especially following my intuition and messing up from time to time, are helping me to move forward.
If you follow, as closely as you can, these tips, I cannot assure you that you will succeed with your business, but you will have many more chances to do so.
You have to work very hard and wake up every morning reminding yourself, why you do what you do.
This post serves me as a reminder and I hope it helps you too.
Shall we see these tips?
1. Create a quarterly plan and stick to it
I’m sure you’ve heard it before from some other people and might have tried it or not.
But I tell you something. This is one of the most effective tips you will find on the Internet.
It’s working very well for me.
It consists of creating a three-month plan thinking about the three main goals you want to achieve by the end of those 12 weeks.
They must be measurable, specific and realistic objectives.
Go step by step and don’t exaggerate by setting too ambitious goals that are light years away from your comfort zone.
Because if you do this you will end up getting frustrated and throwing it all away.
Go piano, piano, like the Italians say.
For example, imagine that you sell handmade handbags and you’re doing pretty well with people you know and by word of mouth, but you want to sell beyond your circle.
Start by aiming to sell X number of bags in 3 months.
Don’t be too enthusiastic when establishing the desired volumes, do some research and study how other businesses have started with a similar product.
Later on, you can establish more ambitious volumes as you are getting the desired results.
For each objective attribute 3 or 4 great actions that you must carry out to achieve that objective.
For example, if your goal is to sell X number of bags, a great action could be to hire a Facebook Ads expert who can create a campaign for you.
At the same time, for each great action, attribute 5 tasks that you must complete to achieve that great action.
In this example, a task can be to search on LinkedIn, for Facebook Ads experts and to review their portfolio.
And so on.
With a quarterly plan you will always be focused on your objectives, you will be more productive and you will organize your days in a better way so that you don’t get distracted.
2. Make the texts on your website sell for you at all times
Keep one thing in mind, your website is your salesperson.
With the advantage that it costs a lot less.
No matter what kind of business you have, it can be an e-commerce or you can sell courses online, but you have to make sure your texts are selling.
Your website has to talk about the benefits of your product or service.
It should focus on the problems your product solves and how your solution is different from the others.
The competition, in almost every area, is enormous so you have to make an effort to convince your website visitors that what they are seeing is what they really need.
You have to be empathetic putting yourself in your client’s shoes.
You need to know what worries them so you can convince them that your solution will help them or that your product is what they really want in order to feel better.
In the example above, a bag doesn’t solve a problem, does it?
The problem might be that the customer wants the bag because it will make her feel good, since it’s nice, different and it’s handmade locally.
She won’t feel bad, like when she buys a handbag from big clothing brands, which she knows has been made by people in very poor countries and that in most cases are exploited.
That bag is not going to make her feel better but your local handmade one will.
This is what you have to convey on your website and in the texts of your posts on social media.
“You’re not just buying a gorgeous bag, you’re contributing to making the world a better place”.
Another very important thing when writing the texts of your website is to get the customer to imagine herself touching the product or doing that course.
People want to touch and feel the product but doing this online is still not possible.
Your texts have to stimulate the senses so that the customer can almost feel how soft the skin of the bag is or how easy it is to access that course and everything she will learn in it, and that will serve her to improve her business.
Texts need to stimulate people’s senses and emotions.
You know, we all buy stuff driven by an emotional impulse that we then justify with arguments.
3. Be active on Social Media even if you’re sick and tired
I know, I also sometimes feel saturated with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram but the reality is that if you’re not there, selling your product or service is going to be more difficult.
Think that social networks are what TV used to be, a way to sell products between films, news or documentaries, with the difference that now you can reach many people for free or by investing a little bit in advertising.
The other big difference is that people spend a lot more time on social media than what people spent on average watching TV in its heyday years ago.
For the simple reason that we all have social media on all day long, on our mobiles.
This can be a burden. For many of us it is, but it’s each individual’s responsibility to decide how to use it.
You can be hooked all day or you can decide how, when and where.
If you have a business you have no choice but to use social media, unless you are a rebellious entrepreneur and decide to move away from it and try another type of promotion such as the radio or the press, but then again, both media are not available to everyone.
Publish photos, blog posts, events. Anything that can attract followers.
You choose your strategy, paying or not paying, uploading something every day or once a week. Video, blog post, photo.
Choose your strategy and stick to it, be constant and patient. Rome was not built in a day.
This is the most frequent mistake of people who start an online business.
They decide on a strategy but if they don’t see results after a couple of months they think it’s not the right one and quickly decide to switch to a different one.
Content strategies, especially those which don’t contain paid ads or backlinks, take time to pay off and usually get long-term results.
That’s why you have to be constant and only change strategy when you’ve tested the previous one long enough to be sure it’s not working.
Studies say that in order to know if a strategy is the right one you need to test it for a minimum of 6 months, this period can vary depending on the specific case.
Changing your strategy lightly and every time something new becomes a trend, will drive you crazy and in the end, you won’t focus on anything.
So trust the validity of your strategy until it proves otherwise.
4. Try to be original even if it scares you
This point, very important in my opinion, arises as a consequence of the current cluttering in social media.
Since everyone is out there showing their great product or service to the world, you see the same resources and tricks repeated continuously to the point of becoming exhausting.
I don’t know if it happens to you, but it makes me sick to see the same marketing resources over and over again.
People with very little originality who copy others and don’t create anything new.
Of course, it’s hard to be original because there’s a lot of everything, but at least you need to try to provide something different to the world.
If you like some resource or trick used by a company you follow, it’s ok to use something similar, but don’t insist on copying each technique literally.
For example, I know that the colour yellow is now super trendy and looks great on Instagram and on a website, but it starting to stink a bit since there are hundreds of people with yellow sweaters swarming over the Internet.
Being a Mummy and entrepreneur is fine, but the truth is that I don’t hear men (even if there are many who are also fathers) repeating all the time that they are Daddies and entrepreneurs.
Being a mother today is a choice and I understand that it can be used as a strategy to create a sense of community.
But you should take into account the possibility that this practice could be counterproductive, as it might provoke rejection from women who are mothers and are overwhelmed by the tasks and responsibilities of raising a child.
This is why many of them cannot understand how other people manage to combine it with running a business.
You never get to know the whole truth about people’s personal situation.
It is not same to be a business Mummy with the help of a partner and a family nearby who can pick up the children at the kindergarten, than to be a single mother or not having anyone nearby to help you.
Anyway, I think it’s great that someone is proud to bring a business to life at the same time as some kids, but I personally think that this marketing technique is already proving a little tiring.
Another technique that is used a lot, is the so called “I’ve been there too”.
I would be very careful with that, because it already sounds like a broken record.
It’s true that there are many cases in which a person has chosen to start a business adventure because it solves a problem she already had.
If this is your case you will need to tell the story very well and stop using hackneyed formulas that sound like a shoddy salesman.
And last but not least, the photos with the MacBook.
So, if you work with an HP or a Lenovo you are a nobody?
I don’t see a picture of someone working on their laptop that doesn’t have the almighty apple.
And then when it’s time to give a presentation everyone turns to the Microsoft users because they can’t connect to the monitor to project their slides.
Try to get out of the moulds and risk it!
5. Make mistakes and try again
We can all be wrong in certain occasions, it’s human and a sign that we have taken a risk for something we believed in.
The important thing is to admit that we have made a mistake, learn from the blunder and move on.
Many times I’ve made a mistake because I was afraid of being original and had tried to imitate the formulas that everyone uses.
Because they tell you that they work and that’s what you have to do because there’s no other way.
Right, you will tell me that this post also tries to tell you what you should do, okay, yes, that’s true, but that’s why I encourage you to try whatever you choose to try and see what works for you and what doesn’t.
I’m also scared to make mistakes.
But I always think that the things I tried that didn’t work I tried because I believed in them.
Or if I didn’t believe in them, I got carried away by not hearing my inner voice.
In business, as in everything in life, you have to believe in your inner voice, that instinct that tells you what to do.
This is the voice that comes from within and is the result of our vital experience and natural instinct.
This voice can be mistaken, yes, but it’s better to listen to it.
I would rather mess it up by following my inner voice than by being scared to risk and imitate what others did.
Make mistakes and learn from them.
6. Ask your customers for feedback and swallow your pride
As our inner voice might sometimes be wrong, asking your customers for their opinion is a really good option.
It’s the most valuable resource at hand to improve our product or service.
My 9 years working in an Operations and User Experience department taught me that the biggest mistake managers made was to ignore customer feedback.
Your customer is the one who is going to tell you, from their own experience, what is good about your product and what you can improve.
Pay attention to it within your possibilities and swallow your pride.
“Pride is one of the worst enemies of entrepreneurship since it doesn’t let you progress and improve what you have created with tons of hard work.
This article speaks of the disastrous consequences that the inflated ego of many senior managers of major corporations is having on the results of these.
I quote: Leaders and creators, the heart of both business and innovation, are at highest risk in taming the beast ego presents to the human psyche.
The article talks about how the ego can create an imbalance in logical and productive thinking.
Our ego prevents us from recognizing mistakes, from being able to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, and from seeing beyond our own interests.
And this can lead you to ruin your business.
Listening to your customers’ opinions will lower your moods and give you a different perspective on how to improve your business.
7. Cultivate optimism and close Facebook when it’s getting you into a funk
I know, I also hate “surfers-good vibes” phrases and the current tendency of having to be happy at all means.
Yes, it can be irritating.
But lately I’ve been reading a lot about the subject and I’ve discovered some very interesting things.
Let me explain.
I have discovered that the brain can be reset at any age.
That what you repeat to yourself over and over is going to have an impact on your life and your behaviour.
And that there are bad habits that can be knocked out.
Yes, erased completely.
I’ll tell you an anecdote that I found very curious and that I read in the course I’m doing to write with joy by Henneke Duistermaat.
In Great Britain they did a study on the ability of thought to influence behaviour and even the human body.
They went to a hotel and divided the group of cleaners in two.
Those who were part of the first group were told a number of facts about how much physical exercise is involved in a certain number of hours of cleaning, the number of calories that are burned, how much cleaning is similar to a gym session, and so on.
Those in the other group were told nothing of this.
Within a few weeks, those in the first group had lost weight and those in the second group hadn’t.
You might think that the first group that knew cleaning is like doing sports, made thus even more effort. They might bend down more often to get to difficult spots with the vacuum cleaner or walked more from one place to another, etc.
Maybe. But the important thing here is that once they were aware that their cleaning work also kept them fit, they began to see the results.
There has been a lot of discussions lately about the plasticity of the brain, or its ability to change certain habits.
More than willpower to do things, what really helps us to achieve results is to create positive habits.
When I was a little girl and until I turned thirty I often wrote in a journal. It helped me to vent my frustrations and to deal with problems.
Then I quit, I don’t know why.
Well it was probably because I gave too much of myself in my previous job in a corporation and I didn’t have much strength left after that for anything else.
But now I’ve discovered another way to keep a journal.
It’s called the 5-minute journal.
It’s about spending 5 minutes in the morning and another 5 minutes in the evening thinking and writing about how we want our day to be and once it’s over why we have to be thankful.
Appreciating the good things in our lives fills us with energy and we need this energy to face setbacks and doubts.
I have started to create this routine and it is helping me so much that I will continue.
Another thing you have to do to stay mentally fit is to avoid comparing yourself all the time with other people who have been in this longer than you.
Learn from them, pick up ideas, try to collaborate with them, but don’t get depressed by continually measuring yourself against them.
Because comparing yourself without mercy doesn’t help, it sinks you further down.
My trick to avoid comparing myself with others is this: when I realise that I am reading something from another person without the spirit of learning but with the spirit of comparing myself without mercy, I close it immediately and start working on my stuff without thinking about anything else.
Running a business isn’t easy.
You will doubt your ability to do business, your personal skills and maybe even your intelligence, but if that is what you really want, you have to insist and work hard for it.
I have given you my 7 tips.
Now you can do with them whatever you want, you can ignore them or follow them or laugh at them.
The important thing is that you get what you want and that you enjoy the journey.
After all, that’s what it’s all about.
Do you have any other advice that works very well for you to continue with your business and not despair trying?
Leave your comments here.
Feature image: Still from the Almodovar’s film Women on the verge of a nervous breakdown
I write web copy and engaging content for businesses without borders. I live in the Netherlands, I write everywhere. I love arthouse films and books that make me think. Tolstoy and Chekhov are my life coaches.