You are laid off, your business fails, you get divorced, medical costs, basically any cataclysmic event and suddenly you have to create something from nothing. Could you do it? Could you get back on your feet in thirty days or less? As heart wrenching as life tragedy is, know that you are more powerful, resilient, and stronger than you may realize. If you were suddenly in a position where you had to build a business to generate revenue find hope in knowing that there is a formula; there are the 11 essentials to building an online business in 30 days or less.
I was once in this position myself. In the late nineties, I owned a health club. Our club was popular, and the epicenter of cool. Pro athletes, celebrities, and even the mayor, worked out at the club. Being a huge believer in multiple streams of income, I also taught nutrition at the local college, trained clients, was racing pro triathlon for money, and basically creating enough extra income to feed my family, and pay the bills, so I didn’t have to take money out of the club.
To keep the doors open, the monthly operating costs were over $55,000. From taxes to rent to staff to electricity, we were not bringing in any form of profit until after we hit that goal. September and January were always solid months and we ran a summer membership program for students which would generate additional revenue in May. That left nine months of hustle, ingenuity, grit, and faith.
We didn’t make it every month and soon the late payment notices started coming and collection agencies started calling. I was stressed out, operating on adrenaline 18 hours per day, started working more on the front desk so we didn’t have to pay staff, teaching more fitness classes myself, and doing everything to limit expenses. It wasn’t enough.
By April of 2000, the club was shut down for failure to pay rent and taxes. I was devastated, humiliated, and vowed – never again! I resolved, on that day, to never take business loans, to always capitalize my own start-ups, and to develop myself personally and financially. It would be a few years before I would be making six figures, and eventually over a million dollars per year annually, online, however the lesson was learned.
In October of 2017, I co-founded an online coaching business. We were profitable, including site design, legal fees, CRM implementation, and any tech we required, in 4 hours! Knowing what I know now, I am passionate about helping small business owners succeed regardless of the economic landscape.
If you are going through a tough time, and want to stop relying on anyone else, then this is a recipe for what to do. If you anticipate that the winds of change are coming and you want to be prepared, then this will also serve you. If you are just tired of doing what you are doing and want change, then this could work for you however I have found that these steps work best for people who are truly hungry. The content planning, execution, and willingness to be frustrated at times while you juggle a job and building a business, is not for people who like to ‘Netflix and chill.’
If you really want ‘it’ and are willing to work, these are the 11 things that you can do in order to create a solid online business:
1. Get Some Form of Money Coming In. Housesit, pet sit, pick-up a shift at the local restaurant, consult, take a part-time job – figure out a way to bring in money. In this step, you might have to humble yourself. I don’t care if you have PhD. If you need money, get some. If you have to work at a convenience store for minimum wage – do it! You have bills to pay. Perhaps you have children to feed. Get some money coming in and don’t be too proud to clean houses, toilets, or whatever you need to do.
This stage is temporary and frankly, you are going to learn a tremendous amount by getting in the trenches. My friend, Mitchell Modell, has the most watched episode of Undercover Boss. During his time undercover, he found out that one of his employees was homeless. He was so humbled and ended up giving her a raise and buying her a house.
I have seen businesses fail because the CEO is too arrogant to understand the consumers or distributors. If you are going to be successful, you require humility, and you also require cash flow.
2. Set Aside a Portion of Your Earnings to Start Your Business. Before the internet, starting a business required a significant investment. Today, many businesses can be launched for a few hundred dollars. As tempting as it is to head to Costco and buy ten boxes of cereal just because you now can, don’t do it! Operate lean, set aside money, and know that some sacrifice now, can pay dividends later.
Years ago, I mentored a woman whom we will call Jane. Jane was about to lose her apartment, didn’t have any credit cards, and was sinking fast. The good news is that she was hungry. She invested in a network marketing business by purchasing about $275 in products, through a business launch presentation, called several people who she thought might be interested in her holistic products, and within one month was able to pay her rent. No, that doesn’t happen for everyone however I will tell you that it is more likely to happen to those who hustle.
3. List 3, or More, Possible Business Ideas. The reason I want you to list out at least 3 ideas is because we often limit ourselves based on external factors. Some of the best businesses come from a place of ‘outside the box’ thinking. Perhaps this is your time to become a coach, teach French online, join network marketing, or sell knitting patterns.
4. Make a list of 200 people who would want your product/service. It is naïve to think that you can simply create a sales funnel and expect people to buy. The early adopters of your product or service are very likely to be in your ecosystem until you have the money to spend on ad traffic. I teach my business students to begin cultivating relationships, updating contact information, and ensuring that connecting is not purely social media reliant.
Imagine that you were getting married. Who would you invite to your wedding? Add them to this list. Who is on your holiday card list? Add them. If you truly have to launch a business without very much start-up capital, you will need this list to generate early revenue.
5. Schedule your business launch. I like to say that ‘version done is better than version none.’ Schedule a date in which you will do an online, and perhaps, in person launch. Let go of perfection knowing that in order to really create solid revenue, you will need to present weekly, if not daily.
As I write this, I have a role as CCO of RadiusAI, an artificial intelligence company. In our Pre-Series A, friends and family round, we are presenting daily, and often 2-3 times per day, to potential investors until we close this round. So far, we have raised over $1.5 million and are almost done. I told our co-founders, Jeff Cox and Bobby Chowdary, that we will present as many times as we need to in order to close this round.
Ultimately, if you are truly hungry, you will do WEIT to get things done.
6.If you are building an online business, use free trials, and software deals. You will require the following software for a lean start-up:
- CRM – Customer Relationship Management. You need this to communicate with customers, send out recordings of classes, building landing pages, funnels, segment and build your list, and much more. As an aside, my digital agency – The Agency 8, can help you with your CRM integration. Visit theagency8.com .
- Payment Processing – Stripe or PayPal.
- Tax and Accounting. In early 2018, The Supreme Court passed a law that allowed individual states to charge sales tax on digital products. Each state has different laws and ultimately, whether you are selling on Etsy or a life coach, technically you should be remunerating taxes in every state depending on volume.
7. Offer something free. Offering a free 15-minute coaching session, product sample, video series, e-book, or some other form of value add is what will expose people to your brand. Personally, I like to offer free master classes – 90-minute webinars that deliver great content and expose me to new people. This is essentially your lead magnet.
8. Get your social media going. You must be where your ideal customer is and also know that people are on different social media platforms for different reasons. For example, Instagram is very visual and artistic. People like to scroll for the beauty of the photos and watch some IGTV. Twitter is where people go to get their news and watch rapid-fire celebrity missives. Facebook encompasses grandparents who want to see their grandkids and brands that want to create community. LinkedIn is for business however lately, more amateur business builders have hit the space and in-box promoting their product or service without relationship building. Don’t get me started on that one!
You will need 1-3 professional headshot photos for your profile and at least 4-6 candid, lifestyle photos if you are coaching, doing events, or offering webinars. With today’s camera technology in your phone, simply hit ‘portrait’ on your IPhone or basically any setting on your Samsung, grab a friend, and create your photoshoot.
9. Prepare to use every spare moment to deploy content. In a meeting with a client? Ask if you can create a short video of you giving advice. Post it to YouTube, LinkedIn, wherever your potential clients are. Post a portion of a blog with a link to your site. Doing life? Post about it. People want people to be real. If you really need to create something from nothing then you will be posting on multiple platforms including your unique content, comments, and shares, at least 20 times per day.
10. Always include a C.T.A. (Call to Action). I see people who create great content however there is no C.T.A. Your C.T.A. invites people to a site, landing page, or offer, in which you can collect their information. Let’s say, for example, that you do a Facebook Live, and give some life coaching tips. Afterward, you can invite people to come to your landing page and get a free 15-minute coaching session. The importance of this is that you now have their information and are generating a list of people who are interested.
ALWAYS include a C.T.A. that takes people to where it is you want them to be.
11. Manage your mindset. The hustle, the grind, the process, it isn’t easy. People tend to start and give-up as quickly as they entered any space. As someone who has doubled her online revenue every year since 2015, I will tell you that there are many days where I do not want to post, write, do my LIVE show, take photos, or shoot videos, and yet I do it anyway. At the end of the day, you want to create revenue however you must first serve people. Start each process with the notion that you are there to truly serve and in doing so, your content will be better, you will feel better about what you are doing, and you will have more fun.
About Susan Sly
Susan Sly is a tech entrepreneur, digital marketing specialist, professional speaker, author, and mother of 5. Susan has appeared on CNN, CNBC, Fox, Lifetime, and more. To inquire about hiring Susan to ignite your event as a keynote speaker, email [email protected]