I opened the digital doors to my online business on January 18th, 2011. Despite being overwhelmed by all of the things I had read I “should” be doing, I got a few things right. I had a professional-looking website. I had a newsletter sign-up. I blogged consistently. But there was a lot I didn’t know, and when I think back on it now, there are three main things I wish I had done differently in my first year of business.
3 Things I Wish I Had Done in My First Year of Business
1 | Worked with Someone to Define My Brand
I wish I had hired someone to help me get more clear on my brand.
I don’t mean branding as in colors and logos. I mean brand: who I am, what I do, and who I help. The basics. There’s a certain amount of this you have to learn as you go; in fact, there’s a certain amount of this you can ONLY learn as you go.
But in the beginning I was so myopic and navel-gaze-y that I wish I had taken advantage of the insight and experience of someone who had done this before.
Eventually I did do that. About two years in a hired a business consultant to help me untangle my business. I felt like I was doing too many things for too many people and had competing messages. I did!
The consultant helped me see a bigger context and vision for my work so I no longer felt like I was running 2 different businesses. She showed me how I could take what I was already doing and use it to differentiate myself from others in the market. She honed in on the “big idea” that was already the backbone of everything I was doing so I could lead with that.
Over three years later, I still refer to my notes from that session. Anytime I’ve veered off-course in my business, those notes have helped me come back to center and focus on the real work I want to do. The future of my business is in those notes. That is an incredible gift.
I wish I had started with that kind of clarity and direction.
2 | Had More Specific Offerings
This was another casualty of not being clear about my core brand and mission: my offerings were generic. I had new-coach-dead-giveaway open-ended coaching sessions where I would help people “get clarity,” “find focus,” and “move forward.” I was helping people do those things, but the outcomes I promised were so unspecific that I know I lost income because of it.
How do I know this? Because as soon as my language and offerings got more specific, I made more money.
Everything I offer now follows my One Problem, One Person, One Solution formula. I wish I had done this sooner!
3 | Initiated More Friendships
Running an online business can be lonely. And you can’t be successful in a vacuum. For my own happiness and for the business benefits, I wish I had initiated more online friendships.
I wasn’t terrible at this. I did reach out to some bloggers who I clicked with. I hosted a blog tour. I commented on blogs. I did some guest posts and interviewed some people for my website. But I wish I had been more proactive about turning fun acquaintances into real friends.
Today, I treasure the friendships I’ve made through my business. They’re the ones I mastermind with, troubleshoot launches with, plan the next phase of my business with, refer clients to, get clients from, and text when my child won’t nap and I want to pull my hair out. I trust them. They see me, they get me, and they support me. I try to do the same for them.