There are so many online business myths and success stories doing the rounds. As an online business owner, you cannot fail to see them or be attracted to them, as the online world is rife with promotional campaigns promising solutions and strategies to help you create the business and life of your dreams.
It can be incredibly difficult to know what is and isn’t real, especially when you’re only being given half the story. That’s why I loved chatting with Teresa Heath-Wareing recently. Teresa helps business owners from all around the world create a business and life they dream of, not what the rest of the world tells them they should have. Because success isn’t always about six figure launches and working from a beach - it’s about creating something that fits in with you, your family and your life.
When you define success, it often equates to a financial figure, but it doesn’t have to be a six-figure thing. It can be anything you like - more time, holidays, freedom to be off with your kids and even having time for your hobbies.
But no matter what your definition of success is, there will always be some kind of payoff. If you want to build a seven-figure business, you will need to work more hours than you probably want to. Want a big team? You’ll need to manage other people and is that something you want to be doing? So you need to ask yourself if what you want is worth the payoff, because it can be quite hard to have it all.
It’s so important to look at your business and see something you’re proud of and love. You may want to build a big team so you can hand over lots of tasks, but make sure you’re still doing the bits you love. If you love having conversations, for instance, take the time to really connect with your customers. If you have a membership, get to know the members in it, because it will not sit right with you if you hand that task over to someone else.
And it won’t necessarily sit right with your customers either. Especially if they’re paying for access to you. That's what they want, and that's what you create when you create a personal brand. So you need to make it really clear whether they’re getting you or someone else.
There are so many personal brands that are now big companies with teams behind them, and they look almost like the person next door. But it’s all very curated and systemised in the background. This can work well, but only if you still have access to the face of the brand.
And that’s where clever outsourcing comes into play. Because you don’t want to be doing everything, but there are some things that you absolutely should be doing. Things like coaching calls, having conversations with prospective clients, and showing your face on social media.
Things like responding to DMs and leaving voice notes can take a lot of time, but it’s not something you can hand over to a Virtual Assistant. Why? Because if you outsource something like those personal connections, it can come across as arrogant and rude. People are reaching out to you because they want to engage with you, not a member of your team.
And often, outsourcing things like that won’t work well. If you’re the face and name of your company, someone reaching out will think they’re talking and engaging with you.
It’s often very easy to look at the big people in your niche and follow what they do. They may not have a phone number on their website or advertise email addresses. Often it’s almost impossible to work one-to-one with them and they don’t have the time to answer individual questions or DMS and wouldn’t dream of meeting up for coffee. They show us that success often means becoming exclusive.
But their definition of success doesn’t have to be yours. Their ‘now’ isn’t where you currently are. What if you tip everything on its head and instead of doing everything you’ve been told to do, and do it the other way? Take speaking on stage, for instance. It isn’t something you only do if you’re getting paid - it could be a great way to build your audience. And it isn’t something that you reserve for big stages only. You can get and give a lot more value from smaller, more intimate groups.
Because it’s very tempting to think it should come easily. It can take months to build connections and an audience. It’s often portrayed as this amazing place that’s full of opportunities and there’s so much money to be made. There are so many success stories and social media has helped give them a platform to share those successes. It can seem quite simple and quick to earn seven figures or get 50,000 members in your group.
But often they're not telling you how much they've spent in ads, or how much their team's costing and all that jazz. They’re not sharing how long it took to grow to that size or the reality of what goes on behind the scenes or how many hours they’re working and how many coaching calls they have to take in a day. Many are burning out because they can’t take a break. That’s why it’s so crucial that you’re clear on what you want from your business and plan accordingly. Because if you don’t love what you do, you will not stay the course.
Memberships are often touted as the simple route to higher earnings. But they may not suit your definition of success. If you want to take time away from your business, for instance, you may find it impossible unless your members have that same time period off. There’s also the time commitment around the content. A membership will need you to show your face, too. That means hosting training or showing up live for Q&A sessions - even if you bring in experts to cover certain topics.
It also takes time to build members. Often, it can work out better to have a smaller number of members, as you can then get to know them individually and tailor training etc to their needs. But keep in mind, if you’re not willing to commit to your membership or want to take time out regularly, it may be better to opt for shorter group courses or self-study solutions.
And no matter what you do, know that building an audience is incredibly hard work. Organic growth is difficult, unless you want to throw a lot of money at it. Far too many people try to launch a new program or start a membership and give up because they didn’t get the numbers they need. They berate themselves for getting it wrong when, in reality, it's because they didn't have a list.
There are so many list building solutions out there, each with outlandish, crazy testimonies sharing how they reached 300 members in a day and can show you how to do the same. But often they’re only telling half the story. They may already have had a podcast or a Facebook group. There could have been a million other things that could have helped them reach those figures. They're not telling you all the details and that's the problem.
The online world is an amazing space and an amazing opportunity to build and grow a business. But it’s also a very crowded and unregulated space. People can make whatever claims they like. And actually, there's nothing to stop that happening and nothing to fact check those stories against.
The only way you can fast track audience growth is to find someone you trust who has a huge list and become an affiliate for them. But you can’t do that too often, as it only has a limited life expectancy.
It would be lovely if you could find someone who's ahead of you and bigger than you and has the same audience as you, and you can team up with them. Or do it with lots of people who have smaller audiences, because you're still getting in front of them.
And it’s so easy to get hooked on having a big audience with hundreds of people on a webinar or list. But those smaller numbers can become your biggest advocates. So rather than stressing that you’ve only got 20 people signed up and what's the point? Think about the possibilities. You don’t know where it will lead.
Experts often say don't waste your time speaking for small audiences and only speak if you’re getting paid. But this is another myth.
Because no matter the size, you're getting in front of an audience. The deal is that you choose a speaking gig that’s got an audience that’s difficult for you to get in front of, but would add to your list as well as theirs.
And if you love what you do, you’re not going to mind speaking about it. It’s not a problem if you only have 10 people in your group or are speaking as a guest to a room with 30 in it. It’s an opportunity to share what you’re passionate about.
That’s why it’s so crucial that you’re authentic with your marketing. Show up, do lives each week and give glimpses into the real world. Because we’re so used to being sold to and we're always looking for the sexy quick solutions. But we need to educate our audience as well as ourselves around authentic marketing. Play the long game and build relationships, show who you are and be honest about the results people get from your products and services.
And love what you do. Because if you can’t show up in the way you want, it all becomes too much like hard work. You’re not going to enjoy what you’re doing and your customers are going to feel that lack of energy and enthusiasm, too. That’s when you really need to assess whether it’s worth you having your business at all or if you might as well consult or freelance somewhere else.
If you’d like to learn more about Teresa Heath-Wareing and how she can help you build a business and life you love, check here to check out her website. And if you’d like to listen to her 5 star rated podcast, Your Dream Business, you’ll find that here.