9 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started My Online Business
Hey, it's Aurelius Tjin, and in this video, I want to share with you the nine things I wish I knew when I started my online business. I've been running my online business for about 12 years now, since 2006 officially. Before then, I was just playing around online to see what this whole internet business and make money online thing was. There was a bit of a learning curve for me. I officially registered my company in 2006. It's 2018 now, so it's 12 years, but over the past few years and I guess since the beginning, I would say that I've gone through a lot of failures. I've made a lot of mistakes, and these are things that you don't learn. You don't learn it in school. No one teaches you how to run a business or how to manage a business, how to become a leader.
If you're really thinking of your business like a real business, then that's how you should be thinking. If you think of your business just like someone who's just going to make a little extra cash on the side and becoming the one-man band, doing all the things in your business, then that's not the right way. That's not the right approach. Now, if you really want to scale up then you should think about more serious stuff about your business like building a team. Wherever you're at, I think you'll find a nugget here or two in this presentation.
1. Focus on Long-Term Results
The first point I like to share is, number one, focus on long-term results. It's so easy as entrepreneurs or online business owners to try and go for quick wins and be that sprinter, going for that quick finish line rather than thinking of it as a marathon. You want to become a marathon runner and endure through the ups and downs, the peaks and valleys of running your own business, because that's where you learn the most when you actually go through those tough times. That's when you know where your vulnerabilities are. That's when you'll know and when you should be taking action or taking responsibility. Always focus on the long-term results.
It's very tempting to seek quick opportunities and get-rich-quick schemes. It seems all too good to be true. You've seen those plugins, those software that promise you riches if you click a few buttons, but it's never the case. If it were that easy, then everyone will be doing it, right? You've heard that many times, so if you do get trapped into that, just know that you're only delaying your success. You're delaying your ultimate goal that you want to reach rather than if you were to focus on your long-term goals. You know that this is going to take a while. This is going to require patience and for you to persist in your business to see results.
If you're in a situation where you are in a vulnerable state like you don't have a job, you're on your last dollar or you've maxed out your credit cards, that's just to the right position to be in to go online, to look for opportunities and see what works. That's probably the worst mindset that you can be in because you're put in a desperate state to then buy every single product, try every single new tactic or strategy out there. That's when you'll actually feel like if you do try a little bit of this strategy and you don't get results, you'll get really disappointed, discouraged, and you'll end up giving up, and the cycle repeats again. You try and find another product that promises you riches. Then, same thing, same process. You go through the same cycle. That's the trap you don't want to be in.
Always start with an abundant mindset. You know that money can be made very easily if you just focus on the long-term results, long-term goals, and think of this as you're adding value to the marketplace rather than you trying to take so much out of people, trying to make money, and that money is always in your mind, because if you're in that mind frame, it's really going to be hard to actually build the business that's based on a proper foundation, on the beliefs and values that it's supposed to be. Focus on long-term results. That's the first point.
2. Build a Team
This is one of the things I wish I did sooner. I didn't seriously build a team until the eighth year into my business. I didn't hire my first full-time virtual assistant or VA. I didn't hire writers or designers, not to the point where it's consistent. Now I've got a team. When I say team, it doesn't necessarily mean that you need to hire people on a full-time basis or part-time basis. It could mean that you just hire them on a per-job basis. The people on my team work for me on a per-job basis. Not all of them.
I've got a couple of full-time staff globally, overseas, but the others, they're contractors. They work on a contract base where I pay them. They deliver their work such as my writers. They write articles. They write the eBooks and everything to do with content, content writing. You've got the designer who then, I pass on the jobs for any graphic design or projects. He gets the job done. I pay him. Simple as that. There's no need to actually hire them full-time because you're really going to have to give them enough work for them to keep them busy and for you to want it to be worthwhile, paying a full-time wage, whatever that may be. Building a team will help you leverage off of other people's time, so then, you're given more time to work on your business and things and tasks that actually grow the business. If you're constantly designing logos, your website, fixing up bugs, writing content, then you're going to be given less time to work on the strategy and the growth of your company, your business. That's quite self-explanatory.
If I knew how to build a team or hire people properly at the start, then I would have done that sooner. The way I went about it was, I hired my first full-time virtual assistant. I gave him one task, just one task to do. It was such a tiny task. I think it was something like updating my WordPress Blog and then plugins. That's just the one thing he does regularly on a monthly basis to make sure that all my blogs are, and sites that use WordPress as a platform, they are all up-to-date so that there's no vulnerabilities. There's nothing outdated, so hackers can't hack the site or send malicious viruses, things like that. That's just one task that I was doing it myself, but now, I've delegated that to my VA.
Task-by-task, I let go, and as I let go of more tasks, I felt a huge weight off my shoulder even from that one task that I let go. It was just the ease, the ease, the release of something that may seem so easy for you to do, but you dread it every time you think about it. That drags you down for the rest of the day. If you think, "I need to complete my taxes today or by the end of the month," it's always going to run on the back of your mind when you're trying to work on your business. Instead of stressing about that, it's so much better just to invest your money into hiring people to do the jobs that you don't like doing or you're not good at. Therefore, you can focus on the things that you actually do enjoy.
For myself, I enjoy coming up with topics for the eBooks. I like talking with my coaching students. I like creating content for my blog and for social platforms and things like that. I focus on the 80:20 principle so that I focus on the 20% of things that actually produce 80% of the results. As I said, some of those things include coming up with eBook topics, just things I enjoy. That's what I want to focus on. Anything I don't, then I just write it down. Then, when it comes to delegating it, I make sure I train whoever I assign it to so that he/she will know what to do from step one to step two, all the way to the end. That's what you want to do. You want to systemize it and write the procedures down so that they can get the same result every single time they do it.
3. Plan and Set Goals
This is very simple and quite obvious. If you think that you're running a business, you should be planning. You should create a business plan, but a lot of people don't, and that's the thing. When you're an entrepreneur, you get caught up with trying to just work on this, work on that. There's a million things to do on your plate, but if you don't set your goals and you don't set a plan, let's say a three-month goal or target you want to meet or a yearly goal, whatever it may be, it always helps to write it down. Make sure you're clear on it so that you know what you're aiming for and what you're doing every single day so that you're moving towards that goal of yours. If it's a 12-week goal that you set, then do that. You know exactly what you need to do every day to reach that goal, that ultimate goal of yours, whatever that may be.
For me, it could be “increase the number of unique visitors to my blog", which is one of the metrics I follow or use as a benchmark so that I know where I'm going with my content that's posted on my blog. If I'm gaining new unique visitors each month, then that's a great sign. If I'm not, if it's decreasing, then I know that something's wrong in the business or in that aspect of the business. Always plan and set goals.
4. Create Strong Relationships In Your Industry
If, for instance, you're in the online business, internet marketing niche, then you need to go out there. Find people. Connect with them on things like forums, a good place to start. You could even go and do local meetups where you actually meet them face-to-face. If you go to meetup.com and search in the search box for whatever industry it is, if you search for something like entrepreneurship or entrepreneur, you'll find a list of meetups around your local area. Hopefully, there is one. If there's none, then you might just take the initiative and start your own, start your own meetup group. It's a great way, really just to connect with people, learn from others, see what you can take from them so that you can implement to your business.
At the moment, my goal is just to do one to two meetups in person a month. I just want to keep my mind open, keep my mind fresh so that I'm not just in this comfortable state of mind because face it, if you're working from home, you're just stuck in your house or wherever it is, behind your desk, and you're just doing the same thing. You're not really interacting with people face-to-face. It's not for everyone, but if you find that you need that, instead of just meeting people virtually online, if you're the type who likes to actually meet people in person, this is a great way to connect with people. There's so many types of organisations at meetup.com that you can find no matter what it is. I've seen meetup groups around writing courses just to improve your writing. If you want to improve something like writing content for your blog or on social media, who knows? You want to build your confidence in writing, then go to these meetups.
Now, this also means that online, you want to build joint venture partners and a potential joint venture partners or get people to start promoting your products. This all starts with building relationships with people in your industry. It never happened for me overnight. I've got over 150 affiliates who promote my products. Not on a regular basis, but you get a good dozen or so who actually promote on a consistent basis. Once you build that, the relationship with those affiliates and JV partners, it becomes really strong because you're leveraging off of their audience as well. When they tell their audience about your product, that's when you'll see exponential growth in your business. That's when you'll see sales, cashflow. That's when things really do take off because you as yourself can only do so much.
You have the power of your own list, obviously, your audience, but that's it. It stops there. If you can leverage off of other people's audiences, get them to endorse your product, endorse you, that's the way you want to go about it. I think that's quite a foundation. That's quite universal in any type of business and also in life. You want to create strong relationships because you just never know who you'll meet or who that person will connect you with.
5. Get a Coach or Mentor
As a coach and I guess a consultant myself, and I've only started providing actual one-on-one coaching over the phone not too long ago. This is something that I wish I did sooner. I wish I just hired someone, a coach that I really looked up to, invested the money and just pick his brain or get him to guide me through the steps on whatever it may be. It could be on mindset. It could be on reaching the next goal. It could be reaching six figures. Whatever it is. How they can help you is from experience. They've been there, done that. They've gone through failures. They can see things that you've never seen before because you've never experienced it. You get another perspective as well.
If you can't really afford a coach or mentor at the moment, it's good to form some sort of mastermind group. That's one of the chapters dedicated inside Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. I suggest that you read that, and it shows you the power of building a mastermind group and doing these monthly brainstorming sessions. That ties in with creating strong relationships. Get a coach or mentor, but this is more personal attention. You're getting guided through the steps and the pitfalls. That's one of the things I really do wish I did sooner.
6. Don’t Stop Growing
Don't stop growing. Don't stop learning. One of the mistakes I made was that I got comfortable once I hit a certain level of success. When I made this much or when I reached this amount of subscribers, I slowed down. I stagnated a bit. I stopped posting content because I got comfortable. I was like, "Oh, yeah, so I've done the work. This is all I need to do. Let's just enjoy now and let the business run itself," because that's how I really thought about the online business. It's passive. You create it once. You let it earn for the lifetime, whatever it is. That was one of the mistakes I made. One of the things you shouldn't do is stop growing because entrepreneurship is never predictable. You can plan as much as you can, but the industry can change. Innovation, technology, it all changes. If you're not keeping up with the times, then you become irrelevant. People will forget about you. That's what happened to me.
7. Stop Comparing Yourself To Others
This was a mental thing because you see other people succeed. I compared myself to other people because I saw that how did they reach such success? How can I do it? I've got no skills. I've got no expertise, so where do I start? How can I do it when this guy is already, or this gal is already all the way up here, and I'm just starting out? I haven't even tackled the basics of these things, but this really comes down to your mental attitude. This is self-doubt, really, and self-sabotage. You don't want to compare yourself to others because you're in a different situation. You're in a different position, and you got to remember, you're still starting out. I'm not sure where you're at in your journey, but if you're just starting out, you just got to remember, these people who have reached success or this point that you want to be in, they started from scratch as well.
You might get a few people who might have been lucky or had a headstart, but the majority of entrepreneurs, they started from nothing. It was just about learning, progressing, persisting in what they do and not let others dictate their future. It's all about you. You decide how you want to run your life and what things you want to achieve. These are your own personal goals. Their goals might not be yours, so that's why it really is different. That's why comparing is never the thing that you should do.
8. Build Your Personal Brand
One of the things I did when I started online was that I created videos. I shared articles and things on my website. There was no such thing as blogging back then. There was no such thing as YouTube. There was a way to put videos online, but you'd have to use your own player, a video player and embed it on your website, so these are the things that I did do at the start. However, I didn't do it with intent. I didn't do it so that I could gain more credibility, authority and be someone who's the go-to person for online marketing consulting. I didn't aim to go and hopefully get picked up by media or to go and get speaking gigs. Perhaps it was different back then. Now, with social media, it makes it so much more easier, which is no excuse for you not to do anything or build your personal brand in this case.
I took a break. I didn't really take a break. I just gave up on building my personal brand and putting myself out there, creating videos, creating content, blogs. I gave up on that for several years. It was only recently that I started to then continue building my personal brand. I've got a little bit of headstart because I've got an established email list, and so I can funnel them to my blog now and any new content that I put out, but I'm actually starting my personal brand from scratch. I've started my Quora profile. I started posting there. I started posting on Medium and started posting back on LinkedIn, things like that. These are the steps I'm taking to build my personal brand.
The goal really is just to become an authority, build credibility and try to reach as many people, share my message, share my story so that, because I know that there are a lot of people who were in my shoes, perhaps trying to look for a side hustle or build an online business. For them, it could mean that to build an online business, it will give them more time, more freedom to spend with their family, the kids or to travel more or whatever purpose it may be, whatever makes them happy. That's my purpose. My mission is to help others, and through personal branding, I can share my message, my stories with them to resonate and hopefully be the person that they go to. Therefore, once you build your personal brand, you can basically monetize in many ways. You can build a membership site, create a course, sell that course, start some workshop, whatever it may be. Once you build that personal brand, that is your asset.
I personally could completely change what I'm doing. I could say, right now, that I'm a digital marketer. Then, the next, I could be some sort of fitness coach. Who knows? I've already built that personal brand, and I can slowly funnel them into my next venture. It's really an asset. If you build your brand around some company name or business name, it doesn't have that same personal touch as a personal brand. To start building a personal brand, I do highly recommend that you start by registering and making sure that you have your .com available. For me, it's aureliustjin.com. If you don't have one or if you can't find your own, then the next best thing is to do is add a middle name like michaeljjones.com rather than michaeljones.com, which I'm sure is taken. Do something like that, but in any case, just try to register your name as the .com rather than some company or business name. For me back then, it was unstoppableprofits.com. It just doesn't have that same personal touch to it.
9. Don’t Focus on the Money
I did mention a lot of things about knowing your “why”, why you're doing this. What's your mission? Why? Don't focus on the short-term, as I mentioned. If you do, then you won't get results. You'll never be happy with the results. You'll never be happy with yourself. That's one of the mistakes I made. I focused on money. I was like, "What's the next thing I can do to make lots of money? I want to become rich, so I can then be happy," but in actual fact, you should be focusing more on what can you provide to the world because humans naturally, they need to feel a sense of contribution. People want to feel wanted. They want to feel valued, and that's what you can give them. When you give to people, knowing that you're making an impact, that's when you'll feel like you want to just do more or give more. It's a sense of achievement. It's a sense of contribution to the world. That's your part. You're playing a part in the world to make a difference.
Focusing on money is always bad because people can see right through it. Think about the long-term, as I had mentioned in point number one.
That's the nine things I wish I knew when I started my online business. I hope you got a lot out of this!
Let me know your thoughts below!