The 19 Things You Should Know Before You Start
Updated on 9/2/2022
When I started my first business, I knew I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t even know what I didn’t know! If I could go back in time and teach myself, there’s so much I would want to say. Before you start your business, just realize that you won’t be perfect in the beginning. There is always something to upgrade, change,
Here are 19 of the most important things that I would try to explain to myself as a newbie entrepreneur.
1. The more organized you are, the less you’ll have to work
When I’m disorganized, time flies too fast. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do next. I don’t know where to find the thing. I don’t know who I’m supposed to connect with. I don’t even know why I’m doing what I’m doing.
Spend more time keeping things simple, and you’ll spend less time spinning your wheels. (You’ll also enjoy your work a whole lot more!)
2. For the sake of your sanity, CONNECT with others
The #1 thing that makes the biggest difference in my happiness, optimism, and progress is connecting with peers. Find those people who do the same sort of thing as you and have positive attitudes about the challenges along the way. Talk to them regularly. Motivate them and let them motivate you. Support them and let them support you. Community is everything.
3. Taking action solves everything
You can have the best plan in the world, but if you don’t act on it, then nothing is going to happen. Don’t wait until your plan is “perfect” (it never will be). Consider your options, do a reasonable amount of research, and then GO! You can correct your course along the way.
4. Plan, but then RELAX
As an entrepreneur, things won’t always go as you expect or hope. Embrace the flow, and learn to be flexible. Better to be relaxed and enjoy the journey than be so stressed out about not being in control of every little detail.
5. Systems save your sanity
Trying to do all the things and be all the people will make balance impossible! Focus on creating systems that enable you to delegate and get more done in less time. Give your work focused, regular attention so that when you AREN’T working, you can be fully present with your family and friends.
6. There will be seasons of less sleep
When you own a business, there are busy seasons, and then there are busier seasons. During the former, you might have it “all figured out” and feel very balanced. During the latter, you WILL get less sleep. You’ll stay up late working on your launch, or wake up early to write your blog post in time — or both. Embrace the season of busyness, but create plans for rest and recuperation as well.
7. The more prepared you are, the more successful you’ll be
This goes for launching products, and services, giving speeches, teaching classes, going to the gym… anything really. The more time you take to be fully ready, the more you’ll get out of the experience. (That being said, don’t overthink it. Give yourself a reasonable amount of time, put in the work, then call that good and GO.)
8. “Everything is figuroutable” — Marie Forleo
She said it, and it’s true. You can figure out ANYTHING that you need to figure out to make your business successful. If someone has done it before you, you can learn from them. If not, you can figure it out on your own (which might take a little more time, but it will be more worth it).
9. Focus on ONE thing at a time
The more focused your attention is, the more progress you’ll be able to make in that one area. That success can then make other things much easier! For example, on social media platforms: you can try to grow a following on five different platforms at once, and gain 1000 followers on each, or you can focus your attention on just one, and gain 5000 followers there (or perhaps a lot more, since you’re more focused). Those 5000 followers can then be directed to your other platforms, and many of them will easily go.
10. Consistency is the key to gaining momentum
Want your business to GROW? Be consistent. Show up consistently as the same person and brand. Publish content consistently. Stay consistently in your niche. Preach your message consistently.
Dripping water all over the place won’t accomplish anything. Dripping water into the same bucket continuously will fill your bucket to overflowing.
11. Solve real problems
Nice things are nice, pretty things are pretty, but problems take precedence. Problems have to be solved. People pay money to have their problems solved. Focus on helping your customers and solving their problems, and they will cling to you.
12. Outsource; it’s so worth it
The other day, I was delegating my time: deciding how much time I wanted to spend on each activity of my business and how much time I really wanted to be working at all. I realized that I could spend 8 hours/month posting to social media, or 8 hours/month putting out a podcast (or both, or neither). I didn’t really want to spend the full 16 hours, so I chose to outsource the social media posting because anyone could do that for me. Only I can host my podcast show.
Spend your time doing those things that only you can do. Outsource all the things that anyone can do. You’ll get so much more done, make so much more money, and provide employment for someone else in the process!
13. Take the time to keep records
Keeping records is no fun. It’s my least favorite part of running my business. Well, almost. Really, my least favorite part is when I don’t keep records, and then I need something and can’t where I put the information I need. Create systems that make keeping the essential records simple, and then make those systems into habits.
14. Take a break BEFORE you are burnt out
Don’t kill yourself working for 17 days straight and then never want to look at your website again. Take at least one day each week completely off. Take some time every single day to slow down and really separate from your work. Paint your nails, walk the dog, watch your favorite show, or make a beautiful dinner. ENJOY life while you are growing your business, or else you will come to hate your business.
15. Know your focus
What is that one thing that you specialize in? Get extremely clear on exactly what your “offer” is, who it’s for, and why people need it.
16. Practice pays off
Practice your speech a dozen times before you give it. Practice writing the copy for your website. Practice connecting with people.
If you aren’t good at something, either decide to outsource it or practice. Being bad at something sucks, but you don’t have to stay bad at it. Keep doing it (in fact, do it way more than you have to), and do it intentionally. It will get easier.
17. Appearance matters
Whether you like it or not, people DO judge books by their covers. That’s just the way the world works.
People will judge you on whatever they perceive. They will judge you on how you look and sound. They will judge you on what you create and how you create it.
Does that mean you have to be perfect? No. Does that mean you have to cater to everyone? Definitely not. But, what it does mean is that you need to show up how you WANT people to perceive you, and you need to care about the details. What you wear matters. Your grammar matters. Consistent branding matters.
Keep things simple, high quality, consistent, and focused on what your customers actually want. Then, ask some of your trusted peers how you could improve.
18. The money is in the list
To make money, you have to sell. To sell, you have to have an audience and a way to be able to connect with them. Focus on building that audience and creating a relationship with them. Your audience must trust and appreciate you. Your audience is your most valuable asset.
19. You can be happy TODAY!
Happiness doesn’t come as a byproduct of success. Happiness is a choice you make every day. Happiness is gratitude for everything you HAVE and curiosity about what you will be able to create next. Don’t deprive yourself of the enjoyment of the journey.
So, before you start your business, get excited, get motivated, physic yourself out, whatever you have to do, and go do it. Just remember, that we are here for you if you get stuck on anything.
Book a call to get started right here.
5 Automated Email Marketing Messages
Email marketing is one of the most effective marketing tactics available to businesses today. But the power of email marketing grows exponentially when you automatically send targeted messages based on specific customer behaviors rather than manually.
In reality, no small business owner has time to write individual messages and send them to people at the correct times. Even if you have the budget to hire a staff or agency to help you, there aren’t enough daily hours to manually leverage every email marketing opportunity.
That’s where automation changes the game.
Here are five email marketing messages that you can set up to go out to customers and subscribers automatically based on behavioral triggers, practically guaranteed to increase your sales.
Why? Because someone can build these automated messages and that can create to convert your contacts.
Email marketing automation drives more conversions and a higher ROI.
Here are five easy ways to do it:
- Customer Support Follow-up
Do you follow up with customers and prospects after communicating with your customer support team? Whether someone contacts your business by phone, email, or online chat, you should have a follow-up message ready to go out immediately after the communication and documented in your customer support software.
You can automate the entire process using a customer support tool that integrates with your email marketing tool. Just write your follow-up message and set it to be sent automatically when a contact in your email marketing list completes a communication with a customer service representative.
This message could tell the customer or your prospect how to get additional help if they need it. Or it could include a survey to track the quality of their experience and overall satisfaction. You could even have a discount or other special offer they can use on a future purchase to convert a customer service issue into a sale.
Related: 5 Ways You Can Earn a Better ROI with Your Email Marketing Campaigns
- Sales Trigger
Your email marketing software should automatically send a follow-up message when someone purchases from you. This message should thank the person for their investment and offer a cross-sell or upsell item. You can even include a discount to boost conversions.
To do this, you must first determine what products or services to cross-sell or upsell for every product or service offered on your website. Your automated message triggered by a purchase could say, “Since you loved [insert the item purchased here}, we thought you’d like [insert a related product here] too!” Include details about why the customer would like the suggested product or service and a link where they can purchase it immediately. You can also include a discount or special offer in your message if you’d like.
Remember, automated messages based on sales behaviors don’t have to be limited to completed purchases. Send them when someone moves to the next stage of your sales pipeline.
So, this is particularly important for businesses that sell products or services with long sales cycles. The goal automatically sends email messages that help push people through your sales funnel. Therefore, consider sending messages when a prospect makes the first contact with you, completes a sales call, completes a demo, nears the end of a free trial period, and so on.
- Form Submission
Every time someone submits a form on your website — whether it’s your contact form, a subscription form, a form to download a free resource, or any form, you should have an email marketing message queued to go out immediately.
For this to work, you need to make sure you’re using a form tool that integrates with your email marketing software so that the process is automated and you can access reports to see which forms are working and which should be improved or replaced.
Related: 10 Tips for Writing Emails That Will Get You Tangible Results
- Abandoned Cart
Abandoned cart messages are a critical part of your email marketing strategy. When someone takes the time to find a product they like on your website, puts that item in their online shopping cart, but leaves your site without completing their purchase, an obstacle likely got in their way, which prevented them from completing the transaction.
First, you’ll want to find out what that obstacle was and remove it for two reasons. First, you want to save the sale, and second, you don’t want other people to abandon their carts for the same reasons.
Therefore, when someone abandons their shopping cart on your website, your email marketing tool should be set up to automatically send a message asking them what went wrong and reminding them to return to complete their transaction. You can even include a discount in the letter to encourage a complete purchase. Of course, you must have the proper tracking configured in your email marketing tool and website. You will need to have an abandoned cart set up as a behavioral trigger that kicks off this message.
- Thank You
Sending thank you messages to your customers based on various behavioral triggers such as making a purchase, attending a webinar, writing a review, and so on. The key is ensuring your thank you messages sound authentic and make the recipients feel valued.
Saying thank you shows consumers that your brand is human and helps deepen your brand’s relationship with them. You’re also acknowledging consumers and helping them develop trust in your brand.
Keep it simple and sincere, and the perception of your brand – and the likelihood that people will buy from you again and tell others about you – improves significantly.
Related: 10 Laws of Social Media Marketing
Key Takeaways About Email Marketing Automation
Automation works because it saves you a lot of time. Undoubtedly, when you can automate tasks, your productivity and efficiency will improve, and your costs will decrease.
However, you need to invest some time and effort upfront in writing the messages, setting them up in your email marketing software, and integrating your email marketing tool with the other devices you use to track customer behaviors.
It’s well worth the time, though, because these automated messages will improve your overall ROI.
Setting Your Rates as a New Virtual Assistant
Setting your rates as a new virtual assistant can feel scary. Many new Virtual Assistants price their rates very low in the hopes that this will attract more clients.
While you may get more interest initially, this method usually backfires because bad clients tend to hire based on your price alone. You’ll end up thinking that being a VA doesn’t pay enough and is too much of a headache to deal with.
Here’s how to set better rates that attract quality clients…
See What Others Are Charging
It can be helpful to look at what other Virtual Assistants charge to help you set your prices. Some virtual assistants do post their rates on their websites.
But make sure your price compares with VAs who do your type of work. Comparing rates between a VA who specializes in web design and a VA who specializes in social media videos won’t help you set your rates.
Hourly Rates vs Fixed Price
Next, you need to understand how other VAs set their rates. There are two common ways to do this. Some virtual assistants charge a fixed price per project, while others charge an hourly rate.
The amount of money that is charged, paid, or earned for every hour worked: You pay a fixed or hourly rate for the advisers’ time rather than paying for the products they sell you.
The hourly rate is helpful when you’re new and inexperienced. It gives you the space to learn how long it takes you to do certain tasks, which projects your clients value, and what a fair wage for your time is.
However, the hourly rate is not helpful if you have advanced skills. For example, when Trisha started out as a VA, she set up mailing lists for her clients. The process took her about 4 hours, and she charged $25 per hour. This means her clients were paying her an average of $100.
But as Trisha developed her skills, it only took her 2 hours to handle the mailing list setup. Since she was still charging by the hour, she earned $50 instead of $100. This means she was losing money because of her experience.
The way to overcome a problem like this is to offer a fixed price. That’s what Trisha began doing. She charged a flat-rate fee of $100 for every mailing list set up that she did. She was still offering the exact same service; the only difference was the new price reflected Trisha’s years of expertise and knowledge.
Example: Technicians working under flat-rate or incentive pay systems usually earn more than employees in shops with hourly rates — provided they are confident and work reasonably quickly. Most companies use one system. … Tasks that place a premium on fine craftsmanship are also often done at an hourly rate.
Ask for a Deposit
Make sure you ask for a deposit from your clients at the start of each project. This protects you if you start working on a project but your client must cancel it for some reason. You’ll still have the deposit, which should cover the time you’ve already invested.
But a deposit also protects your client, too. It assures them that they’ve booked time on your busy schedule and makes their project a top priority.
Most clients understand this and will happily pay the deposit. But if a client balks when you bring this up, they may be more interested in test-driving your services than making an actual purchase.
Setting your rates when you’re first starting your virtual assistant business might make you feel nervous. This is natural, and you’ll become comfortable discussing your prices as time goes on.