When we first jump into starting a business, it’s easy to get swept up in the passion projects and steam ahead at 100 miles an hour because we are so excited about what we are doing. But when the enthusiastic adrenaline wears off and we can look back on our journey with hindsight, it is common to weigh up whether our time and effort has been worth it.
Here are the key elements in my recipe for success:
1. Establish Your Income Streams
Consider your income streams carefully and stop spending time on what is not bringing in the bacon. If you only have one income stream, look at how you can add more passive income streams into your business. For example, when clients choose the same hosting provider that I use, I receive an affiliate commission. This month that commission has given me an extra $1,000 for no extra time on my part. All I did was recommend the provider and watch the PayPal payment notifications roll in. Just remember to choose your affiliates wisely and only recommend services that you have used and are happy with.
Always choose what you sell carefully. I am a big fan of digital products or informational services with recurring payments such as a membership module. This is simply because those types of products fall into the create-once-sell-multiple-times category. Another advantage of these products is you don’t have to reinvest any profits back into replacing them.
Remember, a physical product needs capital or cash flow to buy upfront, then you need to sell it and spend more time and money to replenish the stock.
2. Automate and Systemise
Use systems and automation to create time where you thought you had none.
This has been an absolute game changer for my business and I estimate it has freed up at least 35% of my time which has now been reinvested into scaling my business, or taking breathers and spending time with my family.
Below are some links to great software platforms that can help you to develop your own systems and automation:
- Asana – Project management and master task list. I use this with my team to track clients, projects and other general tasks. You can even create new tasks by sending a quick email to your Asana account.
- Zapier – Link various tools together to streamline full processes. I use Zapier to link my website, PayPal, Asana, Google Drive just to name a few!
- Google Drive – A central portal for our team to share and upload files. Distance is no barrier with Google Drive, and it’s fast and easy to use, and links in with so many systems in online business!
- QuickBooks Invoicing – The #1 cloud based online accounting solution worldwide. Track expenses, customise invoices and run reports all from one place, from your phone or your computer.
- Active Campaign – Email marketing, sales funnels and small business CRM. Send beautiful newsletters, emails and create behavioural based automation systems.
In my business, all the products I offer have been streamlined to within an inch of their life and I have a system for any new team member to follow so that I don’t need to repeat myself each time. We use a Facebook group to communicate so new members to the team can see and learn from previous conversations, questions and answers.
Funnels are my friend and I have whole email sequences setup that I monitor daily and cut in when I need to send personalised replies. I can view and moderate stats which allows me to be ever perfecting my engagement levels and conversions.
I even automate tasks in my everyday life such as bills which I pay automatically every month. School fees are paid upfront instead of each term, and our recurring food purchases are automatically ordered and delivered each week. Systemise and simplify.
3. Outsource Like a Ninja
Let your inner control freak go and delegate! This was a hard one for me but again, it was a game changer.
I have a team of project coordinators who run all my jobs while I am on the frontline looking after clients and generating new business. To say that I am in love with them for the time they have created for me would be an understatement.
Also with websites like Upwork, Fiverr, Etsy and Freelancer outsourcing can be cost effective and work incredibly well. You do need to sort the wheat from the chaff and be wary of anything that seems too good to be true – it probably is. Cull anyone who requires micro-managing as it otherwise defeats the purpose and can cost you even more time.
4. The 80/20 Rule is the New Black
This ingenious production hack was picked up from Tim Ferriss, author of The 4 Hour Work Week.
Apply the 80/20 principle to a few areas and ask yourself what are the 20% of customers/products/distributors that are producing 80% of the profit?
For example, when I asked myself, ‘Where are the areas I am making the most impact with my audience?’, I could easily see that my Facebook group trumped everything else.
So now I spend the majority of my time there offering support, advice, tips and just engaging with people. Growing this group also moved up higher on my priority list when I discovered how effective this engagement is to my bottom line.
Then we do the less common; we apply 80/20 to the negative: what are the 20% of activities and people that consume 80% of your time? Once you’ve established what they are, it is time to say goodbye.
Keep everything as simple as possible and eliminate anything that does not serve you.
5. Competition is a Good Thing!
So many people who start an online business are paralysed by the fear of “picking the wrong niche”. We all know how big the World Wide Web is. It is huge! And the population of the world is huge! Picking a niche in which you can make money on the internet is not like picking a niche in which you can make money in a small country town. On the web, the ideas that can be turned into successful businesses are infinite.
You can even make money in markets that are jam packed with competitors.
Of course I don’t want to make it seem like it’s super easy. It’s not. It takes blood, sweat and tears. But with hard work, an analytical mind, systems and processes behind you and a lot of patience and persistence, you really can make it happen.