The Reality of Growing a New Business Online
Today, I want to get super real with you about where I’m at and share something most people don’t share publicly online.
In fact, many people avoid talking about this at all for fear of it impacting their business and making them look bad. Tarnishing their rep. But because of what I do, and the pivot I made in my business at the end of 2018, I feel like it’s important that I’m truly honest with you about what it’s like to grow a business when starting out.
While I don’t normally focus on new business owners, with my pivot I’m essentially a new business. I’m in a whole new niche, a whole new client, and a whole new myriad of problems to solve and fun to be had.
This post is about where I am at in that journey.
In writing this post, I hope it helps you to grow the best, profitable business you can - no matter what you need to do ethically to get there.
Freedom is yours. You just have to figure out how to see it.
Burnout is a helluva thing
If you’ve been following along for a bit, you may know that I pivoted my business at the end of last year after being in business for 6 years. I finally took the leap to be a business coach and strategist. Prior to that, I had been working as a social media & digital strategist.
I probably could have made the transition sooner but mindset is a hell of a thing. More on that in another post someday.
To make a long story much shorter (if you want the full story you can listen to the 1st ep of my podcast), I was making a decent living through 2016 but because I no longer loved what I was doing I sort of stopped doing all of the necessary things one does to build a business. Woof.
Without stating the obvious, don’t do this.
No longer doing the things I needed to do such as marketing, relationship building, actively growing my business, etc. started to erode my bottom line.
It finally trickled into and exploded in 2018.
If you’re good at connecting the dots, you might have guessed this left me financially unstable in 2018. Like whoa.
I couldn’t acknowledge where I was at in my business and how financially catastrophic this was. This…was a problem that I’m now dealing with today.
But when you’re burned out, shit happens. It’s a reality.
It’s rarely about how good you are
OK, that subhead might not be entirely true — sometimes people are terrible at their business. However, I am not and very few people I’ve worked with are not terrible either.
But very often people think it’s all about how good you are. And that’s just not the reality.
Life comes at you fast.
I see people all the time who are really good (or definitely have what it takes to be good) at what they do, but they don’t have the experiential learning to understand that growing a business is really hard, and rarely does anything happen overnight.
It takes a lot of time and tenacity (and money, more on that below).
So what tends to happen is they start to feel that they are bad at what they do. Insecurity creeps in. Lack of clients eats at them. And instead of taking steps to ensure they can keep at it, they give up. Or worse start to take part in self-sabotage.
THIS is why I’m writing this post.
It’s rarely ever about how good you are.
What it’s almost always about is money and resources. And here’s where the online business world tends to go mum.
Time is money
I’m really good at what I do. I get people results. I know my shit. I have over 10k hours of helping online businesses grow (that means I’m an expert in Malcolm Gladwell’s eyes!).
But right now, that doesn’t matter.
I have pivoted into a new niche, I’m not known within that niche and that means not a lot of leads coming in, yet.
That’s going to take some time. And because I fucked up royally in 2017 and made some decisions that would affect me financially, I don’t have the cushion I need to ride this out in a way I’d like.
No matter how much you “know” about growing a small business, it’s still hard AF, and if you don’t have a financial cushion or income coming in consistently it can be that much harder.
So what does that mean for me (or maybe you)? It means I need to get a part-time job or take on work I don’t love love love (but that I’m good at) until I’m generating enough leads to be financially stable again.
That’s not the end of the world, but to some it feels like it.
What no one tells you
Growing a business online looks different for everyone. It’s a vastly different experience for each person. We all have different cultural, societal, and financial advantages and disadvantages. And those advantages and disadvantages affect how we grow as businesses.
Expectations need to be managed. Success needs to be uniquely defined.
This is a side of online business that is rarely if ever talked about openly or publicly.
Here’s what you often don’t hear from people online:
✔️ They don’t share that they have a partner/spouse who is the breadwinner.
✔️ They don’t share that they have a silent partner that has injected money into the business for long term financial gains.
✔️ They don’t share that they have a year’s worth of savings or a loan that helps them weather slow months.
✔️ They don’t share that they have a side hustle to keep the income coming in slow months.
✔️ They don’t share that they have an unsexy job to keep the $$$ coming in.
To be clear, none of the above means anything bad.
All of these things get talked about once “success” has been achieved but rarely does any of it get shared out in the open consistently while it’s happening.
Sure some people bring it up and are honest, and we’re definitely seeing that more and more. People are sharing a peek behind the scenes.
But most people don’t know that this is a reality in growing an online business.
They are different realities for different people. But they absolutely need to be talked about more when building an online business, if only so that people can manage and create reasonable expectations.
I’ve talked to so many people that think they’re a failure at what they do if they’re not ONLY doing that one thing they set out to do (their business).
Or they think they’re broken or unable to build a business if they’re not working with their ideal client.
This isn’t right, and it’s not true.
The reality is most people have to take on some kind of p/t job or client work that they aren’t in love with in the beginning.
This is what’s real.
And it’s a reality for me right now, I want to share that with you because I don’t ever want you going blindly into online business.
Doing what you need to do
I believe in what I do and the business I own more than anything I’ve ever done in my life. And I’m willing to do whatever I need to do to make it work long term. And I bet you are too.
So what does that mean?
That means taking on side jobs and clients that aren’t our ideal. Doing work that we’ve outgrown but can still do really well.
Is it sexy? Fuck no.
It means creating different streams of revenue so you can stay afloat anyway, anyhow.
Despite what you see on Instagram, running a small business is almost always not sexy.
So if that’s what it takes (and it is) to keep the dream of my new business becoming a long term reality than you better bet that bottom dollar that I’m sure as hell showing up and doing whatever I need to do to bring money in.
And I hope you’ll do the same.
Does it mean we don’t know what we’re doing in our current businesses? No.
Does it mean we’re failures? No.
It just means the path might be a little longer to get there. That’s all.
Taking on work we’re not in love with doesn’t diminish who we are or what we know.
If you aren’t making 6 or 7 figures, you’re not fully booked, or you have to take a side job or do scrappy work to get your bills paid that's just a reality, not an indictment.
You live and learn. Because that’s life. Nothing is ever perfect. Nothing. No matter how many flat lays or filters you share on Instagram.
The real reality, not the filtered reality
I want to hear what’s working for people. I want to know the messy and the reality and what it really takes to grow a business, because I know for me it’s never looked perfect. And I know that’s how it is for most.
That’s why I share all of this. Does it scare me to tell you I’m not fully booked? Of course! Does it unnerve me to admit that I once had a successful business and now I’m starting out again with basically a blank slate and things feel scary? OMG YES.
But I do this because this is where I’m at, and I know there are many of you in the same boat.
No one builds a business overnight. It takes time and trust and a helluva lot of perseverance.
Freedom is making the rules that work for you.
Don’t quit because it’s not perfect. Otherwise, you’ll never get there.
In writing this post, I hope it helps you to grow the best, profitable business you can — no matter what you need to do ethically to get there.
Freedom is yours. You just have to figure out how to see it.